My parents are visiting from Tuesday afternoon until Saturday morning. Mike was originally going to fly in at 5pm Tuesday, but managed to skip a class, change his flight, and he arrived at 1. He helped clean and otherwise prepare for them. 2:30 PM.
Mom: Oh! Mike is here! I thought he wasn't supposed to be here till later! Oh, you look slim!
Me: I was never not slim. I was never fat. You saw a picture with me in 4 layers of clothing.
Mom: Well, wow! you look slim!
If I were writing a novel with metaphors, sweat would signify crazy. Because OMG there is a lot of fucking sweat pouring out of my dad.
Dad: Hi! How are you? Val!! I have to change my socks! I'm wet! Scott, where can I hang up my socks? My feet are soaked. They're soaked.
Me: Um, the whole front coat closet is all for you.
Dad: God, I gotta hang up my shirt too. It's soaked! Val! Where are my Tshirts? Did you bring the ones I like? I have to change my socks too.
Mom [sensibly]: Yes. They're in the blue suitcase. Hold on.
Mike and I proceeded to show my mother around and prepare a mini-snack of an apple, pita chips, and water for them. They arrived at 2:30, having not eaten much all day. My dad used a blow dryer on his chest then put on a dry shirt, and the new socks from the blue suitcase. The goal was to get them out of the house as quickly as possible to see my school.
My dad refused to eat anything. "I don't eat snacks!" My mother reminded me as we got outside that "he doesn't eat fruit either." We walked to the L station, and I was asked "Is this a safe neighborhood?"
The train ride consisted of questions like "when are we eating dinner? what are we eating for dinner? is mike going to meet us for dinner?" I mentioned we were going to greek food
, and that I thought my dad would enjoy gyros, as he likes meat and onions and mayonnaise. He informed me that he "doesn't eat lamb!" As we got off the L, they asked "is this your school?" about no building in particular. This was followed by dad's "Ooooh! Sbarro! Let's go there. I could get some pizza now!"
Roberta was not around for the suite tour. Amy wasn't around for the "meet the boss" so they just met Bob and Palash. Lili was in the animal facility, so oh well.
—"So he's not a student?"
"No, he's a postdoc"
—"Does that mean he has a PhD?"
"Yes, he's post-getting his doctoral degree"
—"Oh, so why doesn't he have a job?"
"He does, he works for Amy"
—"Doesn't he want a real job?"
"It is a real job. This is what you do after you get a PhD"
We went inside and outside to see the Union. It was now 4pm.
—"Can we go to the restaurant now?"
"No, it's 4. The earliest I'm getting there is 5."
—"Scott! We haven't eaten all day. I need to eat!"
"Yes, that's why I offered you a snack. You refused it. I'm not getting somewhere and eating dinner before 5."
—"Well, can't I get some pizza or something? You said we're by the Italian food."
"Ok, let's go get you some Pompei. You can eat now, and then we'll be done by 5 and we can meet Mike for real dinner."
We proceed to walk to Pompei. During this time, my dad, who is wearing uglier-than-navy blue sweatpants, a Senior Softball maroon XL polo shirt, and a sort of raincoat/jacket hybrid that he borrowed from a snowbird, hood up, starts complaining that he's sweating, again.
Dad: Val I'm drenched! I'm gonna have to change my shirt again. Can Mike bring me another shirt?
Mom: Sure, Scott would Mike bring your dad another shirt?
Me: Of course.
Dad: (over the next 5 min of walking) I'm sweating like a pig! I'm freezing cold now. It's really cold. I'm soaking wet and I'm cold. I'm soaked. I'm drenched. I'm sweating through another shirt! This is just great! I can't believe how wet I am! Val, did you bring the other shirts! I hope we have enough shirts! I might need one of Scott's shirts!
We get to Pompei.
Dad: I can't go in there! I need to go home. Let's go home. I'm soaked and wet and sweating like a pig. We need to go home so I can change my clothes.
Dad: (on the return walk to the train) I'm gonna get sick. My throat is sore. I can't keep going in and out of buildings. You know I'm allergic to the cold. I have vasomotor rhinitis Val! You don't know! You have no idea! It's bad! I'm wet and I can't breathe.
Mom: After 30 years of marriage I know you get it.
Dad: We need to get home. I need to change my clothes. I'm soaked.
