How I Spent My Summer Vacation
It's a strange thing when you realize that your parents are getting older. Not just older, old. Plain old old, like the kind of old that you might one day give up your seat for on a bus or find shopping for white capri pants. My father is 63, which in and of itself is not that old, but seems ancient in comparison to his former life. About 6 months ago, he quit his life of climbing and cutting down trees to move to Florida where instead of spending his days operating cranes and nights in poolhalls, he now spends his energy being angry at valet parking services and taking off his clothes in public (there were a number of stories involving lines like "do you remember that time that you did karaoke without your pants on?" and "isn't driving the boat naked fun?"...AWKWARD!)
I was convinced that my dad wasn't really becoming an old guy, that he was just a dude who happened to live in a retirement community that happened to be located in the sunshine state all the way up until the day that I saw him talking to a Vietnam vet about getting his social security check all the while doing that thing old guys do in the pool where they just kind of walk against the water instead of actually swimming. Two years ago, I watched my father play 16 straight hours of blackjack while drinking straight whisky and to see him with his new potbelly, slowly trudging back and forth in waist-deep water while ranting about how "those IRS sons of bitches don't know a god damn thing" was almost too much to handle. (On a side note, other entities that "don't know a god damn thing" according to my father include ENT doctors, Puerto Ricans, and Pythagoras.)
Watching my father lay on the couch and talk about how much he loves little league baseball was like meeting someone totally different from the foul-mouthed, pool-husslin, liquor-drinkin, cigarette-smokin, tree-climbin, car-fixin, thick-skinned, wirey, calloused, badass, sometimes bareassed beast of a man I knew growing up. They say that age sweetens some and spoils others. In this case it's both.