My Dad, Bob, has been visiting me since September 11th and I'll be sad when he leaves tomorrow. He lives in his motorhome, spends half the year in Seattle (April-September) with his wife and the other half in Mississippi, with my brother's family and he visits me here in Denver on his way back and forth. Bob is a true wanderer - he hands out business cards that say "Hobo, Inc." and when he calls me, my cell phone plays Roger Miller singing "King of the Road." Our relationship has always been more like buddies than father-daughter, except that I like to wait on him hand and foot. We have so many similarities - it's kind of eerie. Even our cowboy boots tend to match - see above.
We both have a sweet tooth, relate to animals, speak our minds (causing some discomfort to those around us) and are both infinitely curious. We also both have a tendency to let our lust get us in trouble. (His is, once again, safely married while I keep mine locked up these days until my 'picker' gets fixed.)
He usually comes over every day around 4 p.m. and sits contentedly on the porch, smoking his 'cee-gar' while reading thrift store action-adventure novels and drinking his famous Whiskey Dews (Canadian Mist whisky and Mountain Dew). Sometimes he doesn't bring anything to read but is happy to puff away and contemplate. Lately, I've been playing his old LPs on my ancient phonograph and he's been gleefully reliving the past via Bob Newhart or The Lads.
I'd forgotten about his tendency to smoke the stub of his cigar using his pocket knife, a habit I find endlessly charming. Why burn your fingers on that last yummy bit when there's no need? For reasons I cannot state publicly here, I can totally relate.
I took him to a party last night - a housewarming for Rosie & Kevin - and I think he made more friends than I did! He was shy about going, afraid he would be the old man in the corner but the party had every age group and he loved regaling my friend with embarrassing stories of my youth. Good times.
Then, we swung by the video store where I was reminded that my father's cinematic tastes have changed dramatically. Now, this was a man who took us all to the drive-in to see "Midway" - a film about a famous Naval battle starring Charlton Heston and a bunch of other manly types like James Coburn and Robert Mitchum. In fact, anything starring James Garner, Lee Marvin or Ernest Borgnine, you can bet the Clisby Clan was there.
Somewhere along the way, that all changed. He now adores Queen Latifah, Meg Ryan and Hugh Grant - gone are the testeroney types of the past. So, there we were at Blockbuster, where I tried to steer Dad towards "About Schmidt" due to his love of Jack Nicholson and the life similarities (insurance salesman retires, buys motorhome, etc.) but he begged - nay, PLEADED - with me to rent "Music & Lyrics" - a romantic comedy starring Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore, a film he has already seen 5 or 6 times: "OH, PLEEEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE!!!! I'LL EVEN PAY FOR IT!!!! C'MON, PLEEEEASE!!! I LOVE THIS MOVIE!!!!" People turned to look at us and suddenly, I felt like Bob was my 13-year-old gay son instead of the man who used to dismantle underwater mines for the Navy. I relented and he giggled all the way through the clever romantic bits. (Also, he had no idea about the 'Special Features' on a DVD so he got even more! Wheee!)
Today, we're off to the Denver Museum of Nature & Science where we check out some IMAX films and look at a bunch of cool old stuff. As final-night tradition holds, I will then take him out to dinner at The Fort, my favorite restaurant in Colorado, also serving as the HQ for the Tesoro Foundation, preserving history and culture of the Southwest.
The menu includes a bunch of items that people ate in the Old West, including Bison Tongue and Elk Chop. My favorite is the Trade Whiskey, a true cocktail from the past. I'll never forget my initial conversation with the waiter:
Me: "So, what exactly is in the Trade Whiskey?"
Waiter: "This is a real drink which dates back to the mid-1800s. It is high-grade whiskey flavored with red pepper, tobacco, and gunpowder."
Me: "Gunpowder?!?! Holy cow! Is that good for you?"
Waiter: "Oh no! No, not at all."
Me: "I'll take one!"
So, when I wake up tomorrow, Dad will be headed to Mississippi, Autumn will launched and I'll have some long, luxurious chest hair to explain.