Best Friend For Christmas

I am super excited to announce the release of, Best Friend For Christmas. It is the first book to the series of tales of Promise and Snow-po.

Best-Friend-for-Christmas-CoverTo purchase or preview a copy at Amazon click here.

 

Losing My Christmas Sprit

Losing my Christmas Spirit

 

This year I began my holiday preparations early. I started my holiday layaway in July. Making payments every week even though I had lost my job after returning from summer vacation. I would not let the economy foster or predict Christmas of 2015.

I began to put holiday lights on the house two weeks before Thanksgiving. It was nothing elaborate, but after recovering from a very painful injury, surgery, three weeks of bedrest, crawling up and down the stairs of my home on all fours and scooting on a scooter, while my neighbors continued to park in front of my house I would not let the last Christmas before my son went off to college to be ruined.

Hours of watching holiday movies on the Hallmark Channel, hours upon hours of baking for the troops in my spouse’s Army unit my spirit level was in the high marks. The holiday season was full of bonding with my son and husband as we went to dinners, visited Christmas lights and as they helped me packed the baked goods for the troops.

Sounds perfect, so how did it all just go to shit?

It all began with the best of my intentions for the Senior holiday party my son asked me to make my grandmother’s recipe of rocky road fudge or my own chocolate chip cookies. For some wild crazy reason, I did not do either; instead, I went out to purchase one of those fancy cookie cakes with a colored icing drawing of a Christmas tree and the message of “Merry Christmas Class of 2016.”

Unknowing that this would upset him, as each day passed he got more and more passive aggressive towards me. Then Friday night before Christmas, I pushed my family again to do more holiday events. We piled in the car to see the live Nativity scene. My son was rude, but quiet, my husband was distracted, but we went even with the family dog.

As we drove through the holiday light displays my son and husband began to spout out knowledge of the Angels in the bible. I began to interject, but only to hear from my husband, “I am Catholic. I know about Angels. I am not sure what bible you read.”

I am Methodist. I am the smartest person to attend service and often I don’t, but I do read the bible almost every day. Then my teenage son began to spice things up with his own comments.

Once out of the park, my husband exclaims, “Let’s drive by the movie theater to see the turnout on the Star Wars movie.” Which we did. We drove around the parking lot. Across the street from the movie theater was a home with beautiful lights. I demanded with great energy, “Let’s drive through to look at the lights.” We did. Then out of the conversation, my son and husband begin to exclaim how I have nothing positive to say about the movie theater. I try to defend myself, but under the two I felt very attacked. I wept. Then my weepy tears became small rivers. My perfect holiday was coming to a crash.

The battle continued to the point where my son was telling me how he was disgusted with my political point of views. Over and over I felt battered with each verbal blow. Back at home, I took my dog and retreated to the bedroom to cry myself to sleep.

The next morning we woke up at 7 am to go watch Star Wars. The viewing of this movie was more important to my husband than anything I had ever witnessed in our ten plus years of marriage. After the movie, like every good battle never completed, it pressed on with more verbal attacks on one another.

 

My son, mad, upset and ashamed of me came to me to resolve the underlying issues that caused all his frustrations towards me. One after another fault of mine that came from his lips hurt but were true. I did not view the world’s problems the same as him. My fears of guns was real from my own experiences as his were not, because he never been in similar situations. My kind acts were not his wishes. My views of the holiday, bible, and religion were not the same. All these were true. Then I said, “Son, I am only a portion of your views. You were born of a man that no longer visits, talks or writes to you, but genetically you have some of his characteristics. Your step father has been nurturing you into a young man for over ten years, of course you are going to value his opinions and such. I don’t want you to be like me, or even like the same things I do. I just want you to be able to tolerate that I am who I am based on my experiences through life. My views are my own, but don’t judge me for them.”

 

Now, today is Sunday, four days before Christmas. My family has been shaken apart from our holiday spirit by our points of interest, actions, views and history, but I will not let the negativity destroy our holidays. Instead, I will not lose heart. Galatians 6:1-10 talks about in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.

For any of you readers who have had Christmas stolen from you by loss of job, surgery or illness, miles apart, politics, financial hardships, deaths, injustices or anything else do not give up on your holiday spirit. There are so many places to fill up your spirit and break down the walls that separate us from our loved ones. My gift to you, is I love you all. I wish you all a Merry Christmas!

What is love?

Love has many meanings. It can the pride a mother has for a child. It the strong physical and emotional bond between baby and mother. It is the beauty in a flower, sunset, mountain tops or dress. Love can also be the euphoria of tingle when a puppy nestles up under your neck.

