I didn’t go home last Christmas. Stayed here by myself. First time I’d ever done that. That’s crazy, I know, but true. As a mea culpa, I promised to visit in January in Florida.
I didn’t. Some work obligations came up. I rescheduled. I rescheduled again. The more I rescheduled, the more days I kept adding to the trip. “I can’t come now,” I’d say. Then I’d use my game show host voice to say the rest: “But I can come in X months. And when I do come in X months, I’ll stay for X amount of days. Also, YOU’VE WON A BRAND NEW 2016 FORD FIESTA CONVERTIBLE.”
In the end, after months of delays and promises, I agreed to a grand total of 12 days with my parents at the end of July. Which, for a middle aged man like me, is a completely absurd amount of time to spend with one’s parents.
I stayed with them in their RV on the eastern shore of Oneida Lake. The weather was absurdly nice that week—not too humid. A steady breeze blew off the lake and rattled the nearby trees. I wore camp shorts. Took the kayak out a couple times.
One afternoon I had a conversation with my father. He’s 72. Into self-preservation. His get-well tip for the summer: If anyone had trouble sleeping, my father would instruct them to eat 10 walnuts and drink 6-ounces of cherry juice just before going to bed. “Trust me, you’ll sleep like a baby,” he’d say.
I heard him share this advice with at least four other campers. Three of the four campers rolled their eyes at him as he told them this.
I was hoping to use our conversation as a pitch to a media outlet. The way my father positions himself as the informal medicine man in his community is strange and interesting to me.
But our conversation took some darker, more opinionated turns that disqualified it from pitch material.
He’s moody, like lots of fathers. He thinks he’s always right. You’ll hear all of that.
My father and I both looked out over the lake as we talked….
[Also: Special thanks to Steven Nikolic. He mixed the audio and wrote most of the the music.]