Thursday, September 28, 2006

My dad's birthday was yesterday (in the States; it was two days ago on Chinese time), and he turned 82! (I can hear the collective gasp, "82?! Christ that's old!" And as my dad would, and did, say, "Christ, that IS old!"

My dad's an interesting cat, and he runs with an interesting crowd. Most of his friends are dirty, old men. Brilliant, dirty, old men, but dirty, old men, nonetheless. One of my dad's oldest and greatest friends is a guy called Sandy Singleton (really, that's his name). I have known Sandy since I can remember, and he's known Dad longer than I have, by a lot. Sandy also has a daughter who is either two weeks older, or younger than me (I can't remember).

Sandy has always been a controversial figure in my family. My mother hates him with a venomous pith, and for a very long time, he was banned from the house. When he would call, just looking for Dad, my mother would hang up on him. I am not sure about all the details that explain my mother's reaction to this guy--I can only assume that a good number of them lie within her own unreasonableness and extremist behavior--but I can tell you this: My mother and Sandy have a hell of a lot in common. Both are impulsive and self-righteous, and both are aggressive self-promoters. They are both sharp as tacks, but both also suffer from a similar physiological ailment: The wire that connects the brain to the mouth and prevents people from saying inappropriate things at inappropriate times has been irrevocably severed.

My mother has been known to comment on how ugly someone's baby is, within earshot of the parents, and she has never been shy about expressing her great disdain for Mormons. Sandy, likewise, finds intolerance for certain sections of humanity. Fat people, for instance, especially suffer under his scrutiny. (Sandy believes that all fat people should be rounded up and sent to labor camps until they work off their excess adipose and have body shapes more to his liking.) My mother's name for Sandy during my growing up years, was "Monkey" or "Swingleton", and Sandy found such choice ways to describe my mother, beyond the most obvious "Dragon Lady", as "Maoist nazi."

Since my parents divorced, Sandy has reentered my father's life and, indirectly mine. Having already found great patience for my own mother's strange behavior, I find Sandy to be generally interesting, if not at least, amusing. Sandy is actually quite a brilliant guy with a very active mind, and imagination. While I was last living in Hawaii, he would buy the New York Times Sunday edition every week, as well as the Economist, and then he would pass them both to Dad and me, for a read. And despite everything, Sandy has been an excellent friend to my dad. When Dad had his stroke and broke his hip, Sandy helped him get around Honolulu, in the hospitals and airports. And, to this day, he is one of the few to brutally remind my father that he shouldn't eat shit like danish donuts, and that despite his predicament, he should make some attempt at exercise.

So the other day, I got an e-mail from Sandy, a rare occurrence, indeed. This is what it was:

I asked this learned type lady I met at Starbucks if she thought all the world's problems were caused by ignorance and apathy.

She told me that not only did she not know, but that she didn't give a shit.

I told Cannon. He could not stop laughing. He called two days later and said he keeps thinking about it and can't stop chortling, or something akin to laughing, again.

(I think the actual actual answer was: I don't know, and I don't care. I like to add my street wit to things.)

In any event, this is the first time I have ever come up w/ something to tell Cannon he did not already know. It has made my year... Ah, such simple things can bring such inner peace...

I told Dad that Sandy e-mailed me this, and he was amused. At his age, Pop should know that it's the simple stuff that keeps you going.

Here's a picture of the old man. It was taken on the last trip to Hawaii, but I doctored it up to look artsy and pretentious. Once Dad writes the book of his life, we will use for the jacket cover.


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