Off The Wall: Quality Time with the Folks

Off The Wall:

Josh Johnson writes,

“Hey Mike – I love ya man. But really….put away the laptops at breakfast and spend some quality time with the folks that brought you into this world!”

Morning Josh – Excellent advice. Sadly, it’s easier offered than taken. You see, here at Rowe Central, quality time – though highly valued – is subordinate to routine and protocol. And woe unto he who screweth with either.

My dad for instance volunteers at the hospital Mondays and Fridays. He delivers Meals on Wheels every Tuesday. He appears regularly in local plays, naps every afternoon from 3:12 to 4:07, and walks three miles upon waking. Not 2.9. Not 3.1. Three. In the morning, he makes the bed, turns off the air-conditioning, and reads the local paper. Out loud. If you desire quality time with my Dad, it’s best to schedule it around these activities. Ideally, two weeks in advance.

Mom is more flexible overall, but not in the mornings. She starts everyday with herbal tea and her laptop. She writes. Sometimes a blog, sometimes a letter, sometimes an essay. If you want morning-time with my Mom, it’s best to break out your own computer and let her make you a cup of tea. Then, if you’re not too disruptive, you’ll be allowed to sit across from her, assuming you’re writing as well. Doesn’t matter what. Even a Facebook post will suffice.

I found this on my hard drive. A letter from my mother she wrote to me two years ago. It’s typical of her morning routine:

Good Morning Mike,

Living in San Francisco where it’s never winter, you’ve probably forgotten the thrill of spring. Well let me assure you – spring has come to Baltimore. This morning, just after breakfast, your father summoned me to the window. “Look at this!” he said.

Two sparrows were locked in mortal combat, rolling around the balcony floor, crashing into the railing, and stirring up dust.
“Awh….Do something John, before they kill each other!”

“They’re not fighting,” Dad said. They’re getting it on!”

At that point, the coupled birds lifted off as one and fluttered through the air.

“Well, it is spring,” I reminded Dad, as he locked me in an embrace and whispered in my ear, “What do you say, Babe? You have a half hour?”

In case you’re wondering, Mike, love is no less vibrant just because we’ve reached a “certain age.” It simply takes on a different hue.

“Alright,” I sighed, as Dad pulled a deck of cards from his back pocket and began dealing. “But only a couple of hands. I have a busy day.”

As you know, spring has always been my favorite season. Last spring, you’ll remember, we were in Florida. One morning we were having coffee on our veranda. Your father was reading the paper, (out loud,) and across the courtyard, I watched an older couple totter onto their patio. They sat facing each other. As the woman put her head back to enjoy the sun, her husband bent down, gently lifted her ankles, and for the next hour – clipped her toenails – pausing from time to time to enjoy a drink and brush clippings from his thighs. When he finished, his wife trimmed the hairs in his ears and nose.

“Awh, isn’t that sweet?” I said, taking Dad’s hand.

“Very sexy,” said Dad. “Like a couple of chimpanzees in a grooming-frenzy.” It occurs to me that your father may be watching too much Discovery Channel. As he backed up to the wall and scratched his itchy back, I was tempted to tell him how much he reminded me of my old horse but, why spoil the moment?

I love my family albums and pictures of Nana and Pop when they were young and vital. Growing up, they seemed ancient. No child wants to see their parents as sexual creatures, and I suppose you and your brothers are no different. You want to see us as cute and harmless, right? Well, think again. Remember that evening when you caught Dad and me hugging in the kitchen? You wrapped your arms around us, and lifted us off the floor saying, “You guys are so adorable!” It’s a good thing you didn’t see us later. In the boudoir.

“You have the stuff?” Dad asked me as I came to bed.

“Of course,” I said. “You do me first.”

“Uh-uh. You get too steamy. You do me first.”

“Alright, but you better hadn’t fall asleep.” I love to hear his groans of ecstasy as I work my magic.

Nothing relieves Dad’s itchy back like Cortisone Cream. And what he said about me is true. The Ben Gay on my shoulders and neck can produce too much heat if he’s not careful. He knows what I like.

Anyway, Happy Spring, Mike! Celebrate in a suitable manner. Take precautions. Love, Mom


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