as featured in Desert Exposure Magazine
Lest you think I consider my father a burden, I don't.
It's just if all I wrote about were unicorns and rainbows, both you and I would be bored. Besides, I find everything my father does incredibly entertaining. Maybe not at the time, but, you know, when I look back. Now I understand the saying, "I'm not laughing at you, I'm laughing with you." I'm not laughing at my father, because I'm just like him. I'm laughing with him, because I can see what the future has in store for me.
Old age takes pity on no one.
One of the reasons we bought this particular house is because it had a small guest house in the front where we knew my father could live and have his privacy. It was a way for him to keep his independence, yet let us keep an eye on him at the same time. In his home away from home he has his own TV with its own satellite signal. Now that I think about it, his TV gets more stations than mine does. He has a radio/CD player. Telephone. Refrigerated air. Heck, it sounds so good, I think I'm going to start living there.
The problem is he likes to watch TV in the main house, and that forces everybody else to watch TV someplace else. While he's busy hogging the TV, he's also busy complaining our house is too cold.
"Why don't you put on a sweater, dad?" my wife will ask him.
"I don't want to wear a sweater."
"But, if you're cold, a sweater might help warm you up."
"The problem isn't that I'm cold, the problem is that the house is cold."
So my wife will feel sorry for him, turn up the heat, and the rest of us have to suffer.
"Pop," I've told him, sweating like a pig, "maybe you'd be more comfortable watching TV in your room."
"I don’t think so."
"You could watch what you want to watch."
"I do that here."
"You could have your house as warm as you want."
"I don't know, it's pretty warm here. Except when it's cold."
So what can I do? I sit in a hot house watching something on TV that doesn't particularly entertain me, and, man, I hate the heat. I try to avoid it like it was the police. You can dress for the cold. You can put on a sweater, you can wear a scarf, but there's nothing you can do about the heat. When it's hot, it's just hot.
The times I beat my father to the TV, he'll come in, sit down, and watch for a bit. Then he'll look at me, and then back at the TV. At me, then the TV. Me. The TV.
"There's not a baseball game on?" he'll ask no one in particular.
He knows perfectly well there's a baseball game on. In fact, we pay extra for an entire channel devoted to nothing but baseball games for him. So, at any given time, my father can watch one if he wants to... and he always wants to.
"This show's pretty good, pop. You should give it a chance."
"Oh, okay," he’ll say. And he'll watch. For awhile. Then he'll look at me, and then back at the TV. At me, then the TV. Me. The TV.
"There's not a baseball game on?"
My wife will eventually feel sorry enough for him to change the channel from whatever it is I'm watching.
"Can you also turn up the heat?" he'll ask her. "It's too cold in here."
Once again, I can't watch my programs. I think he pretends to watch baseball on the outside, and laughs at me on the inside.
"Heh, heh, heh," he laughs to himself. "Heh, heh, heh."
Trust me, I understand why my father prefers watching baseball. He's hard of hearing, so it's difficult for him to follow the stories on the programs I watch. Baseball, he understands, and when he can't hear the color commentators, he makes it up himself.
"You know," he'll say, in between chewing on the snacks my lovely wife provides. Smack, smack, smack. "These games are fixed."
"Are they, pop?"
"Yeah--smack, smack--fixed. I don't even know why I watch them."
“I don’t either.”
The bases might be loaded, and the batter will hit a home run.
"See? I knew he was going to hit a home run. I had that feeling--smack, smack, smack--the games are fixed--smack--I knew they were going to win the game."
"Did you, pop?"
"Ahhh, yeah. They're all fixed so the owners can make more money." He'll laugh, and shake his head a bit. "I don't know, I don't know. How else can you explain their scoring four runs and winning?"
"Maybe the batter just hit a home run, pop. I mean, somebody has to win."
"Nah, they're fixed. How else can you explain it?"
By this time my wife will have already gone upstairs to bed.
"Goodnight, pop," I'll tell him.
"Huh… ahh... wha?"
"I'm going to bed, pop. Can you turn off the TV and lights before you go to bed?"
"Sure, son. Don't worry."
And then, sometime in the middle of the night, I'll wake up, go check the locks, and find the TV, the lights, and the heater all on. The door leading out of our house and to his will be unlocked, and my father will be in his room. Sleeping like a baby. He knows how to turn everything off, but for some reason he won't do it.
Maybe that's his way of paying me back for not letting him watch baseball.
Lest you think I’ve forgotten, you can find more nonsense at RaisingMyFather.BlogSpot.com, JimDuchene.BlogSpot.com, and @JimDuchene.