January 23, 2018

Comedic Timing. Or, How I Learned To Love The Pain And Support The Toaster

I need to monetize my dad's sense of comedic timing.  Not the one that he *thinks* he has.  You know, the one that has me apologizing to waiters the world over.  I'm talking the one he doesn't realize he’s got, but would make him the perfect character in a slapstick comedy.

I’ve been on vacation with my folks for 4 or so days now.

Yesterday, I listened to my folks, both in their mid 70s, argue for half an hour over how to use the microwave.  My dad wanted to warm his muffin just enough to melt a pat of butter from the stick left in the fridge overnight.  If he’d have left the butter on the countertop for the same amount of time. . .   But, I digress.  

This morning, I came out of my side of the suite to scrounge for breakfast before starting the day. I see dad sitting at the table, quietly reading what I assume to be his email on his tablet.  Being a reader and avid consumer of all the internet has to offer, I see this and understand the social contract that says, “I’m engrossed in something.  Please let me come up for air on my own time.  In other words, shhhh.  Don’t speak.”  I make my toast, slice my kiwi, and decide to join him in his consumption by bringing my laptop to the table.  We can be, in a way, alone together.  It’s peaceful, and very much a father/daughter activity that makes sense if you know us.

The very moment I sit down and lift toast to lips, and without moving a muscle to alter his appearance from that of Rodin’s The Thinker, dad mutters, “This isn’t even working.”

Internally, I’m crying.

Toast lifted halfway to my mouth, salivary glands in full swing, and knowing the answer to my own question, “What’s not working, dad?”

He gestures at the tablet like Merlin stirring his tea with a cantrip; “This.  This whole thing.  I can’t get my email.”

I should say that thus far, since I have been here, I have played tech support for a telephone, two laptops, and a a set of portable speakers.  I’m not climbing this hill and planting a flag at the top.  Especially not before I’ve got caffeine in my system.

“Well, that sucks dad.  I’m not sure why.  Once we got the initial problems sorted out, I thought we were ok.”  I was preparing another breath to offer him the phone and hotline number of the resort’s internet help desk when he opted to push back from the table and worry about it another time.

I thought I would find the peace I was looking for, now that I was out of the woods for being tech support.  I was wrong.

I’m two items in to checking my social media updates, when it starts.  “Have you looked at what the weather is doing back home?”

Prying half of an eyeball away from my reading, I say, “No dad.  I do know that it we had a bad snowstorm forecast yesterday, but last I knew it wasn’t what it was predicted to be.  I mean, I don’t want to be smug, so why even look?"

"Oh.  That's true."  His gaze drifts to the curtains across the balcony windows.

I pause.  A few beats of silence pass.  Or maybe it was just the awareness of my pulse in my ears due to high blood pressure.  I scroll down to another story and start reading again. I’m two sentences in when. . . 

“Have you heard of this author?  Barnes and Nobel says they wrote the best book of the year.”

Inside, I’m screaming.   Suddenly it dawns on me why I didn’t realize I had ADD until I was almost 40.

“Sorry dad.  No, the name doesn’t ring a bell.  Besides, it’s January.  Isn’t it a little early to start making that call?”

He responds, but I’m not listening.  I’ve got my teeth in this ridiculous status update and by George, I’m going to finish it before I’ve had to read it three times!  Or, that was the plan.

By this time, he’s gotten up and wandered into the kitchen area, and is standing in front of the appliances.  His arms akimbo, a pained look of resignation and frustration rests in the nest of his eyebrows.  “Hey E, do you know how to use the microwave?”

I just hope the Federalis speak better English than the Spanish I speak when I finally snap.

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