Fathers and Sons


From time to time I felt his presence next to me while I was driving. This was the first time dad made it to the house. I glanced up from the monitor, looked at the smoke curling up from the ashtray. I smoke cigarettes. But the odor of HIS cheroot was noticeable. He was here.
“Well, you see he is sorta spinning his wheels…you going to help em out? You know I would have talked with you, if you would have asked.”
“Yeah, dad, I know…..” Damn, am I talking to a ghost? Or having a 47 year old rerun, mentally clomping around in his shoes, now, like I physically did back then. Hell, in either case, my feet were/are far too small.
“Guess all I can do is try, and hope he takes it on board. Not ’cause I’m his dad, but because there are a few more rings around my waistline.”
“He’s my grandson.”
I mentally glanced at my pater-muse. He appeared to be quite comfortable in a corner of my cobwebbed filled noggin. Staking a claim to a somewhat dusty, overstuffed chair. My Id’s scotch and humidor of cigars found their way chairside, as well. Dad continued:
“He has a good enough head on his shoulders, I think he’ll pick up on what really matters.” (Can you sense a slight smile, from just beyond the veil? Or a twinkle, in the eye of a phantom?)
“Look, I know from his writing, and from when we talk, he is getting frustrated at what he thinks he sees in the potential dating pool he has been swimming in.”
“How’s that again?”
“Dad, he finds most of the women he meets to be shallow. Or they do not come even close to sharing enough of the same ideas or ideals for anything to develop. At least no further than a short term or casual relationship.”
“He is looking beyond just the bars and the frat houses?”
Now, I smiled. “Yeah, he is. I don’t think he wants to get married tomorrow, but I do think he is looking for someone to develop a long term relationship with.”
“Has he tried meeting with people who share in his interests, hobbies, even political groups or clubs?”
“I don’t know if he really has or not, dad. I will ask about that the next time we talk. He is up in Minnesota and the college environment and surrounding area are …well…”
“Son, Look, I know where he is going to school. And I know what the social and political environment is like up there. I tend to get around a bit easier now, one of the perks on this side of the fence. What he needs to understand is in one respect things are not much different then they were when I was his age.”
“You both have to realize what now is considered moderate or even to some conservative, was in some ways, rather risque at one time. For example, some of the acceptable attire worn to work by woman today, would have gotten you fired when I was his age.”
“The language used by many of either sex would have only been spoken by …well, to be honest, by any number of men in any number of situations. But hardly, if ever, in mixed company, and never by a woman with any sort of manners. Women never asked a man out. It was thought of as being too forward. So much so, we had a special day for that kind of thing. It was called Sadie Hawkins Day. It started out as a joke. A funny page put-on in the late 30’s, the idea caught fire. But for the most part, men were expected to do the asking out…”
“Ah, dad, aren’t we getting a tad off the subject? Your grandson doesn’t care about what the rules were like back then, he is concerned about now.”
At that moment, I felt what could only be described as *brain freeze*. This, due to dad grabbing an ice cube from his glass and tossing it square between my optic nerves. I instantly had an even greater respect of father specter figures…and the prowess of their metaphysical throwing arm.
“You’re missing the point son! Just as your boy has got his standards, and you and your brother had yours, My generation did too. And we all looked for our ideals in the woman we wanted to seriously start a relationship with. Many from my generation (and yours too by the way), made the mistake of thinking there were two kinds of girls. Good girls, the ones you wanted to marry. And Bad girls, the ones you wanted to take out ‘for a good time’. You come to find out, over time, there are just good and bad people. So if our boy goes out on a date. Hopefully there is some common ground somewhere. He finds out the more they talk and get to know each other, perhaps this young lady is worth a second date and then a third, and so on. If he finds she really is interested in getting to know him better (and if they are on the second or third date, that should be obvious one way or another). I would hope he has enough respect for himself and whomever he is out on a date with to not be too foolish….”
“Ah dad, from what he has told me, there are any number of girls out there who start to wonder if you really are interested in them, or gay, if you don’t try to put any moves on them by at least the third date.”
“Damn it son, that is what I am talking about!! That is part and parcel what is wrong today. Now, that gal is not a ‘bad girl’ but she is seriously mistaken if she thinks hopping right in the sack, is the same thing as love. Or commitment for that matter. Hells bells! That kind of thinking is what gets those same gals messing around with the poolboy by the time they are 30. Meanwhile, their husband is having an affair with his secretary. Ya got to be hitting, together, on the majority of the other cylinders. Cause if all the relationship is really built on, is how hot you are for each other….well that ain’t gonna last CONSISTENTLY forever. There will be times when you can’t get enough of each other. There will be other times when keeping things civil between the two of you will seem like one of the labors of Hercules. But the bedroom in and of itself, is not going to support a marriage.”
“He is better off not getting involved with them…and it sounds like he sees that kind of behavior for what it is….being shallow.”
“When I was his age, and I damn well know now, when YOU were his age, most of our thinking was done with the little head. That is just the way it goes. That your son has gone beyond that, and realizes there is so much more needed for a chance at a successful (long term) relationship, makes me proud to be his grandpa.”
“Tell him to be patient. To be sure of himself and of what is of value to him. A woman can sense if a guy is either wishy-washy in his character…or just floating along, not caring about anything of importance. The good ones out there want a MAN for a serious relationship, especially if they are looking for husband material. Forget about all this women’s lib crap. They are just blowing smoke. They may say they want a ‘sensitive’ fella, like what they see on tv or the movies. But in real life, whether they realize it or not, they want a fella who is going to take care of them. Someone who is going to put food on the table, a roof over their heads, and money in the bank.”
“Now that doesn’t mean you have to do the ‘Me Tarzan, You Jane’ thing. I learned almost too late, you need to talk WITH your wife. Communication counts for more than you will know. Once the lines are down, if they stay that way for too long…well the bedroom will grow mighty cold and she is bound to find another cave whose fire she thinks will warm her. And as you know, divorce lawyers are a dime a dozen.”
At this point dad paused, took a swig of his scotch, pointed the business end of his cheroot toward my optic nerves, and said:
“And YOU would do well to take that advice onboard as well! I know you are doing a hell of a lot better then you have in the past. Lord knows that is one area where I should have been a better example to you kids. But can’t do much to change that now. Hopefully my grandson will take that lesson onboard much sooner then either of us.”
Dad paused, took a sip of his Scottish ambrosia, and a pull from his stogie. He gave me a look, and if such a thing was possible for a ghostly visage, chuckled to himself.
“Well, I see by the way your lids are drooping you have either had a bit too much rum with that coke…or you need to get some rest. In either case, I need to head back upstairs for a bit.”
The man who wrestled with all the concerns of raising a family as best he knew how, who showed me the right way to toss a baseball, and roll a strike, started to fade from the chair. The glass of scotch and cigar did as well.
“Dad….I..”
“I love you too son. I’ll be back soon enough…we have to give those boys the straight skinny…Lord knows the way the world is today…it’s the least a grandfather can do.”

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