So last Saturday I was just in the process of getting myself all clean & respectable looking prior to meeting the gang down at the pub for a night of good laughs, good drink and perhaps hoping even to meet a nice girl.
As I was just about to leave my telephone rang, the number on the display was my parents number. It was Mom.
"Hello Son, your Father and me would like to have a little chat with you. Can you come over tomorrow morning for breakfast"?
I immediately became apprehensive as anytime either my Mom or Dad invite me over for a breakfast they always have some sort of secret agenda involving unpleasant news to deliver. I think Mom believes that if a meal is served when bad news is given, the news is not too bad.
The last time they invited me for a breakfast, old Dad announced he was having heart surgery and the time before that was a few years earlier when they advised me that my sister was having a baby and any future inheritance had just been cut accordingly.
"Is everything OK", I asked, fishing for some sort of a hint or clue as to this unexpected ominous invite.
"Of course it is. Can't a mother invite her eldest son for a nice meal without it being a production" she replied.
Before I could remind her that I was in fact her only son, she quickly said "Well it's a date then, Dad and I will see you at 6:30 sharp", and rung off.
I had almost forgotten that my retired parents had some sort of bizarre ritual which undoubtedly dates back to the Second World War, involving meals being served promptly at 6:30 AM, 12 noon and 6:00 PM. If you were not at the table at these predefined regimented times, the meal would go ahead without you and you were left on your own to scavenge.
I had moved out so long ago I had forgotten (or more accurately blocked it from my mind) about this insanity or I would certainly not agree to being there (or anywhere else for that matter) at 6:30 AM on a Sunday morning after a full night of drink and carousing.
Saturday night proved to be less than satisfactory as I was so preoccupied with the next days meeting with my folks. My friend Kevin had introduced me to a very cute blonde that he use to work with but I was so distracted I forgot to even get her number. Even the booze tasted a bit off this night. I was clearly not myself and my sobriety did not sit well.
I arrived the following morning at my parents house around quarter past six, knowing an early arrival would impress the old man since he sort of had an idea that I was somewhat irresponsible, still being single and enjoying going out and all.
Dad opened the front door and ushered me in patting me on the back saying "Good to see you Son, the Old Girl is just making our breakfast now".
This unexpected warm reception immediately put me on my guard as first Dad rarely answers the door, never greets me this warmly and is usually absorbed in the newspaper sports section at this time of day ignoring all else. It seemed obvious to me the news that was to be delivered was that he must be dying.
I went into the kitchen and got the same unexpected warm reception from Mom, which really got me nervous...maybe they were both dying, or maybe I was… I was now getting very confused.
As Mom was about to serve breakfast, Dad insisted I sit in his chair for our meal "Please Son, this is really the most comfortable chair in the whole bloody house"
It was certainly the most "used" chair in the house as he was usually permanently glued to it however its level of comfort was debatable since no one is allowed to sit in it, until today. This whole thing was becoming way too weird for me.
Mom presented a huge serving of breakfast including eggs, sausage, toast, potatoes, various peeled and cut fruits, juice and tea. We all sat down to dig in although at this point in time I was too nervous to do anything but pick at my overflowing plate.
"Dig in, Son", Dad advised. "Don't be shy, we're all family here. Oh yes, your Mother has a little something she wants to speak with you about"
"Here we go", I thought to myself. "I bet I will be making funeral arrangements within the hour. I stared at Mom nervously".
Mom looked at me an then said, "Well Son, your Father and myself are not getting any younger and we got to thinking that we may not be around much longer"
I was still staring, frozen and unable to blink, as she continued.
"Anyway we both thought that we would both go home to the old country one last time before we die. Just to see everything and maybe try & enjoy ourselves one last time."
The old country was a reference to Scotland, specifically Aberdeen for my father and Mom was a London girl. Apparently they were attempting to tell me that they were going on some sort of a vacation.
