Friday, September 05, 2008

The Happy Wanderer


Labor Day found us heading to the Weebles to celebrate Ma's 90th birthday a day early. We had picked up a cake, a bouquet of flowers, and a card. Traffic wasn't too heavy so we were zipping along.

"There's your father," Himself said as we zipped by the old brewery.

"What? Where? Are you sure it's him?"

"There's no mistaking him. He's wearing a straw hat that looks like a dog chewed its brim, a plaid jacket that looks like some poor VW bug is missing seat covers, and he has his cane slung over his shoulder with a shopping bag on the end of it like a hobo's pack. Should I loop around to pick him up?"

Himself likes to drive in the passing lane and there was no way to pull over to pick up the old man. Dad was some two miles from home.

"Yeah, don't let him walk home. What the hell was he doing up here anyway?" I could feel the muscles in my neck clench and me without my Tylenol.

"Do you think Grandpa dresses like he's homeless on purpose?" asked The Young One.

"Maybe he thinks if he dresses poor mouth, no one will bother him while he's wandering around town," I answered smoothly. I wasn't really sure of the reason. He has tons of clothes, many of them new, still in their original plastic with pins holding the folds neatly in place. I've teased him for years that he has a trousseau. I have a feeling this is another instance of Weeblenomics. The clothes he wears are threadbare and out of style, but perfectly serviceable. What's a few holes? The new clothes are to be saved. I'm not sure what occasion he's saving them for, perhaps his funeral. I might have to tell him, we can only bury him in one outfit. He won't be able to take his wardrobe with him. Wonder if we'll be able find a short, portly fellow on eBay to buy Dad's expensive Hickey-Freeman suits, he used to wear them to work and they are still hanging in the closet?

Himself took the half cloverleaf turn and headed back up the highway. We were now on the Westbound side, and I was anxiously watching the Eastbound side for a glimpse of Dad.

A black SUV, what Dad calls a "Soove" had stopped on the highway next to Dad. My heart leaped to my throat, and I watched with horror as Dad accepted the ride.

Note to self: Get a pack of Tylenol Meltaways (no water needed) to keep in the car in case of Weeble induced headaches while on the road.

By the time we made the second loop, the black SUV was gone.

We turned into the Weebles street, and there was the SUV parked in front of the Weebles' driveway. Dad was leaning in and chatting with the driver.

The driver was a young, good-looking fella in his mid-thirties.

"I take it this is your dad?" he asked.

"Yup, that's him. Thanks for picking him up."

"No problem." We watched as the driver turned the black SUV around.

"Did you know that man?" I asked Dad.

"No."

I sighed heavily. "Y'know the old rule about accepting rides from strangers applies to you too."

Dad shrugged and gave me a sheepish grin.

"What the hell were you doing up there anyway?"

"I went to Eliot to visit a friend. Then Roche Bros. had a deal on paper towels."

That's what was in the bag that was looped around his cane. The store was close to two miles away from where we saw Dad on the highway. The shoes on Dad walk round and round.

"You couldn't have waited until I came Thursday to take you guys to the Mahket?"

Another sheepish grin.

Maybe we need to have an electronic fence installed around the Weebles' house. Then if he crosses the line, the electronic collar will zap Dad to remind him to stay in his own yard. On the other hand, the Happy Wanderer would probably learn pretty quickly that if you took a running start and ran through the electronic wire, the zap would only hurt for a second or two. Or if he sat by the boundary long enough, the collar battery would wear out, and he could happily wander away without a zap.

Oh, may I go a-wandering
Until the day I die!
Oh, may I always laugh and sing,
Beneath God's clear blue sky!
Val-deri,Val-dera,
Val-deri,
Val-dera-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha
Val-deri,Val-dera.
My knapsack on my back.

2 comments:

Nutterone said...

As scary as it is, Dad needs to wander... It's his freedom!

Erica Vetsch said...

Love your descriptions...yup, dad has happy feet.