Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Channeling Daddooooo

We made the hand off at Pilates.  My 10am class was ending, and JannyLou's 11am private lesson was beginning.  Mr. T was the prize to be shared.  I found him on the bench in the waiting area, receiving $1.50 in coins and bills from my classmate; for some reason, she decided that it was her obligation to provide him with the funds for a soda from the Subway next door.  No one is exactly sure why she felt the need to pay for his thirst quenching, but she did, and he is now $1.50 richer than he was when he woke up this morning.

It doesn't take a lot to put a smile on the face of a nine year old.

Leaving JannyLou to open her pectoral musculature, we considered our options.  Nope, he didn't want to walk with the kids at Prince.  Nope, he was too old for a playground.  Nope, I'm not up for hiking.  Nope, he wasn't interested in being my second set of hands and legs as I extended my irrigation system to include the containers in the courtyard.  

He was hungry.  He was thirsty. We settled on In-and-Out Burgers, although spaghetti was his answer to "What would you choose if you could eat anything in the world?"  It made no sense to me, but that was of no consequence.  Burgers and fries and Sprite it would be.  

Then, he told me that he'd never been to a hardware store.  Actually, the sentence was even more shocking - "What is a hardware store?"  For a girl who grew up with Daddooooo, that was as close to a sin as I could imagine.  Since there's an Ace Hardware two doors down from Pilates, we took some time to remedy that gap in his education.

We strolled past Anytime Fitness, considering how cool it would be to have a key to a gym that let you work out at 3am.  There were men on stationary bikes reading books, and women doing squats and smiling as we walked by, and then I nearly tripped over the gentleman poised outside the Ace, selling gas grills.  

I really ought to pay more attention to my surroundings.  

The front of a hardware store is filled with Buy Me Right Now treasures.  We scoped out the mini-flashlights, the key chains, the tiny screwdrivers.  "Why is it a hardware store?" he wondered, so I asked a red shirted friendly helper who drew the connection between computer hardware and software.  These were things we could touch and feel.  Though he didn't say, I imagine the creation/repair is the software piece to his analogy. I'm not looking at it too closely, though, and neither was Mr. T.

There were rows of rope and light bulbs and tools.  We spent some time in the nails and screws and bolts and washers aisle, opening the drawers and peering inside.  Some of those screws were bigger and thicker and heavier than he'd imagined they could be.  The gentleman standing two feet further down the aisle smiled as he overheard our chatter.... and I flashed to my dad, who would never have let that conversation go uninterrupted.

I could hear him explaining all the uses for the giant screw Mr. T was fondling.  I could hear him demanding to know all about Mr. T.... name, rank and serial number.  I could feel my stomach churning as I worried about what inappropriate, funny-in-his-mind-only, comment would come out of his mouth.  His presence was palpable.  He was there, with me, even if Mr. T didn't know it.

Daddooooo could and did spend hours at a time in hardware stores.  Kids were always welcome, but, since you never knew how long the adventure would last, I rarely went with him.  Of course, the fact that he didn't think that woodworking and electrical repairs and plumbing fixing weren't things that girls needed to know had something to do with my reluctance to join in his fun.  It's only in retrospect that I miss him and the dusty wooden floors of Faine and Seville, the hardware store in town.

Now, there are no more Messers Faine and Seville, there are only Friendly Ace Hardware Men.  Mr. T will find the screws in the same aisle in any Ace in any city.  I could bemoan the homogenization of life, but you've heard it all before.  Today, without anything to serve as a comparison, Mr. T was delighted and there was no reason to interfere with his pleasure.  I kept my thoughts to myself.

We bought him a $2 water rocket (which neither he, nor I, nor Grandpa Eddie can figure out... and YES, we should have asked for help before we left the store, as Mr. T noted as we struggled with the tube) after spending a considerable amount of time examining the moving monkeys (think the Singing Bass from several Christmases ago) and the wooden slingshots and rubber-band guns.  Daddooooo made those same toys for my kids when they were small; the man was everywhere, in spirit, at least.

At the checkout lane, the Friendly Ace Hardware Woman wondered if Mr. T had his Cookie Credit Card with him today.  Puzzled but intrigued, he shook his head as she reached below the counter for the square of paper on which she inscribed his name.  Now, each time he brings an adult into that particular Ace, he'll receive a bag of Famous Amos chocolate chip cookies.

This may be his first credit card.  I left the "use it wisely" lecture for his parents.

We paid, we said thanks, he held the door for me.  As we walked down the sidewalk to my car, I noticed a black butterfly resting on the ground.  Mr. T stepped carefully over its gently beating wings and I watched it fly away... tears in my eyes.

Ten years ago, sitting shiva after Daddooo's funeral, I opened the screen door to the house to let some visitors in.  Accompanying them was a small black butterfly.  Someone tried to capture it, and, without thinking, I said "Don't touch it! It's Daddooooo!"  The tiny beast flew around the living room, the dining room, the kitchen, checking out the guests.  Then, as the doorbell rang once more, it followed me to the hallway and flew away.

No one could tell me that wasn't my Dad checking out the party. Don't even try to dissuade me from knowing that he was with me today, too.  After all, I was taking a kid to a hardware store.  Where else would he be?


  1. Replies
    1. Beautiful.

      Nice to know we weren't the only ones who ended up at IN &OuT, I will have to save a field trip to ACE for another day!


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