I seriously considered not writing this post at all because you have to be growing weary of the “dad” stories, so I asked some of my regulars if they were getting tired of it. The responses I got were positive so I decided to go for it. My favorite response was from Tom (AKA: Zippy if you also read through the comments to my posts).
“That shit is like boobies and pussy. You never get tired of looking at it and you always want more!”
I never tire of his eloquence.
So off we go on another adventure with:
THE CRABBY OLD FART
It starts simply enough with my mom’s stove. It’s one of those fancy ceramic flat-top types, the ones that don’t have the coil burners or anything. It’s just a flat black top that magically glows little circles when you turn it on. Pretty damned cool if you ask me, but given a choice, I’d rather have a gas stove any day. I need to see shit burn! You don’t really have to teach your kids not to touch the stove that way either, you just need to run through the basics of fire. A child sees a glowing coil and thinks “Oooooh, pretty!” and he/she/it touches it and you’re a Social Services case. Show a child the ceremonial entrance to Hell is in your kitchen and they aren’t going near that shit.
So mom’s fancy stove has two of those burners on it that allow you to either just use the center of the burner eye for small sauce pans, etc, or you can flip a switch and the outer ring will heat up as well for larger pans, skillets and pots for boiling your boyfriend’s wife’s kid’s rabbit in. A nifty little feature that saves energy and keeps you from heating up the handle of smaller pans. As is the case in probably everyone’s home, there is always one burner that gets used more than any other. Whether or not the main cook in the house is right-handed or left-handed usually determines which burner that is. In mom’s case, it’s the one on the right and on her now 13 year old stove, the center eye quit working the other day.
This didn’t render the stove useless by any means as there are still 3 burners left and the oven still works like a champ, plus my mom is ridiculously clean and there is not a spot on it except for the damage simply being 13 years old can cause. Plus, the burner wasn’t completely out of service . . . the outer ring of the burner still worked fine. You just need to adjust your cooking methods a little. You either need to tolerate omelets that are completely raw in the middle, or cook your eggs in a bundt pan.
By the same token, you could also please any variation of the bacon fan by having your delicious pig strips both crispy on the ends and chewy in the middle. Everybody wins.
But no, this wasn’t happening because there was something in my father’s house that wasn’t perfect and we just can’t have that. We’ll ignore the fact that if mom didn’t tell him he’d never know because if you ever see him in front of the stove cooking, look around for the 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse. My father only cooks on the grill, and we try to avoid that as well, unless you like your food dead . . .twice. It’s as though slaughtering it for food wasn’t enough, it’s got to be burned at the stake as well.
I’ve always been really damn good at working with my hands. I fix stuff if there is any way possible. As a kid, I took stuff apart just to see how it worked and usually reassembled it with pretty good success. I ended up being a helicopter mechanic in the Marines, and I’ll be the first to tell you that the only thing keeping those things in the air is black-fucking-magic. It’s just a stove, so how hard can it be? So my dumb-ass said to dad,”Why don’t you just try to fix it first? You’re an electrical engineer, and bein’ that it’s all electrified and stuff . . . “, my voice trailed off as I realized what can of worms I just jammed the can opener into.
I was met with that “how can you be so fucking stupid” look that I’ve come to know so well, followed by the long sigh. Finally he grumbled out, “Ya’ know, some things just aren’t worth fixing.”
I’ve long since grown past the point that I take these responses personally, and have even started to sort of instigate them, because let’s face it, the man is feeding me material like it’s free. It also just gave me another great idea for a post *scribbles on scrap paper*, so we’re gonna call it “Translating Dadspeak: What he says vs. What he means”. So we have the first entry on the list:
- “Ya’ know, some things just aren’t worth fixing.” = “I don’t know how and I won’t admit it.”
I suggested that I would take a look at it and see if I could fix it, which was vehemently dismissed. It was right on the edge of rage. “Dammit, I just said, it’s not worth it!” Yes, 42 years later and he still talks to me like I’m 8. That’s ok, now I have entry number 2!
- “Dammit, I just said, it’s not worth it!” = “You’ll probably actually fix it and then I’ll look like an idiot, and that’s not happening!”
So then comes the logistics game. We gotta find a way to get rid of the stove, what are we going to have to pay Lowe’s to take the old one away, can I get somebody else to come and take it away, blah, blah, blah . . . I know how to play this game.
Me: “Sell it.”
Dad: “Nobody’s gonna buy that shit, it doesn’t work!”
Me: “It’s got a bad burner, it didn’t suddenly turn into a doorstop.”
Dad: “Well, that would take too long, it needs to be out of here so I can get the new one in here.”
Me: “I’ll handle it.”
Dad: “You ain’t gonna get nothin’ for it.”
Me: “I’ll handle it.”
Less than 24 hours later, I strutted with great satisfaction down to his cave and blasted in the door. I stepped in the door and said, “Put the stove in the garage, it’s getting picked up tomorrow.”
Dad: *look of doubt* “How much?”
He just stared at me and for a moment, his mouth fell open but nothing came out.
