I have lightly ribbed my father over his embrace of Pandemic Socialism (he gets his food from the local high school. instead of buying his own groceries). But, for the most part we don't discuss his politics because they've decayed to terrible in recent years.
Today, he called, telling me about how his friends and neighbors hadn't received their stimulus checks, and he hadn't received his, and how he didn't understand what was taking so long. And, lo, last Friday a stimulus check arrived in his PO box, and he bragged to all of his more liberal neighbors about how Fecalface Sucksatgolf was making sure the people who supported him got their stimulus checks first (as if he could somehow now).
You, Dear Reader, may have figured out that it was Not his stimulus check, but was in fact, My finger-on-nose, Clinton-voting stimulus check that arrived because that was the address I filed my 2018 taxes from last year.
A few of his neighbors have since received theirs. His has not yet arrived.
My dad listens to talk radio in the car, on our way back from the Portguese American club, where he goes on a regular basis, despite not being of Portugese descent.
Racist White Lady: I want to thank you and ICE for your service protecting our fine country from terrorists. The illegals keep killing people. And there are no reprecussions for them. They just go to to sanctuary cities, and hide, like cowards.
Me: That's not the way sanctuary cities work. If you commit a crime: murder, embezzlement, drunk driving, illegal gambling, you still go to jail, or get deported. You just don't get arrested for existing.
My Dad: I want to hear what she has to say.
RWL: All our money goes to paying for illegals to get health insurance and drivers licenses. Meanwhile, all our homeless veterans are freezing to death on the streets.
Me: This lady should start volunterring at homeless shelters. Maybe donate some money to some veterans' institutions. No one is stopping her from supporting our homeless veterans but herself.
Dad: But our money keeps going to help illegals.
Me: No. Our money keeps going to Jeff Bezos and Zuckerberg, and Trump, and all of those other people who don't pay their employees health insurance or a living wage. Who stiff the people like you and me, who actually work for a living, so that they can afford to play golf on one of the courses attached to one of the dozen hotels they own.
Dad: That's captalism.
Me: IT DOESN'T WORK. I work thirty-five hours a week for a guy that doesn't pay my health insurance, and who owes me seven and a half months of back pay. Capitalism sucks.
Dad: Why don't you work 40 hours a week?
Me: Because the people who own businesses schedule people so that they don't have to pay their health care, because they're greedy shitheads who can't actually afford to support their business while also living the lifestyle they think they've earned.
Dad: But why should my money --
Me: NO ONE WANTS YOUR MONEY. You're not wealthy. Trump has never climbed a telephone pole to restore electricity. Rush Limbaugh has never spent an hour trying to help a depressed mom find a cheap graphic novel to help her son learn to love reading. Tucker fucken Carlson has never volunteered his time for Big Brothers/ Big Sisters Of America. They SUCK. They don't care about you or your money unless it's going to them, personally. They hate you. They hate me. They even hate my boss. Why do you keep listening to a bunch of White Nationalist Assholes who want you dead?
Dad: We can agree to disagree.
Me: No. You are protecting the people who steal from you, and redirecting your anger at people that they are trying to murder. This isn't "which type of music do you like?" The people you're listening to for life lessons are actively starting a class and race war against the people who would actually help you if you were in trouble. If you're tied to a railroad track, and a train is coming, who do you think is going to help you? A person who, like your great-grandparents, came over to this counyry to escape terrorists and poverty, or a smug, shitbag in a bowtie who tells you all Mexicans are drug dealing rapists?
Dad: Why do we argue about this every time we get in the car?
Me: Because you don't listen to music anymore, you listen to wealthy white guys who've never worked a day in their lives, who try to tell you that people who work 40-60 hours a week for a non-liveable wage are somehow the enemy just because they didn't wait twenty years to get a bunch of paperwork signed by the same people exploiting them for work by not paying them enough!
Dad: Can we agree that religion is our enemy?
Me: YES. But note how all those Christians that you don't like are supporting the media and President that you support. Isn't that, like A Giant Red Flag to you that these people are full of shit?
My dad turn the radio to the oldies station.
My dad asked me what I was listening to on my headphones last night while he and my stepbrother were watching Hogan's Heroes.
"Oh, I'm editing some Prince albums."
"I never liked Prince," my dad, who doesn't listen to many artists whose careers started after the early 1970s, says. "He didn't look right .. too many hats ... too much purple ... flamboyant. He was too flamboyant looking."
"But he's an amazing musician."