Love is the desire to want to know more about someone. To stay up and talk all night. To read the books they love, listen to the music they enjoy. Watch the movies they like. It is looking forward to celebrating their birthday with them. It can be wanting that person to succeed so much that you are willing to sacrifice all for them.

Love can be the tenderness of the familiar. The sight of home. The comfort in your favorite chair after a long day. It can be the excitement after receiving a long desired gift.

Love can be touch. It is the bond of a child nursing on a mother. Love can be a hug from a teacher, pastor, friend, father, mother, sibling, or spouse. Love is the tenderness of ones lips touching your own. Love is physical. It is soft. Love is gentle never aggressive.

Love is respect, care, kindness, sadness, curiosity, happiness, tears of loneliness, tears of happiness, touch and desire to want to know all about the one you love.

When you no longer care to understand the other person. You no longer want to touch, kiss, or hug love is missing. Love that hurts is love that is gone. Love can only be taken away by betrayal.

There are many types of betrayal. The most popular sexual cheating, emotional cheating, drugs, alcohol abuse, lying, physical abuse, gambling, shopaholics, sabotage, and deceit. Betrayal can come from your lover, mother, father, uncle, aunt, grandmother, grandfather, teacher, doctor, friend, pastor, enemy, or more.

What if your lover is smart, has a great job, goes to church, comes home every night, and takes care of you, but constantly betrays you? Maybe your love for that person is so strong that you stay with that person no matter how often they betray you, even if they do it every single day.

Betrayal is the only thing that can poison your love for another. When one betrays you so much that your own self-worth is destroyed it is time to find a new love, a love for yourself.

Love for yourself is the greatest love of all. Be kind and gentle to yourself. Learn about yourself. Care for yourself. Celebrate yourself. Most of all, no matter how many people betray you, never betray yourself. You are one of a kind. Your love should be one of kind too.

Vern meets Susie

It was Saturday. Vern woke up early. She threw on her sweats and went downstairs. She made breakfast for her father. He sat at the table reading his newspaper eating his eggs. Vern sat down beside him drinking a cup of coffee. “Daddy, after I clean the kitchen, make the beds and vacuum the house I’ll be heading out. I’m meeting Susie for lunch.”

“Who’s Susie?”

“She’s my old college roommate. She got into pharmaceutical sells in the nineties and made a fortune.  She’s in New York this week for her annual visit to corporate. Now do you remember her?”

“Yes, she’s the sexy, skin and bones girl with the red hair.”

“Yep, that’s her.”

“Am I coming with you to lunch?”

“No, no, no of course not, Susie wants to meet up with me for lunch at one of those stuffy restaurants. The kind that makes you wear shoes, shirt, and pants.”

“I wear pants.”

“Yes, sometimes you do. Then there are those times I find you wandering about the VFW in those running shorts that look rather similar to skimpy male swimsuit.”

“Hey, I don’t complain about what you wear.”

“True, but I don’t wear the type of clothing that anyone could complain about, unlike you.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Anyways back on topic daddy. I’m just letting you know my plans for the afternoon. I’ll bring you back something to eat.”

“Yes, yes, I got it. You are going to lunch with some yuppie friend of yours from college and you want to gossip about things I don’t give a crap about. Just make sure you bring back a pasta dish, with bread, don’t forget to make sure they put extra sauce on the side and if it’s no trouble get me a dessert. Better yet, you should get two desserts in case I don’t like one.”

“Daddy, I’ve never seen you not like a dessert.”

“There is always a first.”

“Never mind, I need to get busy or I’m going to be late.” Vern went about cleaning up the kitchen. She cleaned the table and put the breakfast dishes in the washer. Then she stripped off the sheets and put clean sheets on the beds. Then she started the laundry. She cleaned the bathrooms. Then she folded the clean linens. She started a new load of clothing in the washer. Afterwards, she vacuumed the house. Over two hours had passed while Vern cleaned the house. The timer went off on the oven.

“Vern! Vern! Vern!” Vern’s father hollered from his chair in front of the television.

“Got it daddy.” She went into the kitchen to turn off the oven cleaner.

“Are you going to town like that?”

“Oh no, I set the timer, so I know it’s time change. I’m going back upstairs now.” Vern hobbled up the stairs.  She got into the shower. She went in her closet and looked around for an outfit. She fumbled around until she found exactly what she was looking for. She got dressed. Then she put her wet hair in a low bun. She slipped on her favorite old pair of tennis shoes. They were those toning shoes that looked super cool with the little bumps on the bottom of the soles, but now, they were old and the shoelace on the right shoe was so frayed that she had to tie it in a knot. She made her way back downstairs. Her father was in the kitchen getting some juice.

“Vern you look like shit.”

