6 Jun 2012

Sins of the Father

Cucumbercalypse now 
There comes a time in everybody's life when you finally just shrug, shake your head and mutter, "I'm too old for this shit." As made famous by Danny Glover as Roger Murtaugh in Lethal Weapon. And later, paid homage to by Ted in How I Met Your Mother. The idea being, once hit by this profound realization, you drop whatever time travelling device you're holding, and immediately start acting your age. That's right; step away from the Ed Hardy tee shirt rack, old man. There's no excuse for Ed Hardy tee shirts, not even on young people.

Unfortunately, my Dad didn't get the brief. What makes it more painful is that he's one of those people who were never that young to begin with. I don't mean he was boring; just that his interests were always more serious than other kids' Dads'. So while my friends dozed off in school after staying up all night watching the World Cup play offs with their Dads, I'd scribble furiously into my journal my impressions of Tolstoy and Dickens because they were the nominated topics of dinner conversation that week.

Since I moved back in, my Dad has asked thrice that I accompany him to the barber shop. I obliged once. Throughout his haircut, he made the barber stop repeatedly in the middle of his craft to ask me if he should maybe keep a portion long, or part it in a different way, or adopt a quiff. He once wondered aloud if the barber could do anything about the grey hairs on his body.

My Dad also decided that I would be his conduit to the E-niverse. In the last couple of months, I have introduced him to the computer, created his email account and set up a webcam so he can Skype with my sister's kids. He is still unable to fully grasp the concept of googling stuff -he thinks all things have allotted residences of their own on the web, and keeps asking me for the "address" for this and that. I think he's worried that it's somehow impolite to access a website through a search engine, and not directly by typing in the web address. I can't convince him that it's not the same as Uncle Chaz dropping in unannounced.

On the whole though, he has made steady progress. The other day, he asked me if he should change his shirt in preparation for a bout of Skyping with Legs Gracy, an old friend of my parents'. Legs had a bit of a reputation in their college for wearing short skirts. I figured any reason was good enough to rid him off the shirt he was wearing- it was fluorescent green and tight, and clung to his paunch like a drowning man to floatsam. He promptly strutted back in wearing a Che Guevera teeshirt and a beret. Mom spilled her coffee on my knee, but the court is yet to prove intentional harm.

Happy as I am to help Dad through whatever issues are leading him to buy CDs of One Direction -I haven't gotten round to teaching him about file sharing yet- I determined to save him and my niblings any embarrassment by warning them about his propensity to midlife. It was a phase, and it would probably be over soon, but it would do no harm for the niblings to be prepared. I survived the first one on my own; I would guide them through the second coming. I was Uncle Cool, and I would have The Chat with them. Their parents could thank me later.

"So what I'm basically saying," I say, "is that Grandpa might do things that embarrass you and make the other kids give you hurtful nicknames that scar you for life, but it's only because he's old and mental."

They look nonplussed. The poor things haven't grasped the seriousness of the situation. They don't know about "your Dad smells like old socks." They were born after the Sideburns, and the Vespa; long after the disappointment of the Seventies passing him by in his youth had been atoned for during mine in the Nineties.

"Guys, this is serious," I tell them, "he will reference movies that you should never admit you like. He will frame participation certificates from cricket camp in the living room. He will crush your spirit, and bulldoze your self-respect, but don't let him see you cry. Ok? Cry only when you're alone, not in front of him. Don't let him win."

My nephew looks up from his iPad. I'm finally getting through. "Rita says you embarrass her all the time," he says, pointing at his sister. I laugh. I'll let Rita take this one; tell the little fella he's mistaken. "It's not all the time," says a flushed little Rita.

My world comes tumbling down; folding in on itself. Their words echo off my eardrums as though from a great distance.

"Yesterday," says a voice that sounds a lot like my Rita's, "you liked your own status update on Facebook."
"Shelley's mother," says the voice, "told my teacher you send her strange texts at night."
"You lifted me up by the ankles in the car park and all the boys saw my underpants," says the voice.
Oh God, there's more. She's only getting warmed up. 
"You keep retweeting your own tweets," she says.
"And you're always cheating at Uno," adds a lower tenor.
Et tu, nephew? 

Later that evening at the barbershop, Dad and I are seated in adjacent chairs, hair being tended to while we watch the news.
"So what made you come with me to the hairdresser's?" my Dad wants to know.
""You promised to call it "barbershop"," I remonstrate, "and I needed a haircut."
"Right. Did you know," says Dad, "they have this thing where they put your feet in a tank full of fish that are trained to give you a footjob?"
"Don't gay this up," I tell him, "and it's called a pedicure."
"Sorry," he says, "can you hand me the remote? Sick of the news."
"Doesn't bother me," I say, "Can't see a damn thing with these cucumber slices over my eyes."

                                           Icy Highs's Video Recco: Rocky VI Training Scene



meandmythinkingcap said...

looks like you have an awesome dad. Loved your nostalgia train stories.

Revacious said...

I've probably not read enough of your posts to say this, but this was your best humour! (You give your dad too hard a time, he inspires you incandescently!)

FruitCake said...

Hilarious stuff. All of it :)

Workingdan said...

