Observations on my 84 year old father: “One Night with Lou” Edition
On a recent short trip to LA, I spent one night with Lou at his bachelor pad. Lou started working his magic early in the day. He mentioned that he had chest cold symptoms and that he’d want to leave early from my sister’s Xmas party later that evening. This is how he rolls for every holiday party, even when my mother was alive. Only difference now is she’s not there to arrive bearing large platters of food. When he would start moaning about leaving an hour after he got there she would usually roll her eyes and say “Oy, your father wants to go home already,” or ignore him altogether. She knew he’d just want her to make a full meal for him while he watched boxing. She learned to forestall this by not only bringing loads of food to the party for the guests, but a separate meal for him, usually spaghetti and Chicken Cacciatore with garlic…on the bone of course.
Before we left for the party he started chopping up fruit so he could prepare his Herculean meal first thing in the morning. He’s still making his weird food concoctions. As he’s prepping it, he’ll inevitably try to get me to taste a chopped up piece of fruit. He’ll try and hand me a half grape, always sliced lengthwise, but his finger will be right in the meat of the grape. Call me a priss, but I wouldn’t accept soup from a waiter if his finger was in it, and won’t do the same from my dad…especially since I don’t see any soap in his bathroom. By the way: the grapes go in to his cereal. If he has cherries, they go into his drink concoction, floating like ice in a cocktail. Note: the next morning, as usual, half of the breakfast goes into the garbage. The leftover drink does get covered up with cellophane and go into the fridge. He seems to be evolving ever so slightly.
On the drive over I prodded him for info. Some blogs are crowd sourced. Mine is Lou sourced. He did his standard review of his multiple court cases, untrustworthy lawyers and doctors, and other related pursuits like wanting to buy a car, another back surgery, sell a screenplay, etc. He didn’t mention wanting plastic surgery. Another subject that was never broached: my mother.
It’s difficult to find things to talk about that don’t rile him up, depress him or encourage his madness. If I mention some of the old characters at work, it goes something like this:
Me: “Dad, I wonder what ever happened to Feliciano?”
(Feliciano was a Puerto Rican sales person in his store who was as close to Groucho Marx as a Latino could get).
Dad: “Ah, he stole from me.”
Me: “What about Charles?”
Dad: “I don’t remember him.”
Me: “He was from Haiti and had been a local assemblyman.”
Dad: “I think he started his own business with what he stole from me.”
Me: “I saw Ricky’s son online. He’s a big deal dentist now.”
Dad: “Well his other son testified against me. He showed up on the stand in makeup and false eyelashes. He’s a real problem for Ricky.”
I switch conversations and search for other types of small talk.
Me: “Dad, have you gone over to the senior center lately?”
Dad: “Yes, I had a nice conversation with a lady (pause). She turned out to be 93 (shakes his head)”
Me: “So dad, did you get your e-mail address all straightened out?”
Dad: “Yes. I needed it for a dating service.”
Me: “You mean a senior dating service?”
Me: “But dad, you don’t like older ladies.”
Dad: “That’s OK. I said I was 64.”
I saw this coming. He told my sister that he said he was 74. As usual, he can’t even get his lies straight.
All in all though, he seems to be doing relatively well under the circumstances. As a narcissist he has the ability to think only of himself and his needs and not get overwhelmed by the emotions that others might. Ergo, the death of my mother seems to bother him financially, but not emotionally to a great extent, at least outwardly. Yes, he gets isolated, seeks companionship, and even has hinted at wanting to use his you know what to do you know what, something my mother and him didn’t seem to do for years as they had separate beds. I know: TMI, but all lessons for the rest of us as we age.
Before I left, he asked me to drop him off in Santa Monica. He likes walking on the pier and I’m sure it helps his breathing problems related to his cold symptoms. In the back of my mind though, I also suspect he wants to be in Santa Monica because there’s plenty of doctors and hospitals. This way he could feign some illness, get rushed to a local hospital and stretch it out to where it become an all-expenses paid vacation by the beach. I drove him up and down the strip to find just the right spot for him to jump out. He’s trying to find a new place where the kids are hip. That Lou gets around.
© Curt Weiss 2014