“Thanks daddy.”

“No Vern, I’m not kidding. You look worse than you did when you were cleaning the house.”

“I know.”

“Why? Why are you going into to town looking like that?”

“Daddy, Susie has never had children. She got a tummy tuck last year. She just got a facelift this year. Susie has a personal shopper at one of those stores that forbids you and me from entering. She gets her hair done every week; in hence, she’s perfect.”

“You look like you are wearing a garbage bag and those shoes are falling apart. What the hell does that have to do with you wearing that black plastic workout suit?”

“Everything, I can’t compete with Susie. No matter what I do, I will look like trash compared to her.”

“That’s your excuse for dressing like trash?”

“Yep.”

“Vern, just don’t go if she makes you feel that way.”

“I want to. Susie is full of fun stories. I love meeting her and listening to her gossip about her life. I just get tired of trying to compete with her, so I give up.” Vern replied standing at the front door.

“Sweetheart, I will never understand you or any women for that matter.”

“That’s the grace of age, you don’t have too anymore.” Vern was walking out the door.

“Vern, don’t forget to get my food!” shouted her father.

Canary

I apologize for my absence from the world of blogging. 

 Last Friday, my grandmother passed away. 

 I dedicate this short story to my grandmother.

There once was a little girl named Sara.  She lived in an apartment building in Manhattan overlooking Central Park.  Her mother was busy with social engagements while her father worked many hours as a pilot. During the war, Sara’s father flew commercial jets for the military transporting soldiers to the battlefield in the Middle East.

One day two pristine dressed military men arrived at the apartment.  Sara’s mother sat solemnly in the living room talking to the two men decorated with ribbons and medals pinned to their chest. Sara was curious, but she stayed in her room till the men left.

Over the course of the following week Sara attended her father’s funeral, assisted her mother with packing all their belongings and moved from New York City to a small cabin in the Rockie Mountains of Colorado.  The house had no internet, no cable or satellite television and no telephone except for her mother’s cell phone.  It was summer time so Sara spent most of her time coloring or playing with her dolls, but she missed her father, her friends and looking out her old bedroom window watching Central Park.  New York City glistened with lights, sidewalks were full of people and streets are adorned with rows of traffic.  Now, in the mountains Sara was feeling incredibly lonely without her father, the quietness of her mother and her new view from her cabin window.

One day from Sara’s window she watched humming birds dance around the flowers.  Attracted by the small birds Sara went outside to play near the rocks of the Colorado River.  She tossed rocks into the water, chased a frog and watched birds play.   As Sara was getting up to walk back home, something glistening in the grass caught her attention.  She walked over to the object.  It was a very small bird egg.  It was partially covered by broken pieces of what looked like a bird’s nest.  Sara looked around for a mother bird.  There was no sign.  It was getting late so Sara picked up the little bird egg and gently wrapped it in some leaves to carry it home.  She showed the small egg to her mother.  Together they  made a small home for the egg in an old shoe box.  They borrowed a heat lamp from the veterinarian to shine on the small abandoned egg.  Sara and her mother were  now busy taking care of the small egg. One day they noticed the egg beginning to hatch.  The next morning a baby bird was born.  Sara and her mother fed the bird with food drops from the local veterinarian.

Before long the small baby bird began to walk in the box.  Sara and her mother bought an antique bird-cage from the flea market to make as his new home.

“Momma, the bird’s feathers are turning yellow.”

“Let me see.  Hmmm, they do look rather yellow compared to the gray they used to be. I’m still not certain what kind of bird it is, but in time we will know.”

Over the following days the baby bird grew more and more yellow feathers.  “Momma, I think the bird is a Canary.”

“Sara, I don’t think Canaries are native to Colorado.”

“Can I name it?”

“Sure.”

“I’m wanna name it Lemon Drop.”

“That is a very odd name.”

“I know, but It’s yellow feathers remind me of daddy’s favorite candy, lemon drops. Will that make you sad?”

“No honey, I think Lemon Drop will be fine.”

Lemon Drop grew in to a strong beautiful Canary.  Through out the year, Lemon Drop sang songs,  talked, and perched on her Sara’s shoulders.  Lemon Drop brought joy back in to Sara and her mother’s life. The two of them were once again happy.

The following fall, Sara went to bed with the window open.  A rain storm with gusting winds blew into her room chilling Lemon Drop.  The next morning he had a cold. Lemon Drop sat at the bottom of his cage looking ill instead of singing, talking or perching. All day long he did not eat or drink. Sara and her mother took Lemon Drop to the veterinarian.  She prescribed him medicine drops.  The following days Sara and her mother gave the medicine to Lemon Drop, but his health was not improving.

