Thursday, February 22, 2018

Tonights Entertainment Brought To You By Elmer

Let'sstart here, in the parking lot of the Pizza Hut in the little town of 'E' where we are meeting Elmer for lunch. Elmer has just driven up and parked next to us.

Elmer: (before any hello’s, hugs, or handshakes [Elmer is of that generation of progressive he-men that can hug his daughters but can’t quite bring himself to hug me]) You guys – (he is a midwesterner so the gentler y’all isn’t in his vocabulary) – you guys need to take me back to my trailer after we eat.

Huh?? His appointment to leave his car, the lightning-struck car with erratic dash lights, no ABS, or windshield wipers (that the local garage couldn't fix after a couple days of trying which they didn't charge him for) with the Ford dealer here in 'E' isn’t for five more days, so up until that moment our understanding of the plan for the day, a day carefully picked to be rain-free from the coast to 'E' and back again (see bit about Elmer’s car having no windshield wipers, then add in having only one eye, and that one questionable) was to meet Elmer for lunch, transfer The Wife’s care-package over to him, then we go our respective ways.

Except that Elmer dropped in to the dealer on his way here this morning to inquire about a rent or loaner car (I hope nobody in their right mind would be giving a one-eyed 90 year-old man a loaner car!) and the dealer said (in addition to no loaners or rent cars available in town) just leave the car and if we can get to it earlier we will. Apparently Elmer has taken him up on the offer.

Getting this information involved standing in the parking lot and shouting at Elmer because:  Dad, DAD, DAD, where are your hearing aids? – (True, he lost his fancy hearing aids weeks ago but has since found an old set that 'work better anyway') Oh, they’re on the table in the trailer. I don’t need those things.


By the way, do NOT try eating at the Pizza Hut buffet in 'E' between 11:30, when it opens, and noon on a school day. Seems this particular Pizza Hut is within daddy-bought-me-a-car-because-he-owes-it-to-me distance of the High School. High School kids are dangerous enough in twos and threes, but when they are in herds,hungry herds, the little shits are downright vicious!

It takes two of you to get any food at all. One, with knife in one hand and fork in the other, to fend off the perennially-hungry and supremely-disdainful-of-others teenagers while the other, with spatula in one hand for scooping slices and fork in the other for stabbing at the hands of any strays that got through, snatches up the few slices he can get to.

There are not many culinary choices there in 'E', but we won’t make that mistake again!!


Anyway – bruised, bleeding and still hungry, we limped back into the parking lot, dodging squealing tires, (I guess daddy also owes them periodic new rubber to replace the prematurely worn tires) bypassed mufflers, and ear-bleeding base, and proceeded to unload Elmer’s car into ours. Of course this includes the omni-present fishing pole that poked me in the eye every time I looked to the left on our drive down to the coast, and since it was rigged with a lure ready to go, threatened to add additional piercings to my ear with every bump in the road.

This transfer process almost included two plastic bags of fish-guts (don’t ask!) but The Wife noticed and stopped him, pointing to a dumpster and telling him to drop them in there on his way to drop the car at the dealer's.

Elmer tossed the bagged fish-guts back into his car, almost fell back out the door as he was getting in, and finally backed out and headed for the Ford dealer, driving right past the afore-mentioned dumpster without the slightest hint of slowing down.

While Elmer went off to deal with paperwork at the dealer The Wife had me take her just up the street to the Whataburger where she got a custom-grilled hamburger patty with onions and mushrooms to add to the cooked egg noodles that were one element of Elmer’s care package.

By the time we got back to the dealer Elmer had finished checking his car in and was standing on a knee-high terrace at the back of the sale’s lot. The existence of this terrace is kind of strange because anybody that thinks Kansas is flat has never been to the Texas Coastal Plains. The only thing to trip over for 50 miles in any direction down there is man-made, such as curbs and abandoned hoes.

– Well, I was thinking of the garden variety, but I suppose, under the right circumstances, one could trip over the other variety as well –

Even though Elmer was fiercely watching the road like a kid beginning to think that he’s been abandoned at the little-league field,  he didn’t see us (you know, what with only one eye, and not a very good one at that) as we pulled into the service area behind him. He did, driven by abandonment-issues anxiety, call The Wife as we rolled to a stop in the parking lot behind him and she told him we were here and all he had to do was turn around. At which point his head, which I could see over a couple of parked cars between us, promptly disappeared.