My dad makes a stink face.
"Have you seen his guitar solo for 'While My Guitar Gently Weeps' at the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame?"
He had not.
Now he has.
Verdict? "Ho shit. Does he always play like that?"
Me: "Not always. But often. And when he did, it was magic."
My mom: I can tell you're on the ferry. I can hear the seagulls.
Me: Those are people. I'm sitting inside the boat in the non-seabird section.
Mom: Your suitcase is too heavy. You'll have to pay extra.
Me: I don't think so.
Mom: I'll get the scale. You take the books out.
I take the books out.
Me: See, it's only thirty pounds.
Mom: It feels heavier.
Me: I don't have twenty pounds of books in this pile, so I'm going to put them back in.
Mom: I don't know. How heavy is that one?
I take my copy of The Working Girls' Bible and put it on the scale.
Me: Seven pounds! Still, the rest of the pile is probably about four pounds.
Mom: Weigh it.
Me: Three pounds. That's a total of forty, which is still ten pounds under the limit.
Mom: Don't forget you still have to put in your bathing suit.
Me: Yes. My twelve pound concrete bathing suit is what's going to push it over the limit.
Mom: Victoria is coming after seven with some fresh baked brownies for you.
Me: That's very nice of her. Is this going to be like the orange bread that Sue made that I never got a chance to try because you and your husband ate it all?
Mom: You are not ever allowed to tell Sue that.
With all the badness of this month, so far, I need to give credit to the people my dad forgot were looking after his mom.
When he got to the house, he said there was paperwork everywhere, and several personal items were missing.
When her husband died thirteen years ago, the people who were supposed to be taking care of him had pilfered some paintings and books (none of them actually valuable), so my dad was heartbroken that they had taken precisely the things my grandmother valued: her old radio, her favorite clothes, her record player, etc.
But they weren't stolen. My grandmother was in a nursing home for less than a day, but for that day, the wonderful people looking after her made sure she was surrounded with as many familiar things as possible.
And that paperwork? All the bills they helped her keep track of and pay for the last several months when she couldn't keep track of her own thoughts.
I'm really grateful to those people, only one of whom I even know, for making her last few months as comfortable as possible.
Continuing decades of absolutely terrible communication skills, my dad calls to tell me he's picking up his mother.
Me: "Oh, she's going to live with you now?"
Dad: "Nah. I'm picking her up from the morgue."
Me: "What happened?"
Dad: "She died."
Me: "How?" She was 95, so probably not skydiving or in a bank heist.
Dad: "I don't know. No one will tell me. But the cops just showed up to let me know she's dead. None of her caretakers are answering their phones. So I'm going to Connecticut tomorrow. I have no idea what I need to do. I guess I'll call you when I get there."
Me: "Ok. Let me know if there is anything I can do."
Dad: "Talk to you later."
2019 can suck a bag of porcupines.
My Dad: "I see you brought chicken broth. How much did you pay for it?"
Me: "I don't know."
My Dad: "Tomorrow is Black Friday. You could have gotten two boxes for $4."
Me: "Then I wouldn't have had it to make dinner with today."
My Dad: "We should pick some up tomorrow so you'll have them for next year."
Me: "I'll pass."
Me: Did you ship something to the store this week?
My Dad: Yea.
Me: I thought so. You addressed it to yourself and you didn't put the store name on it, so nobody was sure who it was for.
My Dad: Yea, I wrote my name with your address on one label, and your name with my address on the other. I figured the address was the important part.
Me: Ok. What's in it?
My Dad: Oh, I got you a pair of jeans, a windbreaker, and a leather jacket.
Me: For my birthday?
My Dad: Oh no. It was your birthday?
Me: Yea. Tuesday.
My Dad: I didn't even get you a card.
Me: But you got me jeans and two jackets*. I can wear those. I can't wear a card.
This man has bought me clothes exactly once since I was in high school. A few years ago, he sent me four xxxl t-shirts and a pair of jeans I could have used as a hammock.
My Dad: I think I got you the right size this time. If not, you can return them.
Me: Ok. Where did you get them?
My Dad: From a catalog.
Me: Ok. What catalog?
My Dad: I forget the name of it but I put the catalog and a bunch of coupons in with the clothes, in case you wanted to order more.
Me: Ok. I'll let you know if everything fits.
My Dad: Sounds good. I'll work on getting you a birthday present sometime soon. What did your mom get you?
Me: A card.
My Dad: You can't wear a card. Does this mean I win?