In the stores, after surveying the perimeter of the aisles for an accompanying female companion or spouse, the wily onlooker moves in for the kill. “Oh, what a cute baby,” she says, even if said baby resembles the she-devil incarnate and is spewing green unidentifiable drool. Or, “Awwww, what kind of dog is he?” no matter how smelly or disheveled the precocious guy is on the other end of the leash, be it Cute Guy or the puppy.
Well, I’m here to even up the score, ladies. I just learned that there is only one other inhabitant on this earth that invokes a similar motherly response − but from all genders − giving us the one up on Cute Guy and His Brood. And that, my friends, is my 93-year old father-in-law.
Recently, The Mister and I were lucky enough to score some college bowl game tickets this year and, as a Christmas gift to my father-in- law, we invited him along. Really, at 93, life is just too short to let him sit around in his lounge chair watching the boob tube eating soup and saltines and not being able to taste the live spectacle of the goings on behind the scenes at an ESPN broadcast booth, or catch a glimpse of John Gruden in person. Oh, never mind, that was my fantasy, but I digress.
I’m telling you, during our trip, I witnessed throngs of people spreading like the biblical waters of the Red Sea. Open paths were abundant, people stopped and slowed down, waitresses pinched his cheeks and gave him extra helpings of biscuits and gravy. Flight attendants smiled, pilots offered to walk him down the aisle, men struck up conversations about which war(s) he witnessed, and children wanted him to be their grandpa.
He’s got them all fooled. He can be as cranky and mean as a miser, cantankerous and crabby − and that’s on his good days. My husband still strives for his approval, but his moods swing like a pendulum, and he can be demanding and difficult. Oh, no, wait. That’s me. Alas, Pops is slowing down. Technology is speeding up, yet every time I am out and about with him, I am reminded to take my time, eat slowly, savor every moment, stare at absolutely nothing a lot, breath deeper, relax and never, ever, turn down a good party.
Puppies and babies grow up so fast. You won’t always be able to push them around in a stroller or let them frolic on the end of a leash.
But we can have the next best thing. I think I’m going to go invest in a really fancy hightech wheelchair for Pops for our next outing - one that operates on a gyroscope with a seat that tips zero to 90 degrees at the press of a button. Then the masses will really swoon all over him. Besides, those warm biscuits are calling my name.