Sunday, November 6, 2011

Swimming Upstream

Yesterday began robustly enough in the fresh morning air with a sunny bike ride along a nearby country road. This ebullience was however to be a short-lived element of the day.

After our customary ablutions we trekked into the City on a mission to find a tailor to fix the tattered buttonholes of an old handmade sweater of mine. While parked outside the mall, and while I was fussing over my new iPhone 4S, a car pulled up directly beside mine. This instantly bothered me because I deliberately park as far away from other cars as possible; and there were ample vacant parking spots all around me. It further incensed me that this fellow felt the need to park immediately adjacent my car as my driver’s side door was open wide while I pored over the iPhone. The elderly fellow (who I could tell instantly was a nosy Parker) then unloaded himself from his vehicle and proceeded to plant himself like an inspecting policeman directly in front of my car where he pronounced “Nice car!” It was a gratuitous comment as far as I was concerned. His fat wife then likewise removed herself from their car. Apparently imaging that I had not heard her husband’s observation, she repeated it, adding that the car was a nice colour. When I failed to respond to either of them, although they knew I was aware of their presence because I glanced askance at them, the unattractive woman retreated and transformed their former compliments into something less flattering by muttering that “the car is nice but the driver is not Mr. Personality” or something to that effect.

We eventually pushed off from this resort (where, by the way, we had been unsuccessful in finding a tailor, at least one who felt competent to do anything other than pin the hems of trousers) and headed for my parents’ house. I increasingly feel the need to visit them regularly in view of their advanced age. Upon arrival there my father was as usual seated in the car in the driveway though this time he was in the passenger seat without the radio turned on. I knew from having called ahead a moment earlier that they had just returned from some shopping outing (which I later learned was to Holt Renfrew where my mother had gone in search of some expensive make-up). I tried to have a conversation with my 93-year old father, but ended by having to repeat everything in an increasingly louder voice so I could be understood, and even after he knew what I had said, he still related that he didn’t know about whom I was talking (my former Assistant). I accept that dialogue with a person who is going deaf is not easy, but it nonetheless makes for stilted communication. Not feeling motivated or enthused by our progress, I decided to remove myself from the driveway and went into the house to see my mother.

Inside, my mother was puttering in the kitchen (she later complained about my father bringing stuff from the garage into “her” kitchen, stuff which my mother said she was determined to throw out, an admonition which subsequently my father dejectedly suggested included himself). Not surprisingly the first topic to arise was “What are we going to do for your birthday?” an annual refrain along the same lines as “What are we going to do for Thanksgiving (or Christmas or Easter)?” Still angry about the people in the parking lot, I rebuffed that I didn’t want to do anything for my birthday (a retort which I recognized as uncomfortably similar to something my father would say when anyone tries to do anything nice for him). I guess I was adamant because my mother temporarily dropped the issue (although of course she revived it later, and I finally caved in upon recollecting that the event was not for my benefit but hers). By this time, my father, anxious for the news of the day, had succeeded in prying himself from the car in the driveway and with the assistance of a cane was making his way haltingly into the kitchen where he at last seated himself in his customary chair and initiated his standard condemnations about the lack of seating, the preposterous kitchen table and life in general. He later added that he wanted people to do that which they were capable of doing, which for him did not include having to career his way up a flight of stairs at Les Fougères for lunch to celebrate my birthday. My mother naturally dismissed the objection. The rambling discussion was interspersed with an examination of a collection of old radios and an ancient cassette tape recorder which my father had accumulated under the kitchen counter.

When my mother exclaimed that she hadn’t had anything to eat yet, we took the hint and removed ourselves. I consider it thankful progress that my mother now expresses her personal wishes with something approaching clarity. Besides it was almost one o’clock and we too hadn’t had our lunch.

After a hamburger at a local pop stand we picked up a shopping cart at one of the larger grocery stores and proceeded to rack up another three hundred dollar expense. Our drive home into the brilliant sunshine was soporific. As a result I determined to resurrect the cushions from the basement and prolong myself on the chaise longue on the back deck, which I did until the sun disappeared behind the trees.

The remainder of the day was spent unexceptionally. Our dinner was left-overs complemented by fruit and cheese on some excellent Scottish biscuits. Afterwards instead of amusing myself with some re-runs on the television, I continued to examine my new iPhone device in concert with the User Guide. Not surprisingly I discovered several features which advanced by knowledge of it. On Sunday afternoon I plan to attend a hands-on course at the Apple store in the City. I suspect that attendance will exhaust my interest in enlarging my skill with this hand-held computer, the utility of which is for me confined to the mobile phone, syncing with the car phone, perhaps email, and maybe the occasional Note or Reminder. Apart from that (and the thrill of being able to dictate emails) there isn’t much advantage I expect to derive from the iPhone in spite of the advertising promotions to the contrary. I will at least be able to say that I am trying to remain au courant.

No comments:

Post a Comment