“Momma, is Lemon Drop going to leave us like daddy did?”

“Sara, daddy did not leave us.  He passed away.”

“I don’t want Lemon Drop to pass away. I miss daddy.  I’m going to miss Lemon Drop.”

“Lemon Drop is not going to leave us.”

“Then where is he going?”

“Lemon Drop is going to shed his wings for larger wings. His new wings will be so grand he will fly above the clouds and among the stars and back down to us.”

“But, I won’t get to hear his song.”

“If you listen closely you will hear his song among the whistling winds.”

“But, I won’t get to feel the warmth of him perched on my shoulders and the tickles of his feathers on my neck.”

“If you go outside the rays of the sun is the warm touch of his love.”

“Momma, I’m going to miss Lemon Drop like I miss daddy.”

“Sara, Lemon Drop might be fine.  Give the medicine time to do its work.  Your daddy never left us.  Your daddy like Lemon Drop has grown wings to soar the sky and stars.  His love is in the warm touch of the sun’s rays.  Daddy’s voice is scrambled in the winds.  Daddy never left us, he ascended. He is above us.  Daddy is here and will always be here for you.  Let’s go to bed.  Tomorrow Lemon Drop may feel much better.”

The next morning, Sara woke up to find Lemon Drop perched on his swing singing.

Daddy’s Lips

Vern’ s father looked frantically around the house. He just could not find it. He called Vern at work. “Daddy, this better be important. It January, busy season, I don’t have time for phone calls. There are people staring at me as we speak.”
“Screw them. They can wait. It’s going to take more than a few minutes to lose weight. I’m suffering here. I can’t find the chapped lip stuff.”

“Lip balm?”

“No, the stuff I use on my lips when they are cracked.”

“It’s called lip balm daddy. You probably left it in one of your pockets. The doctor is coming, I’ve got to go.” She hung up the phone.
Vern’s father licked his lips. The dry cracked skin burned from the salt of his saliva. He looked around the house. He tried lotion, but that burned too. Then he used ice but as soon as he removed the ice, his lips burned again. Then the cold from the ice started to make them throb. He went snooping around the bathroom cabinets for anything that could make his lips better and using it.  At last, he found some eucalyptus spearmint lotion. He rubbed a hefty amount on his lips.  At first, his lips tingled then as seconds turned into minutes his lips began to burn even more than before.  He used the sleeve of his robe to wipe it off. Frustrated he called Vern at work again.

“Dr. Slim’s office, how can we help you tone up and slim down?”

“Vern, Vern”

“Daddy, what are you doing? I told you I was slam busy.”

“It’s my lips Vern. They’re killing me.”

“Again, you are calling for the lip balm.  I’ve already told you I don’t know where it is.”

“I give up. I looked everywhere.  Can you come home at lunch time and bring me some?”

“Noooo! The house is almost an hour’s drive.  Are you kidding me?”

“Vern, you’ve got to help me.  I’ve tried ice. I’ve tried butter. I’ve tried conditioner and your eucalyptus lotion.”

“You put all that crap on your lips?”

“Yes, and they still hurt. That smelly lotion makes my lips feel numb and burn at the same time.”

“Daddy, how about you walk to the store and buy some medicated lip balm?”

“I don’t want to. I want you to bring it to me, plus, you know what I need. I’m clueless.”

“Noooo! I’m working. I have to get off this phone before I have another outburst from new clients in the lobby.”

“Fine.” Daddy hung up the phone. He decided to heed Verns advice and walk to the store. The sun was shining. It was fifteen degrees above normal in the small New Jersey town. He walked to the gas station. He felt good from the walk but the wind made his lips burn a little more, so he went to the refrigerators to get a cold soda. He stood there gulping down his 20 ounce when he caught a glimpse of two of his friends from the VFW. They were standing at a counter scratching off lottery tickets. Daddy waved to them.  His lips were so dry that he could feel the skin cracking more when he was talking to Vern, so he did not feel up to talking to his friends. He walked up and down the aisles looking for the lip balm. He did not want to ask the cashier, because he did not want his friends from the VFW to know he wore lip-gloss or whatever Vern had called it. He paid for his soda and left without anything for his lips.

Outside the store, daddy thought about just walking home, but if he didn’t get something to soothe his lips he would not be able to attend tonight’s VFW nacho dinner. It was once a month. It was one of his favorite days of the month. Vern would never approve of him eating a plate full of tortillas piled high with cheese, beef, chicken, jalapeno peppers and lots of salsa. Damn it! I’m going to have to walk on base. It’s my only option to find something to repair my cracked sandpaper lips, or I just won’t get to go to the nacho dinner.

