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Archive for August, 2010

Photo credit: jupiterimages.com

The following is a dramatization of a phone conversation Charlie had recently with his brother, Elmer. The entire dialogue is Dad’s side of the call (since I obviously couldn’t hear Elmer’s side) and is a fairly typical example of every conversation my dad has with any of our relatives who live back in North Dakota.

There are three things worth noting before we begin.

1. Dad is deaf and he will not admit it or use his hearing aids. Yes, he does in fact own hearing aids, but refuses to ever wear them which leads to a lot of SHOUTING as well as blaring TVs and music in the Schulz household.

2. Whenever someone asks how he’s doing, the standard Charlie answer usually involves “cheating death,” “death is coming eminently” (a claim he’s been making for the last 40 years or so), or “one day is worse than the next.”

3. Every conversation with relatives must at some point include an obituary briefing; a rundown of who’s dead, who’s dying, and how long he has or can out live them.

So with that, we set our scene:

The phone rings twice. Dad ignores it. The answering machine kicks in. No message.

BEAT

The phone again rings twice. The answering machine kicks in. Then Dad recognizes the number on the Caller ID just barely quick enough to grab the phone before Uncle Elmer hangs up in disgust.

“Hello?”

Hello?”

“What?”

“HELLO?!”

“WHAT?”

“Who’s that?”

“SPEAK UP!!!”

“ARRRRRGH!”

“ELMER!”

“Oh! Is that you?”

“Yeah.”

“Are you sure it isn’t Fudd…?”

“Is that’s right? Well what the hell!”

“What’s that?”

“WHAT?”

“Oh, we’re just livin’ one day to the next.”

“Ah, shit. Who knows?”

“Yeah, we got the kid here for the summer.”

“HUH?”

“I don’t know.”

“No, she’s not working. We had some nice hamburgers last night though.”

“Yeah.”

“How’s Mott? Dead?”

“Yeah. Dead, eh?”

“That’s it?”

“Anymore dead people there?”

“Blotty?”

“Oh yeah?”

“Ah, shit.”

“Well, that’s the end of that.”

“Anything else to say there?”

“Nothing, yeah?”

“Okay then. Good enough.”

“Yup. Bye.”

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winterrose31.deviantart.com

Two young children, a boy and girl. Neither could be older than five or six and both blond like the Swedish Bikini Team. They live next door and were playing ball on the street in front of their house while I sat on our front porch reading a book. I could hear them talking and laughing, as kids will do; kicking, shouting, footsteps…

…and suddenly, silence.

Turning in the direction I expected them to be, I was initially taken aback by the sight of them, lurking at the end of our driveway. There they stood, like two wily horror movie villains, with Charlie’s car standing between us, their faces tinted green from the glare of the vehicle’s back window. No sound, just a static and suspicious gaze.

They looked like something out of Children of the Corn.

“What the hell are they doing?” I thought to myself.

Their vacant stares then seemed to develop into concern followed by an argument of sorts which went something like this:

“We have to get the ball.”

You get the ball.”

“No, you get it!”

Finally, without explanation or agreement, they both turned away from our driveway and ran home.

“Did what I think happen, just happen?” I wondered.

Did these two little blond kids accidentally kick their ball into my dad’s yard and were too afraid to retrieve it? Is this what Charlie has become? The scary old man in the creepy house with the un-mowed lawn? When I’m not here, do the neighborhood children dare each other to ring our doorbell and run away? I had to investigate to be sure. (more…)

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sethart80.deviantart.com

If you’ve already reviewed the list of the Top 5 Best Restaurants according to Charlie, you know that my dad is not a picky eater. Indulging himself with greasy Ivar’s fish and chips, McDonald’s Big Macs, and gravy drenched Denny’s cuisine is not exactly the makings of a culinary expert nor a healthy diet for that matter. However, for all his fat-injected, cholesterol-elevating, artery-clogging cravings, Dad also has his standards.

Don’t get me wrong; he’ll still clean his plate, but if anything – from the staff, silverware, or food – doesn’t live up to Charlie’s strict guidelines of taste and acceptability, he’ll find a way to bitch about it from appetizer to dessert.

What follows is Charlie’s Top 5 Worst Restaurants. They are, without a doubt, a selection of the last places you would ever want to take him for dinner or even suggest for a special occasion. His reaction could be potentially anywhere from a frown and a head shake to an open display of 3-year-old tantrum-like hostility.

You have been warned. (more…)

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jupiterimages.com

If there’s anything Dad likes more than computers, it’s food. And not just any kind of food… well, actually no, that’s not entirely true. Charlie will eat anything you put in front of him. In fact, I remember distinctly a time when I was dishing out ice cream after dinner and when my sister, Leigh, complained about the brand or flavor, the following short dialogue ensued:

Me: “I scooped the same kind of ice cream for Dad and Dad isn’t complaining.”
Leigh: “Dad wanted to eat the scoop of ice cream that fell on the carpet.”
Me: “Touché, Leigh, touché.”

So, needless to say, Charlie is not exactly a picky eater, but he is a tough critic. If he likes something, he becomes overly animated about it. Sometimes he’ll even request it the next day and momentarily sulk if there are no leftovers. And what happens if Dad doesn’t like his food? Well, because he grew up in the generation of “Clean Your Plate!” (as did I by proxy) he’ll still eat it, but with the face of a 10-year-old being forced to eat his broccoli and brussels sprouts.

Over the summer, I’ve been trying to get Charlie to eat healthier.

  1. Sodium-filled TV dinners are replaced by fish and organic, free range meats and eggs.
  2. Greasy potato chips as a snack, substituted with apple sauce and carrot sticks with hummus dip.
  3. Sugary, frosting-covered donut desserts tossed out in favor of fruit smoothies with flax seed and pro biotic yogurt (the ingredients of which I have to repeatedly explain before he’ll agree to drink it).

This is a man who, when left to his own devices, nukes an entire package of bacon (sans plastic) in the microwave until it’s black and eats it all in one sitting. He needs help.

I’ve tried to explain that he must take better care of himself. His blood pressure is through the roof, he’s already had a couple heart attacks AND a quadruple bypass. Instead of eating the shite he chooses to eat on his own, he might as well have doctors shove a scoop of lard and a dozen maple bars into his arteries and get it over with!

Nevertheless, despite my best efforts, protests, and fruit smoothies to the contrary, Charlie still has his preferences and a routine to maintain. If I or my sisters aren’t cooking or it happens to be the day of the week Dad has penciled in a specific meal, there are five places he’s willing to patronizing (the consumer-type of patronizing rather than the condescending-type he’s more prone to). (more…)

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