"Bloody Hell", I blurted out. "Is that what all this is about, you people scared the !@!@&^*@ out of me. Is that all, a little vacation", I asked totally relieved at their statement.
"Don't be a smart ass, boy", my father advised sternly. "You're still not big enough or ugly enough for me not to knock a bit of sense and respect into you"
"Don't upset your father, Son", Mom explained in her usual calming voice. We brought you over to consult your opinion on the matter. If you don't want us to go, we won't. It will be for the entire month of May which is really quite a long time."
Almost laughing, I told them it was no problem with me, have a great time, Bon Voyage and all. I even offered to collect their mail while they were gone, I was that ecstatic.
Then Dad interjected with the deal breaker. "Well, that's the thing Son. We will need you to look after the house as well as old Charlie". There have been a number of break-ins in the neighbourhood this past year so we will need you to stay here. We couldn't enjoy our trip properly if the house were empty".
Charlie was their demonic dog who should have been put down at birth. Mom and Dad had lived with this mangy beast for nearly eight years and loved him dearly even though the thing was the meanest and nastiest animal I had ever encountered.
Actually I should clarify that. It apparently was the best pet ever and everyone (Man, child and other beasts) loved the thing except for me. For some unexplained reason this animal just hated my very existence. Every encounter I ever had with the thing ended miserably for me and I just hated him. Charlie was a dick.
I briefly thought about all the transgressions that Charlie had done to me over the past eight years which had led me to the conclusion he was the devil himself.
Aside from attempting to bite my sorry ass every time we encounter one another, as a pup he had chewed up my $150.00 Adidas. I overlooked this as Mom told me I should not have left my shoes where "Poor Charlie" could get at them.
Next, when I looked after him when my folks went out of town for their 50th anniversary the dog jumped up on the counter at my apartment and began eating the entire roast of beef I had cooked for myself and this extremely attractive girl who I had invited over to impress with my culinary skills. (had she not seem him do this I would have simply just washed off his offensive slobber, however she screamed "Eeewww" as she saw him devouring our dinner)
As a result I had to take the girl out for a proper fancy restaurant meal that cost almost $128.00 + tip and nothing came of it. The only thing that saw any action that night was my credit card balance. That was not good.
Or the day the beast defecated on my living room carpet during a time I had another date over. The result of that evening was the equivalent of taking a cold shower.
Everyone else found this animal to be friendly and playful. But I knew he was the devil. Yes, this dog was evil and wanted to screw me over at every opportunity. (this is quite unusual as I usually get along with all animals, but Mr. Dickhead was an exception)
"I'll drop over and check on the house but there is no way in Hell I am taking care of Charlie", I stated in a firm unwavering voice.
There was some uncomfortable silence for a minute until Mom advised that I just had to move into the house for the month as she would be too worried otherwise, Mrs. Bellington had observed "a lot of strangers" around the neighbourhood lately.
"Mrs. Bellington was the "old beetle" who lived across the street and unabashedly spied on everything & everyone within a 2 block radius. She was like a hundred years old when I was a kid so she must be at least around 200 now. She was the nosiest neighbour I have ever seen. If I did move in for a month, Mrs. Bellington would be giving a full detailed report to my parents as to who was here, when they arrived and when/if they left. Things were getting progressively worse by the minute.
Dad then interjected by asking me if I begrudged "Poor Mom taking a little pleasure of a holiday". Because if not, he continued, you will "look after Charlie and you will like it"
I realized this tag team had practised a lot prior to my arrival. There was little I could do to get out of this aside from disowning my parents. I reluctantly agreed to all the unpleasantness of moving in during the month of May, becoming a victim of Mrs. Bellington's reign of terror, guarding the house against unknown dangers from strangers, looking after the crazed Cujo and in general putting my now miserable life on hold.
"Your a good son", Dad said as he slapped me on the shoulder, knowing he had achieved his goal.
I looked over at the front landing just to see Charlie lifting his leg & peeing over my shoes.
May is going to be a long month.