Observations on quality time with my 84 year old father, day 21
“Look at that fella. He’s gotta have diabetes.”
If you think you’re too fat, too skinny, have bad skin, a big butt or any sort of physical appearance phobia, you can be sure that my father will notice. I kind of think my thighs look like Patrick Starfish’s head, but my father’s never seen “Spongebob Squarepants”.
He hasn’t stopped trying to get me to go to the gym with him since I got here, which is his way of saying, “You’re fat.” He doesn’t realize that those are my moments of solace when I don’t have to be concerned with his every demented request. It’s a short, yet pleasant, respite.
I need my buffer zone back. When it came to parents Jerry Seinfeld understood:
“Any thought pops into their head… I’m used to a 1200-mile buffer zone. I can’t handle this. Plus, I’ve got the dinners, I’ve got the pop-in’s. They pop-in! It’s brutal.”
It’s a continuous brutal pop-in, living with him. Nope: not going to the gym.
Another reason I’m not going to the gym with him is that’s his social circle and every out of work actor or screenwriter he’s befriended will be thrust upon me. He’ll say I work in the movie business (I don’t) or that my sister won an Emmy (not even nominated) and start working out some deal where the two of them are writing a screenplay and I’ll finance it and sell it. “You can rep it,” he’d say, as if he’s offering me a gift.
Once back in the 90’s I walked into the gym with him and I was traumatized for life. This was the day I met Captain Cool.
Captain Cool was another out of work actor/screenwriter. He had a skit he would do for schools and youth centers in and around LA to get kids to keep away from drugs. As if kids believe an adult is cool because he says he is. My father had met him and somehow thought his own son, who’d never financed more than a small starter home in Haller Lake, Washington, was going to finance and sell a kids TV series for PBS. I had worked with people who did this, but I didn’t know how to do this, nor did I want to. I appreciate my father’s confidence in me but…well actually, it was more a sign of his own desperation. He had already been indicted for arson and insurance fraud and was out awaiting his trial. He’d lost everything in the process and was trying to come up with a big score.
So, under the guise of “Come with me for a ride. I need your help in carrying something”, I take a ride with him. We get to the YMCA. “I just need to pick something up. Come in with me. It’ll just take a minute.” After I come in, I see a man sparing in the boxing ring. He sees my father, stops sparring and bounds on over. “Lou, is this your son?” My father had barely gotten the word “yes” out of his mouth, when this sweaty little man puts his arms around me and kisses me. “He kisses everyone,” my father later told me. “You think he could do that after he showers and dries off? He’s permanently stained my clothing!” My father told him that I work for “PBS, Channel 13.” Wrong: I worked for a local PBS affiliate in Seattle named KCTS and we were channel 9. “Curt’s going to help us get this financed and sold.” The rest of the conversation was a blur as my irate mind could only see red. When we got out of there I said, “Dad, what are you talking about? I can’t do any of those things. Leave me out of this. I’m on vacation!”
He had blind-sided me with the old “reverse pop-in” tactic. A brilliant pincer move on his part. And I fell for it.
Never forget these three rules:
1. Never tell him what you do for a living
2. Never go to the gym with him
3. Keep your buffer zone
Whatever you do, beware of the pop-in. It’s brutal.
© Curt Weiss 2014