The train ride home consisted of him touching his head, and showing his sweat-glistening hand to my mother with shouts of "Look Val! Even my head is wet! Look!" This happened at least 4 times. He also complained repeatedly about how he would go and get his own food for dinner right away, cause he needed to eat. Walking back from the train, he kept making comments about how he needs to eat, how I don't know his body, how he has a fast metabolism. He told me that all of the Olympic trainers he knows told him when and how to eat. I explained that I've taken nutrition and I know what's good and that snacks are healthy and many small meals are good. He shouted, "You don't know anything! I know more than you! I'm an athlete!" Oh, he needed some food.
We're back. He changes. The blow dryer comes out again. It was used on hair and chest. This time, he gets dressed up in his Sunday best. And by Sunday best, I mean red longsleeve flannel shirt. I think even lesbians would be horrified. Mother reapplied lipstick and we were good to go. It was about 5:10ish.
When Dad is hungry, that's all that matters. The L stopped, of course. "Does this happen? How often does this happen? Has this happened before? How long will it take? I'm starving. You sure we're ok? Will I get to eat dinner? When will it move?" And every restaurant we passed got a, "Why aren't we eating there?" or "Have you ever eaten there? Is it good? I could eat there." We finally arrived.
Dad: What did you say I should get?
Me: I think you'd like gyros?
Dad: I don't see them on the menu?
Me: On the right, under Greek dishes. It's spelled g-y-r-o-s
Dad: Oh! there they are. What's a jy-ro meat? (said like gyroscope) Do I like a ziki sauce?
Me: It's, uh, sort of like mayonnaise.
Mom: Jerry, you might like guy-rose. What else is there for Dad?
Dad: Oooh! traditional pasta with meat sauce! I want that.
We order. Waiter asks if anyone want a salad or something.
Dad: Can I get a Greek salad? With no tomatoes, and no olives. [We sort of wonder what will be left: it turns out to mean iceberg lettuce, balsamic vinaigrette, and a couple slabs of feta.]
Back home, Mike also got a very detailed description of changes they've made to their own abode. About ten minutes of rambling is distilled as follows: purple wall. another purple wall. was going to make purple wall in bathroom, but painter cautioned against (too much of same purple). other walls, off white "swiss coffee, but it doesn't look like coffee, sometimes it looks sort of grayish." other bathroom, blue. pillows on couch. pier one. sale. 50%—no! 75% off. purple. yellow.
on the couch. real nice. real nice.
They also had to make a couple phone calls (to Mom's mother Goldie, most importantly, and Dad to someone he plays softball with). These calls featured less of their analysis of the visit or their impressions than raw, completely unfiltered data. "They have a nice area rug. The dining table is frosted glass. The counters are black. They put up shelves in the bathroom, instead of a medicine cabinet. They hold more than a medicine cabinet. They take their shoes off at the front door! They say it is easier to clean if you don't track your shoes in the house. I think it's like what Asian people do. But we took our shoes off, too. They say they don't have a coffee machine, but they can make coffee. [We heat water and use a press pot.] Jerry wants to get up early and make coffee but he can't. We saw the Sears Tower."
Dad's conversation with his neighbor / softball-friend (from Naperville) consisted of the Chicago native asking what Jerry had done or planned to do ("We were by Taylor street today. By the Italians"), and then shouting place names at us as if it were some kind of a random-association type of quiz: "Greektown. That's Halsted? That's right. The Hancock building? He says to go to the 95th floor. We're going to Michigan avenue? Where's Oprah live? What about Lincoln Park? Old Town? Wrigleyville?" etc.
Oh, and my mother proceeded to show&tell me a whole bunch of crap. I got a $5 blockbuster gift card, since the blockbuster near them only has DVDs and they still only have a VCR. I got a bag of jelly beans that were discounted from the Jelly Belly factory because they visited and got the marked down mis-shapen ones. And she showed me a "real nice" sweater she bought for my dad. It was marked down from $50 to $7. She made a point of pulling out the tag and showing it to me. "John Ashford!" And guess what, it's on ebay
! (his is XL too)
The evening ended with my mother checking her email, slowly, and filling out her surveys so she can get free samples of shit (I got a Swiffer duster sample last week!) while my dad watched Fox News. He would ask Mike things like "What do you think of Iran?" "What's your opinion on Harry Belafonte?" "What do you think of Lieberman?" or just make comments like "Ugh. Chuck Hagel is gonna run!" My dad checked the Boston Celtics homepage. We watched my recorded episode of House. They asked me things like "Do you think he really has brain tumors?" "No, it's probably a fungus." After commercial, it's a fungus. "How did you know that!" "I'm in medical school."
They went to bed by 10. Mike and I blogged this for an hour. The fun resumes at 8 tomorrow, when we take the bus up to The Bagel.