The base store was only a mile from the gas station. He was a little out of breath once he got inside. When he walked into the store, he caught a glimpse of what looked like a medical counter. He could not see well because he forgot to wear his glasses. He found a woman wearing a  white lab coat over a dress. She looked like a pharmacist. He walked up to the counter.  His swollen, cracked, burning lips were throbbing and he did not want to open his mouth full when he talked so he mumbled.

“My lips” He said while pointing to them.

“Excuse me Sir?”

“I need something for my lips.”

“Ok, our lip products are over here?”  She led him to a bar stool at a countertop with mirrors. “Is there any color you are looking for today?”

“No, I need it for the puffiness.”

The woman smiled. She pulled out a small tray of samples. “I know exactly what you need.” The woman put on some lip-gloss on daddy’s lips. He felt an odd sensation, but it was better than it felt before. “Do you like it?”

Daddy shook his head in agreement. Then he took the container to the cash register. The cashier looked at him with surprise.  Daddy shook his head. “My lips…”

The cashier nodded in agreement.  Then she handed him his change. Daddy walked back home. He made himself a sandwich and played video games till Vern got home. Vern came in the door as usual with her hands full of groceries. Daddy continued to play his video game. After Vern sat her bags down in the kitchen, she came into the living room.

“Daddy, I got you some lip balm.”

“You’re too late.”  He looked up at Vern.  She started to laugh.

“What in nation’s name is on your lips?”

“Lip stuff from the store on base.”

“Lipstick?”

“Noooo, I got it at the medicine counter from the nice girl in the white coat.”

“Did you wear your glasses?”

“Nooooo”

“Did you tell the girl you are color blind?”

“Noooo.  Why are you asking me all these questions?”

“Because, you look a little draggy”

“Draggy”

“Yes, like a drag queen. Where’s the tube of lip stuff?”

“In my coat pocket”

Vern went to get the lip product her dad bought from his coat pocket. “Daddy, you bought red raspberry  lip volumizer lip stick.”

“That explains a lot.”

“What do you mean?”

“I thought I heard the girl helping me chuckle. Then the cashier was a bit surprised when she saw me. Then I thought I saw the mailman blow me a kiss.”

“Daddy, the store does not have a medicine counter. It was a makeup counter. I hope you learned your lesson.”

“Yeah, you should stay here and take care of me instead of sending me out into this sick world looking for lip stuff.”

Vern is busy

Vern sat at the kitchen table working on the computer and papers scattered about. Her father was busy watching football in the living room. Vern’s father was beginning to become concerned, because Vern was not her normal compulsive self.  Today she was completely focused on her project.  Most weekends she spent all of her time in the house cleaning, organizing and most of all attending to her father, but not today.

“Vern, can you get me a soda?”

“No Daddy, I’m busy.”

“Ok, I’ll get it.” He sighed, but instead of getting up right away, he waited until the next commercial break. Then he crept into the kitchen to spy on Vern. She was busy looking at something on the internet and drawing a series of lines on paper with colored pencils. He didn’t want to interrupt her, so he went to the refrigerator to grab a 20-ounce bottle of soda.  Then he went back to the sofa to watch the game.

“Vern, I forgot to get a snack. Can you bring me some chips?”

“No Daddy, I’m still busy.”

“Busy doing what?”

“Just busy”

“Fine Vern, I’ll get it.” Vern’s father did not get up to get the chips; instead, he called and ordered a pizza with hot wings. Since the pizzeria was only three miles away the delivery man arrived within fifteen minutes. The doorbell rang.

“Vern, can you get the door.”

“Who is it?”

“The pizza man”

“No, I’m busy.”

“Fine, I’ll get it.” Vern’s father opened the door and signed for the pizza. He went and sat back down at his chair in the living room.

“Vern, I need my table. Can you get it?”

“No, no, no, no Daddy!  I’m busy.”

“What can you be so busy doing while I’m here suffering?”

“I’m mapping.”

“A trip?”

“No”

“Then what can you be busy mapping while I’m not being cared for?”

“Daddy, I’m mapping my veins.”

“Your what?”

“My varicose veins, I’m sick and tired of having these blue and purple lines going down my legs. It is time I plan a course of action.”

“I like your veins. They look cool, especially the one on the back of your knee. It looks like a tattoo of a spider. When you walk, it moves as if it is real. You should stop what you are doing. Come sit with me and watch the game.”

“No way, I’m going to be real busy now.”

“Why?”

“Because, I forgot to map the veins on the backs of my legs. I didn’t even know I had any there.”

“Mapping your veins is not going to help you. You’d benefit more watching the game with me. You can feel good,   making sure I’m comfortable.  Then I won’t have to get up to get everything.”

