My dad came for a visit. He’s the most vivacious eighty-something you’ll meet.
He does tai chi in the morning, in the forest behind the house. Then after a breakfast of nearly black coffee, fruit and toasted rice cakes (often burnt, by mistake), he walks to the beach and back through town, a round trip of more than an hour, nearly two.
When he gets back, he takes a break to read the newspaper, check his emails and then sits down with a book. He’s reading “The Iliad” and something on the early years of the oil industry in Argentina.
He plays with the kids in the garden-cum-forest and the house, helps my son water the plants, getting wet and laughing in the process.
Later, he sits down to watch TV, to check out the latest in tennis. Now, here’s where things get troublesome. You see, my dad is known as El Jefe, or The Boss. His brothers and sisters have told me so. As the eldest, he ran the games, called the shots, orchestrated things.
So El Jefe sat down to watch a quarterfinal of the Masters Cup in Shanghai. The problem was that my three-year-old son was watching “Lazy Town.”
El Jefe got me (for all his vigor, he doesn’t know how to use DirecTV, except to turn the volume up to ear-shattering levels) to flick to ESPN. Well, my son screamed, shouted, stammered and turned red in the face.
“What’s the matter? Don’t you want to watch tennis?” El Jefe asked him.
“No!” my son said.
Outmatched, my son stormed out in a sulk and left with my wife to go to the doctors. He hates doctors – but apparently not more than tennis.
The next day, a repeat episode was unraveling. El Jefe wanted to check out the tennis again.
“No, Gran-Gran. My TV,” my son said.
He was watching “The Backyardigans.”
But El Jefe thought he’d have a look anyway. My son screamed, shouted, stammered and turned red in the face. And then screamed, shouted, stammered and turned red in the face. Well, his performance this time rattled El Jefe, who turned to me and said, “Let’s let him watch cartoons.”
El Jefe turned and went to the couch and “The Iliad,” and I thought, Wow, El Jefe may have met his match.