Tuesday, July 05, 2016

COLUMN: Kitchen Boob

I've said this before, but it bears repeating: My dad is a superstar.

I like to think that I'm good for a lot of things, but common sense has never been one of them. When it comes to basic life skills, I'm still in a growth phase. Truth be told, it really IS a wonder I can dress myself without assistance (and based on the horribly mismatched ensemble I'm wearing today, that might not be a true statement.)

I may be 45, but I'm clearly not an adult. I can't swim. I can't snap my fingers. I can't keep my shoes tied without double knots. I have no earthly idea how to change a tire. There are implements in my kitchen that I can't identify. I've never operated a lawn mower in my life. The last time I tried taking my trash to the curb, I broke my ankle. (A mystery neighbor has been doing it for me ever since, and I have NO idea who. I'm just grateful.)

Thankfully, I also have an amazing dad that I can lean on for help in those areas where I'm somewhat... responsibility-challenged. And I know what you're going to say, so don't. "If your dad's so amazing, why didn't he teach you all these basic life skills, Shane?" It wasn't for lack of trying, trust me. He tried until he was blue in the face, but stupid stubborn prepubescent me wasn't having any of it. I remember nights when my dad would take me to his workshop and try to show me how to build stuff. I'd just stand there exasperated and complaining until I could return to whatever video game was calling my name. The only way I would have learned life skills back then was if Nintendo had released Super Mario Tire Change.

My dad retired at the same time I bought my house, and thus far it's been a great partnership: he's pretty much good at everything and I'm pretty much good for nothing. The guy loves a project, and my life is one huge project. When lightning struck the tree in my front yard, it was my dad who made the fifty mile trek up here with a chainsaw. When a bat got into my house, it was my dad who drove up with a net while my mom and I cowered by the door. He's finished my basement, poured me a driveway, and single-handedly made my house a home. And nowadays, when he shows me stuff, I actually pay attention.

But last week, I may have set a new record in human ineptitude, and once again, it was dad to the rescue. That's right, I made my 70-year-old father drive fifty miles... to change a lightbulb.

Okay, there's a little more to it than that. I love everything about my house, but with one glaring exception: the two light fixtures in my kitchen that hailed straight from Uglytown USA. As God is my witness, they look like... breasts, and dingy outdated breasts at that. For the past three years, I've called them my kitchen boobs, and I've complained about them to anyone who would listen. That anyone was my dad.

"Hey, Ace," the phone call started. "I'm standing in Menard's and they have a sale on light fixtures. I found a couple that could work in your kitchen. Want me to pick them up?"

Yes, yes, a million times, yes! ANYTHING would be better than the kitchen boobs, and it was high time for a double mastectomy. Two days later, I was greeted by two new non-descript light fixtures that blessedly don't resemble any naked body parts. There's just one thing dad didn't tell me -- the new lights are LED.

My house now provides a valuable community service to the entire Quad Cities. The next time it's a foggy night and an incoming plane has trouble finding the airport, no worries -- the light emanating from my kitchen can now easily guide them home. Sure, I may need sunglasses now to make it to the refrigerator, but it's reassuring to know that my kitchen can be seen from space. Once again, it's proof of the greatness of my father. But hey, it's not as if a week prior, paramedics were racing him unconscious to the hospital or anything. Except that they were.

"I don't want you to worry," the call from my mom began, which is always the cue to start worrying, "but your dad's in an ambulance and we're on our way to the hospital." I was already reaching for my shoes. Apparently, the two of them had gone out for dinner (I won't say where,) and everything was fine until later that night, when dad got up, went to the bathroom, and said to my mom, "I think I'm going to..." and before he could get out the word "faint," he took a header right off the toilet and passed out cold.

It was a sobering call to get, which was super fun considering I wasn't especially sober at the time. Remember two weeks ago when I didn't have a column because I was "on vacation"? I lied. Truth be told, I was home sick with an absolute beast of a cold, but I figured "on vacation" sounded better than "is a human phlegm factory." I had JUST taken enough cold meds to down a small mammal and was halfway to la-la-land when mom called.

I can now safely (or, more accurately, UN-safely) attest that Nyquil is NOT the coughing-aching-stuffy-head-fever-so-you-can-get-up-at-1-am-and-drive-to-Galesburg medicine. "Don't operate heavy machinery," but this was an emergency, and I suppose in the grand scheme of things, my Hyundai is fairly lightweight. So yes, I did a really bad thing and half-drove/half-floated to Galesburg in the darkest middle of the night. DON'T try this at home, kids. But I didn't care. This was my dad, my hero, my superstar -- and my only lucid thought was that I needed to get to him.

The good news was that St. Mary's Hospital in Galesburg was in no short supply of surgical masks, which I gladly agreed to wear when they saw me bust into their ER like an oozing refugee from Planet Ebola. The BETTER news was that dad was simply suffering from acute food poisoning and would be fine, despite his telling every nurse within earshot that he was "worth more dead than alive." It was a bad couple of days, but thankfully it was just a couple days.

A few days later, he was fine. If you don't believe me, just look out your window and check out the unholy glow coming from my kitchen. Still, that was way too scary for my tastes. My dad NEVER gets sick, and I prefer he continue that trend. I've got him living to be at least 120 years of age. I need a superstar around to light up my life -- sometimes literally.

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