Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Life with Jake......Firing up Ol' Betsy!

Jake, my dad, is a rebel and refuses to purchase DSL internet service. He tried it once and didn’t like it.  Jake said it didn’t work properly. I told him it was an operator error.  I explained that the service did work properly but the computer he was using couldn’t handle the new technology (their computer is about 10 years old with a 50 MB hard drive).  So, they live in the Stone Age and use dial-up internet service.  He says that DSL is a waste of money and that the providers of such services are thieves. **Note:  Jake believes that everyone who doesn't give him something for free is a thief! I explain to Jake he should upgrade to this service if for no other reason than to make my life comfortable when I’m visiting.  Do you know what it is like not having internet access for days on end??!!!  The withdrawals are painful – very, very painful.   I am forced to spend considerable amounts of time squinting and killing the battery on my Droid.  This is not healthy for me.  Jake tells me that if I need to use the internet he will be happy to fire up Ol’ Betsy.  Ol’ Betsy is the pet name he has assigned to his archaic computer and dial-up internet service.  I tell him I would prefer to drive 100 miles and smoke a Camel rather than deal with that mess.

One morning, as we are standing in the kitchen chatting, he said he wanted me to look up the telephone number for Dial-A-Nurse on my phone.  I wanted to suggest he fire up Ol’ Betsy and look the number up himself, but I complied.  In less than 60 seconds (after using my handy dandy Droid), I was writing the number down for him.  I took this opportunity to once again tell him that if he had a modern computer and DSL, he would have been able to acquire the number that quickly himself.  He said that it would have only taken him half a day and that he could do other things while waiting on Ol’ Betsy to get going, therefore it would be a waste of money to get DSL.  I shook my head, sighed deeply and walked out of the kitchen.  After all, who can compete with Ol’ Betsy!

I’m just sayin’,

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Life with Jake....Stop Wasting My Water!

For those of you who are keeping up, this is the third installment of my little blog series on Life with Jake.  Jake is my dad.  He will be 77 years old next month.  I would like to say that his actions in the stories I’ve been relating are due to his older age, but sadly, they are not.  He has always been this way.  While growing up, common phrases around our house were, “don’t touch my walls, you’ll leave fingerprints and scuff marks”; “don’t lean back in my chair, you’ll break the legs (not our legs, the chair legs)”; “close the refrigerator door – your cooling the whole house” (you know, the swapping of air syndrome – doesn’t every parent have this?); “no you can’t have new shoes those still have part of a sole, put newspaper in the bottom like we did”; “turn off the lights you are wasting electricity”; and so forth and so on.  My dad was one of those kids who walked to school in the middle of a snowstorm, uphill, coming and going.  Because snowstorms were so frequent in Birmingham, Alabama when he was growing up!

When we were kids we were not allowed to take showers, we had to take tub baths. According to Jake, if you took a shower you were wasting water. The only time I got to take a shower was when I went to camp or slept over at a friend’s house.  So, being the rebellious child that I was, when I moved out of the house, I vowed to never take another bath – and I haven’t.  Showers only for this chick!  And now, when I visit my parents’ house, I take showers.  And what is Jake’s response?  To beat on the door and tell me to hurry up - I’m wasting his water!  Seriously!  If you don’t comply with his request, he will turn off the water to the house to force you out of the shower.

The other night my son decided to get a shower after my dad had gone to bed.  Ahhh, that’s using the old ‘noggin.  If Jake is asleep then he won’t know how long you are in the shower and you don’t have to hurry along.  This would be the logical thought process.  However, with Jake, this would not be the case.  About 3 minutes into Jared’s shower, Jake comes out of his bedroom, groggy from sleep, in his 80 degree sleep attire (see previous blog), to tell me to tell Jared to hurry up, he is taking too long in the shower, thus wasting his water.  My mother looks at me (as we were in the middle of a conversation) and tells me she is going to kill him.  I tell her I will provide the weapon.  I relay the message to Jared who quickly finishes his shower as he doesn’t want to get caught covered in soap and no way to rinse it off.

While my parents do take showers, if you live with Jake, showers should take 2 minutes or less.  We explain that it takes us at least 3 or more minutes to shampoo and rinse our hair.  He says it doesn’t take him that long.  Of course not, he’s practically bald! 

I would love to talk to my grandparents to find out if Jake practiced military maneuvers in the front yard while he was growing up.

I’m just sayin’,

Life with Jake….You’re Letting the Cold Air Out!

I recently decided to write a few blogs about Jake, my dad.  The stories are unusual (or not) and sometimes, mildly entertaining, at least to our family members.  We don’t always call him by his name, we do call him Dad.  But when we want to make a point about his behavior, we call him Jake.