“No, today you’ ll have to take care of yourself. I have to map my vein,s because the doctor said he would laser treat as many veins he could in thirty minutes. I am creating a map, so the doctor can spend less time talking to me and just follow the map.”

“Good thinking Vern, but can you help me out a little. I’m struggling here.”

“Fine Daddy, I’ll get your table, but then I’m back to mapping.”

“You know what Vern?”

“What?”

“Every time you come in here to bring me soda or stuff I can help you out by pointing out your veins.”

“How thoughtful, you’d do that for me?” Vern asked sarcastically.

“I know. I just want you to know I support you.”

“Yes, you support me like another painful pair of compression hose.”

Daddy goes to Macy’s Parade

“Vern hurry up! We’re going to miss it!”

“Daddy I didn’t get up at four in the morning to start the commute to the city at five to just sit in traffic all day. I’m trying to find us a parking spot.”

“Try harder! We should’ve took the train.”

“Nope, the last thing I want to do is sit with you on the train locked in with a bunch of strangers. I can never anticipate what’s going to come out of your mouth.”

“Fine, but you should’ve not taken the damn Lincoln Tunnel.  That’s what slowed us down.”

“I know…”

“Those tourist busses and large trucks think they own the roads.  They cut off all the cars off, slow down traffic to standstill and blow that black smoke out all over the cars. They don’t even have a place to go. It’s Thanksgiving.”

“Daddy, I’m sure those big truck drivers just want to drop off their shipments and head home. Let’s be nice. It’s the holidays.”

“Nooo, it’s more.  This is my first time at the Macy’s Parade. Your mom always insisted on a traditional dinner. I’ve sat in the living room watching the parade for my entire adult life. Now your mom is peacefully resting, I’m going to the parade.”

“You deserve it daddy.”

“Damn straight. Whip the car in there.” Vern’s father pointed to a parking garage near Times Square.

“Got it” Vern took a sharp turn to the right. She got out of the car and handed her keys to the attendant. She grabbed for the backpack, her coat, hat, scarf and bottle of water out of the backseat of the car. “Let’s go daddy. We’ve got a bit of a walk.”

Vern’s father was coming out of the garage bathroom. “Coming sweetheart!” Vern’s father was smiling. He was beaming with the cheer of a child. Then on the bottom of his shoe was a five-inch piece of toilet paper. Vern did not want to ruin the mood for her father so she lightly stepped on it so it would come off her father’s shoe. The two of them started walking West on 52nd Street to Broadway. The gusty winds were freezing. Vern stopped for a moment. She wrapped the scarf around herself and one around her father. “Vern, I’m a warrior.  I don’t need this crap.”

“I’m just trying to help.”

“Then let’s step it up. It’s after eight. I want to see the entire parade.”

“Fine, I got it”

They continued to make their way towards 34th Street, front and center of Macy’s. Closed to traffic the streets were full of crowds of people walking towards the parade.  At the corner of 36th and Broadway, a police officer was turning away crowds. Vern’s father approached the officer. “What do you mean we can’t go any further?”

The officer stood alongside of a group of other police officers. There was a police truck handing out coffee and bottled water to the officers. “You need a V.I.P. pass to go any further.”

“I’m a war veteran. Is that V.I.P. enough for you?”

“Not my rules.  I can’t let you pass unless you have a V.I.P. ticket.”

“Ok, ok, where can I buy one?”

“You don’t. Macy’s mailed them out. If you didn’t get one, I can’t let you pass.” At this, time another officer came up to join the conversation.

“Daddy, let’s go. The parade starts at Central Park and goes all the way to Times Square. We still have plenty of time to find a spot.”

“Ok Vern”

Vern and her father worn out by the long drive, long traffic waits to get into the city, search for the parking spot and tiring walk, started walking back towards Times Square. They stopped on the corner on Broadway and 40th Street. “I can hear it coming Vern.”

The band music was echoing off the buildings. Her father was excited.  He stood at the corner watching the parade with amazement. The crowds on the sidewalks were growing. People were pushing against Vern and her father, but the chilly winds, crying children and pushy people could not ruin the joy that came to Vern and her father. After the parade, they began to walk towards the parking garage.

“Vern, thank you, after your mom passed, I didn’t think I would ever be a happy man.  This is one of the greatest days of my life, but…”

“What’s wrong?”

“It’s just that… I want to see if I could go one more place before we leave the city.”

“Ok”

The two were in Times Square when her father stopped at what appeared to be a restaurant with thick tinted windows. Her father opened the door. Vern stepped in. A hostess wearing stiletto heels and bikini welcomed them. Vern grabbed her father’s arm. “I’m sorry. We’re in the wrong place.”

