Observations on quality time with my 84 year old father, day 8

Observations on quality time with my 84 year old father, day 8:

• Typical conversation in the car while listening to the radio;
o Dad – “Is that Humperdink?”
o Me – “No dad, it’s Neil Diamond.”
o Dad – “Who? Neil Humperdink?’

• When we’re listening to music in the car, which is often, as half of our driving seems to be in rush hour, he’ll sometimes ask, “Can you and a gal dance to this?” He loves music and often relates it to dancing. He once told me, “There’s only two kinds of music: listening music and dancing music.” He was quite a dancer in his time: Lindy Hopping when he was a teenager in the late 40s, and all types of Latin music in the 50s. Tangoes, Rhumbas, Cha Chas. You name it, he would dance to it. I ascribe his attraction to Latin music to a) his appreciation of Latin women & b) marijuana availability in the clubs. He’s conversational in Spanish and tries to speak it with all the nurses. Unfortunately the Filipino nurses don’t speak Spanish. In the 70s he would dance to Soul Train on Saturday mornings and he still talks about Saturday Night Fever. “What ever happened to that John Travolta?” In the 80s he took ballroom dance classes and even competed. My mother got jealous of the ballroom dancing because he always had some young hottie, often Latino, as a partner. So, she started ballroom dancing too, mostly to keep an eye on him. As she wasn’t as accomplished as my dad, she had a different partner. Her partner was an overweight gay man with heavily plastered hair and MC Hammer pants. We always assumed his name was Pepi. My dad hurt his back in the mid-90s, but can still shake his groove thing. He may not be doing the James Brown splits, but he’s still got rhythm. If you’re young (well, younger than him) and Latino, he’s always looking for a new dance partner.

• My dad’s been writing fiction since the late 70s. I remember reading one of his pieces and it all seemed to be veiled inferences of his children’s lack of appreciation for his sacrifice. That’s when I stopped reading them. Recently he asked my daughter to read something of his with inappropriate scenes in it. “He ripped her in half during sex? Jeezus dad!” He’s continued writing “novellas” and partnered with people on screenplays but sold nothing. He’s looking for the big score instead of working from the ground up. He has no idea that I’m shopping a book and I’d like to keep it that way. I love him but he’s a narcissist and knows no boundaries. My success isn’t celebrated. It’s looked at as an opportunity for him. When my sisters or I have asked my mother what he wants as a birthday present, it’s always “an agent.” My uncle, who is my mother’s brother and has had issues with my dad for almost 60 years, has reduced his writing to two examples. “The angel of death flew o’er Brooklyn” is his favorite opening line. The other favorite descriptor is “Lithe like a panther…” My dad recently asked me to read one of his screenplays called “El Gigante.” “You’re in the movies so I value your opinion”. “No dad, I work in TV. Local, government TV.” “Yeah, same thing.” Oy gevalt.

© Curt Weiss 2014

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