Back in July, I held my younger son’s birthday party at my dad’s house. I do it this way to make it easier on all of my sisters, brothers, and sister-in-law, who live in my hometown. We usually do the birthday parties on a Friday night at around 6 PM and serve pizza and cake, which gives all of the grownup attendees an excuse to not make dinner after a long work week, and all of the kids plenty of time to play, eat cake, and open presents.
Upon arrival, I only had time to place the pizzas on the long card table set up in the driveway when my dad accosted me.
“Shay,” he said, eyes sparking with excitement. “Come and look what I got you!”
I groaned. I knew he hadn’t “gotten” me anything.
Several years ago, his addiction to bratwursts led to a few minor health issues, and he started eating better and taking daily 2-mile walks. In the process, he picked up a new addiction (besides the healthy ones): Grabbing gross, useless shit that he finds on the ground during his walks and passing it off to his kids as “gifts.”
Since I complained the most loudly about it, I, of course, am the only one who continues to receive these gifts. (Once, in college, he gave me a crusty lanyard that he expected me to wear to work at my retail job. “Why would I want to wear a damned nametag around my neck?” I remember asking him. “Then people will know who to tell on on those days when I come into work drunk.”)
It’s a game to him; you’ve never seen a grown man giggle harder than when my dad hands me something like a dirty scrunchy from 1982 that he found on the side of the road.
This time, my dad dragged me to the kitchen, where he almost pissed his pants with laughter as he presented me with this:
“I found it on the ground by the bus stop,” he said proudly, shoving the apron toward me.
“NO!” I shouted, swiping it away. “I don’t want that lice-infested thing!”
My dad looked offended. “I washed it!” he insisted, still trying to shove the apron into my tightly-fisted hands. “In really hot water…” he finished, but his eyes got all shifty when he said that last bit, so I didn’t believe him.
“What the fck am I supposed to do with it?” I asked as I got into kickboxing defense stance (thank you, Billy Blanks and Jillian Michaels) and used jabs to continuously smack the apron away. When my dad smirked at my new tactic, I said, “I could do this all day, bitch.”
“I’m not sure what you want to do with it,” my dad said, “but it goes perfectly with the Denny’s mug I stole you last Easter. Maybe you could tie it on while drinking coffee?”
I rolled my eyes as I continued my jabs.
“Get a job at Denny’s?” my dad continued.
I punched at the apron again; he was seriously still trying to hand it to me around each jab.
“Use it for one of your and your husband’s sex games?”
“Alright, Dad, that’s ENOUGH!” I said. “What the fck is wrong with you?”
Changing tactics, I got out of fighting stance and looked Dad dead in the eye. “I’m not taking that thing home.”
My dad blanched when he realized he might be stuck with the apron. “Well, what the hell am I supposed to do with it?” he asked, suddenly horrified. “It probably has lice!”
“I don’t know,” I shrugged. “Maybe wear it for one of your and Mom’s sex games.”
Now it was my dad’s turn to level his gaze on me. “You know, Shay, you really ought to learn to accept gifts with more grace and dignity.”
I smirked. “You ought to learn how to give gifts with more grace and dignity! You know what? My cat’s gifts are better—I’d rather wake up to a dead bird with bloody, matted feathers on my front porch than that stupid apron any day!”
My dad had the nerve to look hurt. He even managed to squeeze up a few tears in his eyes. “You know that when cats—and fathers—give you gifts like that, it means we love you, right?”
“Shut up,” I said.
The apron incident was all but forgotten as we spent the next couple of hours singing Happy Birthday and eating pizza and cake. But then, when I got home that night, I opened my purse to grab my phone and—lo and behold—what did I see?
That godforsaken apron, all folded nicely and tucked between my wallet and the side of the purse.
I couldn’t help but post the picture and story on Facebook after I found the apron, and one of my cousins commented, “Check the pockets for cash!”
“From a Denny’s worker at a bus stop?” I asked back.
Listen peeps, I wasn’t judging. I worked at Wal-Mart for several years and the only reason I didn’t take a bus there was because I couldn’t afford that luxury. So whoever it was that left the apron is doing better than I was back then. And anyway, there were obviously much brighter things in his/her future as evidenced in the hasty way that apron was ripped off and discarded at the bus stop.
It wasn’t lost on me that the apron situation was all my own fault. Back then, I carried a huge-ass purse so that I would have room for sippies, baby wipes (at that point, my kids hadn’t been in diapers for a while, but I swear I will never leave home without a pack of those multipurpose things again), extra underwear in case of toddler accidents, snacks and small toys for my kids, and a book for me.
(I will also never leave home without a book—and doesn’t just saying that make me sound so smart? But seriously, I love me a women’s fiction novel with awesome character development…and statements such as that are why my older, illiterate sister shouts “NERD!” every time I walk into a room.)
But back to the subject at hand. I will finish by saying mark my words—the next time I go purse shopping, I will be getting a small handbag just to take to my dad’s house so that I’ll be able to more easily notice things like apron bulges before leaving.
Old man and his apron: 1Me: 0
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