“Vern, I’m hungry.  It’s almost one o’clock. I want to eat.”

“We are going to eat, but not here.”

“Come on Vern. They serve food.”

“Not the kind I want. This is a bikini dance place.”

“You have to imagine it as entertainment. What could be more beautiful than a girl like that dancing on stage while we eat a steak?”

“You’re pushing it old man…” Vern gave him the evil eye and pulled him out the door.

“Can’t blame a warrior for trying.”

Daddy’s Jeans

Vern’s father was upstairs getting ready for bowling.  He was busy tossing things out of his dresser onto the floor.  He shouted, “Vern where’s my blasted jeans?!”

“Daddy, they’re in your dresser.  They are right where I always put them.”

“No, Vern!  They’re not here.”

“Yes, they are.  Keep looking.”

“Damn it Vern!  The only jeans in my drawers are not mine.  Mine had a stain on the right thigh.”

Vern went to her father’s room.  He was standing in his robe with black dress socks.  “Daddy those jeans on the floor are yours.”

“If they are mine; where’s the stain?”

“There was no stain.  It was dirt.  I washed them.”

“There is no way in hell these jeans are mine.  They don’t even go to my thighs.  I’ve been wearing the same size of jeans my whole life.”

“Let’s face the facts.  You’ve gained weight.”

“I’m a warrior.  I don’t gain weight.  You lost my pants and  you don’t want to admit it.”

“Daddy, I’m going to prove to you that those jeans are yours.”  Vern picked up the pants.  She looked for the washing tag.  Underneath it in permanent black marker was F5555.  She showed the writing to her father. “There you go.  It’s the first letter of your last name followed by your last four of your social security number.”

“There not mine.”

“Yes, they are.  You even wrote your identification number in them.”

“Ok, so if those jeans are mine you’ve ruined a perfectly good pair of jeans.”

“How’s that?”

“You shrank them.  You made them so small they won’t cover the front door or back door.  Damn things don’t even go up my legs.”

“Don’t get your underwear in a wad old man.”

“I’m not old.  I’m a war veteran and I don’t wear underwear!”

“Fine, after work I’ll go to the store and buy you some bigger jeans.”

“I don’t want bigger jeans.  I want my jeans.”

“Daddy, the truth is your special diet of beer and chips, followed by an excruciating workout of video games are causing you to gain weight.  If you just went for a walk with me and lay off some of those chips you’ll be back in your favorite jeans in no time.”

“Vern, I don’t get.  I don’t believe I’ve gained weight.  I think you are just lying to me.”

“Daddy, the jeans are yours.  The jeans don’t lie.”

Daddy’s athletic pants

Vern and her father were at the mall shopping.  Vern felt her father was in serious need for athletic pants.  Her father was comfortable in his normal attire of jeans with button-down shirts.  He did not like the fact that Vern was attempting to change his style. “Vern, I don’t need stretchy pants.  Those are for young, old and sport fanatics. I’m none of those people.”

“You’re right, you’re not, but yes you’re getting athletic pants.”

“I look good in my jeans.  I’ve been wearing jeans every single day since I retired from the Army.  There’s nothing manly about a man wearing parachute pants. You can hear them walking; you know? The pants whistle like swish, swish, swish…”

“Daddy, they are not stretchy pants, parachute pants or anything your crazy head comes up with.  You need some athletic pants to wear around the house.”

“You’ve forgot.  I don’t wear pants in the house.”

“No, I didn’t forget.  I know you don’t, but after today you will have some athletic pants to wear around the house.”

“But I won’t.  The only reason any man wants to be home is so he can take off his pants, eat, drink, play video games or watch television in his skivvies.”

“Well, I’m tired of coming home finding you in your underwear.”

“Then don’t come home.”

“Daddy, stop fighting me.  You’re getting athletic pants.”

He sighed.  Vern was looking through the rack of pants in the sports store.  Her father approached her. “I’ve found it.”  He held up a pair of itsy bitsy spandex shorts.  They were so small they made men’s bikini swimsuits look modest.  “Ahh…daddy, that’s underwear!”

“Noooo, they’re shorts.  See here.  Read the tag.”

“My underwear is bigger than that!  You’re underwear comes to your knees.  Those shorts won’t cover your cheeks or anything else for that matter.”

“Vern, you said you wanted me to wear athletic pants.  These are made for volleyball.  They are stretchy.  They are bright and cheerful.  I bet they’re comfortable.   I like the colors and they have little smiley faces.  My belly can hang over the waistband. That way I don’t get heartburn anymore.”