In my previous post I explained how fanatical my dad is about swapping air of varying temperatures, specifically the mixing of outdoor air with indoor air.  I made reference to his comment about letting the cold air inside the house escape when we opened the door.

I feel at this point I must define “cold air” in my parents’ house. “Cold air” in their house is relative.  The analogy I like to use here is similar to one of my favorite lines in the movie “A Christmas Story”.  Ralphie was narrating the scene where his dad was changing a flat tire.  He stated that his dad’s idea of a tire was "one that was round and had previously been made of rubber".  I laugh heartily every time I hear that line, but I digress.  So, keeping that in mind, we can move back to the cold air in my parents’ house.  Cold air in their house means the air inside the house is slightly cooler than the air outside the house by let’s say, 5 degrees.  My dad has become very cold natured as he has aged; therefore, he keeps the temperature in the house warm, even in the summer.  Jake’s all year round sleep attire usually includes a scarf, toboggan and earmuffs. To those of us who are no longer cold natured (due to an ugly phase of life called men-o-pause), it is extremely warm in the house.

As we prepared for bed on the first night of our recent visit, Jake stated he was going to turn the air down, which means he was going to allow it to get colder in the house.  I was excited!  It meant that I didn’t have to strip to the bare minimum in order to sleep that night.  To be polite, I stated that it was unnecessary.  Jake’s rebuff, “I’ll turn it down to 80 at least”.  At that point, I fainted and remember little else until I awoke later in the night.  It was hot; I was hot.  Actually, I was melting.  I opened my bedroom door, located the thermostat in the hallway and moved the lever lower down the line….to an icy 77 degrees.

The next morning, my dad emerges from his bedroom dressed for a visit to Santa at the North Pole.  We looked at him as though he had corn growing from his ears. He looked ridiculous dressed that way in the middle of summer, when the temperatures are soaring to the 100 degree mark on a daily basis.  He stated he was freezing and wanted to know who turned down the thermostat.  Fearful of swift retribution, everyone quickly stated that it was not them.  I knew I had to confess and suffer the consequences of violating the house rule of never touching Jake’s thermostat.  I raised a sweaty palm and told him I had moved the thermostat.  I received the outdoor/indoor - cooling/heating lecture and watched as he inched the thermostat dangerously close to 85 degrees. 

Tonight, I will sleep in the company of the 7 fans I purchased at Wal-Mart; he will sleep in his earmuffs, and all will be right with the world!

I’m just sayin’,

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Cha Cha......

Well, just like you can no longer get a "hickie from Kenickie", you won't be able to do the Hand Jive along side the best dancer (with the worst reputation) from St. Bernadette's.  Cha Cha (Annette Charles), from one of the best movies EVER -  Grease, recently died due to complications from cancer.  Seems all of our best-loved and worst-hated characters are moving on from Rydell High!

"But you will always have the glorious memories of Rydell High.  Rydell forever.  Bon voyage."

I'm just sayin',

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Life with Jake....

My dad's name is Jake.  He is Italian.  He likes perfect world order and is so tight with money, pennies scream in anguish.  

I haven't lived with my parents since I was 18 years old, yet I remember it vividly, the way all kids remember their childhood. I remember my dad being very strict and money conscious (which translates to tight-wad or thrifty - depending on your point of view and terminology).   Since my move to Texas, I've been traveling back and forth between Alabama and Texas quite a bit, which warrants frequent stays with my parents.

When I was a child, we were not allowed to paint our room a color.  To Jake, white was a color and was the only color necessary on walls. We lived in something similar to a cave.  On the outside, it resembled a house, but inside it was always dark.  Drapes covered our windows.  You know, the ones that look like curtains but are lined with some cancer-causing agent that blocks light?  We were never allowed to leave them open to allow light into the house.  If we opened them during the winter, we were releasing heat into the outdoors.  If we opened them in the summer, we were cooling everything from our front porch to the first layer of ozone.  He was the same way with the doors -- we weren't allowed to open them.  You had to remain ultra-thin in our house so you could slink through the cracks in the door rather than open it for coming and going.  Every time it was opened or closed, it cost him money.  He took it as a personal affront to his wallet.  (Side note:  My dad was the youngest of six kids, all born during the depression.  I am going to blame his money issues on the fact that his family suffered through that nasty part of history and not the fact that he was an auditor.)

I had hoped that in my dad's "older age" he had mellowed somewhat.  I was wrong.  As my son and I opened the door to enter his house, he yelled out from the den "close the door, you are letting the cold air out"!!!  I guess some things never change!

I'm just sayin',