“So instead of you paying $20 to have Lowe’s take it away, I got someone to pay you $75 to let them come and get it.”, and I smiled in that smartass way that I do, and walked out.
“Stick that up your condescending ass!” I said out loud to myself as I stepped up the side of the house.
With that out of the way, let’s get to the delivery of the new stove. Dad carted mom off to Lowe’s to look for the new one. He takes her with him because it gives her the illusion that her opinion matters when picking such items out, because in the end, it’s going to be whatever stunt he manages to pull off with the salesman that is going to be the deciding factor. Several hours later they have a delivery set up for the next day, which disturbs me on a number of levels.
- He thinks delivery charges are bullshit and a waste of money. He went to Lowes IN HIS PICKUP TRUCK, yet still ends up paying the delivery charge because apparently he hasn’t had his recommended allotment of bitchfest today.
- The delivery charge also includes installation of the stove, which he isn’t going to allow them to do anyway because they will “probably fuck something up”.
- Please, God, tell me my real father was actually the mailman.
As predicted, the stove arrives the next day and the service of installation is refused. Why? Because he can do it.
And I can help him.
Shitballs on unbuttered toast, I can’t wait.
So he straps on his trusty, crusty, sweat stained, crappy green hat and gets down to business. He first has to prep the kitchen. Apparently this requires removing the chunk of cabinet and countertop that goes on the left side of the stove, because moving the kitchen table would have been too much of a pain in the balls. Tape measures are taping and cordless drills are drilling and the safety retainer is painstakingly screwed to the floor in exactly the right spot.
Because there have been so many incidents of the stove leaping from its berth to ambush the refrigerator and we just can’t have that. Again.
My mother stands nearby, watching quietly, because she’s seen this before and knows anything added to the scene is just going to make it uglier. So as we bring the new stove in and set it close to the (now 6 foot hole) spot it goes in. I casually observe to my mom that it doesn’t have the “warming area” in the middle that the old one had. I should have kept my mouth shut, because then I just ended up pissed off, so I’m gonna take a short entertainment break and speak my pissed off beef. . .
She got kind of this hurt look in her eyes and she said “Yeah, I know. I liked it but I didn’t really use it all that much and the one that had that was another $130.” To the untrained ear, that was just my mom being practical, but to my far too trained ear I knew that isn’t what she thought at all. What she said to me was EXACTLY what my father said to her as they stood in the store looking at it. That pissed me off to no end! My father knew what she wanted and manipulated it to fit his own bullshit ideas and goddammit, I MADE him $75 on this deal and he could have afforded the damn $130 even if I didn’t. Let’s forget for a second that she’s my mother and you just pissed me off, consider that she’s your wife and if she wants something and you can do it, BY GOD YOU FUCKING DO IT! She puts her ass in front of that stove to cook for your ass every day, you get her the one that’s got a fucking Lazy-Boy attached to it if that’s what she wants or you be prepared to eat with a plastic spoon from a cold-ass can for the rest of your life! Fucker.
The installation continues as the cord from the old stove needs to be transferred to the new one. “I don’t understand why it doesn’t come with a cord.”, mom says. I explain to her that different houses built in different years were built in different codes and there are a small handful of 4 or 5 different plug types that were used, so to avoid limiting what house can have what stove, you just get the cord you need to match your house and put it on your new stove.
Of course dad pipes up from behind the stove as though I’ve said nothing, “It’s just another way they have of screwing you out of more money!”
I look at mom with that OMG wide-eyed look and say, “Or there’s that.” Dad is fabulous at bringing conversations to an abrupt halt that way. The entire room collectively says, “I give the fuck up.”
The cord finally attached (which took a whole lot more time than it should have, so I don’t even want to know what it looks like back there), I help him slide the stove into place. Amidst shouts of “Watch the floor, don’t scratch it!” and “Don’t push on it there, you’ll BREAK it!”, it finally makes the foot and a half trip to the wall. The only thing left to do is level it.
Now, I probably could have mentioned earlier that I have had a job that required me to deliver appliances, including I don’t even know how many stoves. It pretty much makes everything I’ve tried to help him do that much more insulting, doesn’t it? So, this is just me and all, but I would just line up the stove with the edge of the counter and screw the feet down so it sits straight.
Of course, I would probably still have a counter on both sides of the fucking stove.
No, he broke out the trusty LEVEL! I tried to get him to use the one on my iPhone. He didn’t think that was funny, but then he doesn’t think anything is funny. So trip number 14 down to the shed to grab the level, because apparently he brings tools up one at a time. And we leveled that sonofabitch. Ball bearings will sit still on that thing. Finally, it was done. I programmed the clock on it real fast while dad was still lying on the floor, or that was going to take 2 hours while dad went down and studied the manual to find out how. My contribution to this effort done, I bailed. I wasn’t hanging out to put the cabinet back. That wasn’t my bright idea.
So, to say thanks for her new stove that wasn’t exactly what she wanted and in appreciation for the efforts that we went through installing the stove (that took 10 times longer than had we actually let the guys from Lowes do it, but then, what about the poor ball bearings?), mom took care of us for dinner.
She took us to Taco Bell.