“Nooo, you are not wearing those pervy pants!  Men are endowed with special elements that should not be disclosed.”

“Yes, I know that.  I bet the shorts fit nice.”

“You’re losing it old man.  We came here to get you athletic pants, so you are leaving with athletic pants not some patch for your private parts.”

“Vern, I’m a war veteran. I’m not an old man.  I don’t want pants.  I want theeessee! I refuse to wear pants in the house and you don’t want me in my skivvies.”

“It’s winter.  You’ll freeze in that.  You could get arrested for wearing those in public.”

“Why?   They’re shorts.  Read the tag.  You told me you wanted me to wear pants in the house.  You never said anything about wearing stretchy pants outside the house.  If I want to go outside I’ll put on my damn jeans.”

“Daddy, most people your age are wearing sports pants.”

“There is nothing sporty about wearing plastic, cotton, puffy, elastic waist athletic pants around town.  Those people are just hiding the fact they’re wearing diapers.  I’m a war veteran, Vern.  I’m not old.  I’ll put my jeans on everyday with same gusto I’ve used for the past fifty plus years.  This is insulting.  I’m insulted.”

“I’m sorry daddy.  I didn’t know you were so passionate about your clothing.”

“Hell yeah!  I’ve earned the right to wear jeans.  The blood, sweat and toil of my life spent in combat and garrison for twenty-five years as a soldier gives me the right to wear my American made jeans.”

“I said I was sorry.  That’s enough.  Let’s go.”

“Well, what about these shorts?”

“What about them?”

“You said you were going to buy me some pants.  I want these.”

“No you don’t.  You’re just joshing me.”

“Vern, feel them.  They are soft and stretchy.  I want them.  Buy these shorts for me, pplleeaassee.”

“No.  You’re not wearing those around the house or anywhere else when you already have perfectly good long brief underwear to lounge in.”

“But I want them.  You said yourself that you’re tired of seeing me in my underwear on the sofa.  You took me all the way here.  You threatened me into wearing some diaper covering pants.  Now, it’s your turn to be humiliated.”

“What are you doing?”

“I’m putting on the pants.”  Vern’s father went into the dressing room.  He put one leg into the shorts followed by the other.  He pulled and tugged on the spandex shorts.  The neon colored shorts were getting so stretched that the smile faces were no longer smiling; instead, they looked more like the faces of Frankenstein.  He pulled them all the way up to crevice under his belly. They snapped like a rubber band in place.  Vern was waiting for him outside the dressing room.  She was expecting him to come to his senses and come out fully dressed.  She knew that he was just playing around.  He would never wear something that small.  Then a few minutes later Vern’s father stepped out of the dressing room. 

“Oh my gosh! Daddy, what are you doing?!”  She put her hands over her eyes.

“You didn’t believe me, so I wanted to show you the shorts fit.”  Vern’s father stood there in store wearing his black dress socks to his knees, topless, with the volleyball shorts on.  It was apparent that her father was no longer wearing his underwear. The hair on his belly and legs made him look like a Neanderthal.  His body hair camouflaged the volleball shorts to near invisibility.

A sales associate made her way over towards Vern and her father.  She looked at him with shock. “We have a code yellow at the men’s dressing room.”  She spoke into a walkie-talkie.

“Sir, I need you step back into the dressing room.  This is a family store.”

“What?  What’s wrong?”  Vern’s father asked with his hands on his hips.

“Sir, step back into the dressing room or we’ll have to take you by force.”

“These are shorts.  Look!  You’re store sells them.”

“Sure, we’ve heard it all before.”  The sales girl replied.  “Code orange at the men’s dressing room.”  She announced into the walkie-talkie.

“Daddy, just get in the dressing room and put your pants back on.  I told you, you were going to get arrested in those pants.”

He stepped backwards into the dressing room.  Vern talked to the sales girl and manager.  She apologized.  She told them her father was just having a diabetic hallucination.  She paid for the mini volleyball shorts.  Dressed in his jeans and shirt Vern’s father was escorted out of the store by security.  Inside the car Vern’s father looked at his new shorts admiringly while picking off what seemed to be body hair.  “See, I still got it.”

“What do you mean?”

“Come on, Vern!  Didn’t see how excited that girl was when she saw me in these hot pants? I looked good…”

“Daddy, that girl thought you weren’t wearing pants.  I had to explain to her that under your belly and hidden in that bush of hair on your legs and belly was a very small pair of volleyball shorts.  She almost didn’t believe me.”

“Not true, Vern! Not true!  You’re just jealous that you’re father can make sirens go off.”

“Yes, police sirens”

“Well, I guess you’ll think twice before taking me shopping again.”

“Yes daddy, I think I will.”