Great stuff man! Loved the ending! Freakin hilarious!

The Angry Lurker said...

Very enjoyable read, the only thing cucumbers are good for!

Sarge said...

Yo should meet my parents - Dad is waiting on getting hearing aids and Mom won't wear her's - So you have to talk loud. They both came of age dring the Great Depression and that warped their psychic tremendously - even a small amount of left over food goes in a small plastic container and in the frig.
The shit turns fucking green! "Should I throw this out"?
ICY, Louis Pasteur would've beeb proud.
Mom's sister is an idiot - a sixth grade education and thick as a damned stone.

On any long trips - I drive.



Windsmoke. said...

That's what all parents do embarrass their kids they can't help it :-).

red dirt girl said...

My kids think I'm inappropriate all the time. I think it started when my oldest was about 13 riding in the back of the car with his good friend. The good friend was a hip dresser and always had his hair 'just so'. I asked him if he was metrosexual. That started my ignoble decline into the land of 'embarrassing parent.'

Fast forward 6 years and I'm conversing with my now 19 year old. He and his little bro, ll years old, were hanging out in my room talking to me on Sunday. I looked at my eldest and asked, "So, how's your social life going?" He gave me the oddest look and flushed a deep red ... "Mom, are you REALLY asking me how my SEXUAL life is in front of my little brother ??"

Hahahahaaa ... Actually, I was the one who turned a deep red. "NO NO NO! Honestly, I do not want to know about your sex life. TMI"

Awkward ...

Jenny Woolf said...

God, I am your dad's female shadow in London. Well, I'll have you know my kids LIKED talking about Charles Dickens at lunch. And I'm way cooler than other women of my age. Don't knock this old-yonng thing till you've tried it

Oh, actually(I've read on a bit) maybe you are trying it

austere said...

Aww that part about your sister was super cute. Ankles and all, did you really now.
btw does your family read this?

And said...

You have a really nice blog!
thanks for comment mine :)

hyperCRYPTICal said...

Hah -the joy of aging! Sad thing is us old'ns feel no different inside and so we can't act old.

I remember in my younger days hoping I would die before I hit thirty as thirty was so so old! (Glad I didn't!)

Excellent post - one day will you be embarrasing your children? :o]

Anna :o]

Helena said...

LOL.....What a hoot! You do my ribcage in, you do.....!

Ygraine said...

Absolutely brilliant!
You had me in stitches with this one.
And the ending was great :)

Train said...

Hey, my name is Train and I really enjoy your blog!!! Red for Doesn't Speak Klingon sent me to your blog and I gave you an award!!! Come check it out at


goatman said...

Rita sounds like a little gand.

See, I'm learning . . .

Arunima said...

so, the pedicure happened?

icyHighs said...

Thanks for reading and commenting, you guys.

MAMTC - Gotta agree, my Dad's brilliant.

Revacious- He can hardly complain; he gets to play muse, and gets a dedication when my novel comes out.

Fruitcake & WorkingDan - Glad you think so guys!

Lurker - I've been told cucumbers have plenty other uses, but I couldn't be sure...

Sarge - That reminds me of my Grammy actually. The concept of throwing away bad food is just alien to her. If it's been cooked, it will be eaten. Someday.

icyHighs said...

Windsmoke - I think my Dad takes that particular parental duty a little more seriously than others.

Red Dirt Girl - Whew, that could have been awkward. My plan is to just stop talking to (my) kids once they're past 12.

Jenny - I have to admit I really appreciate it now, gave me a very solid foundation. You can imagine how it must have felt at the time though.

Austere - My family knows I blog, and they've read the occasional post (usually when I make them), but I don't think they follow it regularly. Why?

And - Cheers!

Hypercryptical - Don't bring 30 into this. I have my 28th approaching and I'm struggling to shake the feeling of walking eyes shut into an onrushing train.

Helena, Ygraine & Train - Thanks guys, appreciated.

Goatman - DUDE, that's my niece you're talking about. Easy.

Arunima - They don't call me Twinkle Toes for nothing.

Hannah Denski said...

Aaaah, quality time with Dad, nice one!x

Sarge said...


Tis the Sergeant. Let me clear up some things that you may have read on my blog about my former Indian MD. Well, I can't understand him and we are dealing withh possible prostrate cancer. My trust level with Amjad Mufti went to zero and I sought a US educated American MD St Mary's.
These MD's from India come over here and low bid contracts with the VA. Over at the VA hospital at Marion they had a Indian MD doing heart surgery that was killing people (21 died) The VA closed the cartiac clinic at Marion over this
Now, I don't have a problem with Indians, Asians, or whatever. I have controlled Air India, Thai Air, JAL, Korean Air, and even
Vietnamese fighter pilots.
The biggest pronlem over the language barrier was the fact that he was arraogant and wouldn't listen
Amazingly, Dad uses the same MD without a problem. Mufti actually told my father that I was hard to communicate with...

At any rate - I don't have a hard on for people from India but prefer American MDs...


icyHighs said...

Sarge, NO idea what you're on about. But if you're not happy with your MD, find one you like man. Doctors are like wingmen; if you dont trust them you can kiss your prostrate goodbye.
Good luck.