Because there was still no Elmer a minute or so later, The Wife got out to go see what he was up to, you know, in case he got lost or something. It seemed like it was forever (OK, so maybe I have my own abandonment issues!) before either one of them came back to the car. Turns out it took that long to locate and collect all the parts of his phone, which scattered everywhere, including way under a few of the parked cars, when he dropped it. But eventually they did return.

In addition to a handful of phone parts (once all the parts of Elmer's phone were put back together it still worked!) Elmer also came with those two bags of fish-guts in hand which The Wife snatched away from him just as he tried to climb into the back seat of our car.

Back at the car after an extended-arm, hold-em by the fingertips, trip to the dumpster to get rid of the bags of fish-guts The Wife twisted around in her seat and asked: 'Dad, DAD, DAD, did you fall off that ledge?'

Elmer: No, no, no, I didn’t fall off that ledge, but I did drop my phone when I fell off that ledge. . .

The Wife and I: (simultainious eye-rolls) 

Here’s a tip about having Elmer in a car with you: Don’t do it!!  I wasn’t kidding when a couple of posts ago I said Elmer smells like a stale ashtray, and when you cohabitate a confined space with him I swear that multiplies to more like a half-dozen wet, stale ashtrays! (I have this fantasy about turning him over and shaking him out only to discover butts from 1942 falling to the ground.)  And even though he’s very good about not smoking in other people’s cars, because of the ghosts of ciggarets past, the only way to survive the trip is to roll down two windows regardless of the weather, one up front and the opposite one in the back.

And the trailer, the trailer we spent days scrubbing the yellow nicotine haze off of every surface and de-scenting with $40 worth of Fabreeze not long ago so Dale and her husband could stay in it during a visit, is no better. The best way to deal with what passes for air inside the trailer is to not go in it at all, but if you do have to go in, hold your breath and make it a short stay. Unfortunately that’s not always an option. . .

While The Wife helped Elmer stash his care-package in the fridge and freezer (No Dad, you don’t want to freeze that. No Dad. DAD, DAD! Take that back out of the freezer!!) I installed two curtain rods complete with manly-looking curtains. (There were lots of frou-frou choices available but I didn’t think Elmer would appreciate that!)  I’m not a fan of mini-blinds, especially trailer-grade mini-blinds, and apparently Elmer isn’t either as he has ripped a couple of them down off the windows a few too many times! I got tired of unsuccessfully trying to explain to him over the phone how to put the damn blinds back up, hence the curtains.

By the time we finished our respective chores both of us were feeling pretty woozy from breathing Elmer-air too long, so before we had to call the paramedics on ourselves we left Elmer and started the unexpected two hour trip home, gulping in lungful’s of glorious Elmer-free air for the first ten miles.

But wait! The “entertainment” isn’t over yet!!

The next morning:

Elmer (on the phone): It took me forever to find the trailer keys this morning. (When we left him 14 hours ago they were sitting on the corner of the counter, right where he had put them, and he was so discombobulated by [not] falling off the ledge at the dealership, he had fallen asleep in his recliner almost before we left and didn’t wake up until this morning so he hadn’t gone out anywhere in between.)

The Wife: But you did find them??

Elmer: Yeah, but now I can’t find the goddamn phone.

The Wife (confused): What phone?

Elmer: My cell phone. I can’t find my goddamn cell phone! (When Elmer is agitated he reverts to his truck-driver vocabulary)

The Wife: Dad, the phone is in your hand.

Elmer: I’ve looked everywhere but I can’t find the goddamn thing

The Wife: DAD, the phone is in your hand.

Elmer: I don’t know what I did with it. I guess I’m just going to have to tear this goddamn trailer apart to find that goddamn phone!

The Wife: DAD! The goddamn phone is in your hand!

Elmer: Oh – yeah (embarrassed chuckle)

We are taking one good thing away from all these Elmer-isms though.  The Wife and I have begun compiling a list of things we’re going to do to The Daughter in a few years, still early enough in our aging process that we can properly enjoy driving her nuts!! After all, she deserves her turn too. . .

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