I was honestly quite happy the job ended and I could now return home and see my family, who I surprisingly missed quite a bit. (yep, even my old Dad!) I vowed to myself that this time I would be a more tolerant person with my family and try and stay out of any petty arguments that I always had seemed to be drawn into in the past. This was to be a fresh start for me. Things would change and change for the better.
After finally getting through stupid Canadian customs, I headed into the arrivals area and immediately saw Dad pacing back and forth. He actually looked in really good shape for an old guy in his mid-seventies, much better than I recalled, and he greeted me warmly as I approached him.
"Let me carry that bag for you, boy" Dad declared, as he quickly grabbed my large, heavy suitcase from my hand before I could protest.
"Are you sure you are ok with it Dad. It's not too heavy for you, is it?" I responded, being the good & concerned son that I am.
"HA,HA" he cackled back at me. "I'm in a might better shape than you are, boy. Looks like you gained a few kilos around that gut of yours since I saw you last."
Being the new, mature and calm person that I now am, I ignored his little jab and instead attempted to compliment him.
"Well Dad, it really does look like you are in pretty good shape these days yourself." I simply responded.
"Pretty good shape?" Dad questioned, suddenly stopping and putting down the suitcase in the middle of the arrivals area. "I have been on a strict exercise regime and in the best shape of my life. Look at my stomach, flat as a washboard."
I really could not say if his stomach was as he claimed, being that he had both a shirt and windbreaker jacket on over it. I thought it be best to just agree with him as it really did not require any further discussion in my mind.
"C'mon, punch me - right in the stomach" Dad ordered. "You will find it is as tight as a drum - I'm all muscle these days."
"Ahh, no Dad. I am not going to punch you" I responded, somewhat surprised at his insane request. "I'm sure it is all muscle."
"Don't patronize me, boy." Dad shot back. "Give me your best shot, I won't even flinch, that is guaranteed."
"Please Dad" I pleaded, hoping just to get to the car without incident. "I am exhausted from my long flight and really want to get home and see Mom and just relax."
"Don't be a pansy, boy." Dads' goading continued. "We aren't going anywhere until you give me your best shot, as weak as that probably will be."
This ridiculous conversation went back and forth for a couple more minutes and had I been really thinking clearly, I should have just walked away. But I didn't.
Maybe it was the exhaustion from a long flight, Maybe the fact I had a few cocktails during the flight or maybe even the fact I could not take Dad's chiding any further. I finally did exactly what he had been demanding - I gave him a short swift and somewhat weak shot. I punched him.
Well, as things usually do for me lately, this went bad....quite bad, actually - Instead of Dad just taking my punch and then openly mocking me, he unexpectantly doubled over, gasping horribly for breath.
"Dad, Dad" I yelled "Are you ok, I'm so sorry!"
As he was slowly regaining his composure I heard someone suddenly yell quite loudly "Look over there. That guy is beating up some poor old man."
As I turned around to see what they were all talking about, I immediately realized that I was the one they were all pointing & gesturing at.
An angry crowd quickly began to congregate and I heard comments like "He tried to rob that old guy" and "Be careful he may have a knife" or the best one of "He was on my flight and looked like he was going to steal my laptop."
Two concerned citizens (aka 'nosey bastards') rushed in between me and Dad just as thankfully two police officers quickly arrived on the scene. I say thankfully as I am sure this misbegotten
crowd would have beaten me to a pulp as their foolish mass hysteria slowly had set in.
Dad, who was now beginning to feel his old miserable self, quickly explained everything to the officers with the unnecessary closing line of "my boy was just being a wee over zealous, is all it was. I'll straighten him out when we get home."
The two police officers (as well as the angry mob) finally dispersed and as I looked over at Dad, he just glared angrily back at me.
"You damn fool, I wasn't ready. You're just Bloody lucky I am in good shape or the cops would have hauled you off to jail for assault." Dad spat. "Punching a man when he
is not ready. It's disgraceful."
"But Dad" I responded quickly. "You insisted I hit you and I didn't think you weren't ready for it."
"Exactly" Dad responded angrily "You didn't think. That has always been your problem. You could have killed me, punching me like that when I wasn't prepared. That is
exactly how Houdini died you know."
"What?" I answered, a little confused at Dads reference. "Ralph Houdeny, your old dentist is dead?"
"Harry Houdini, the magician, you damn fool" Dad seethed. "Why the hell are you talking about my dentist at a time like this?"
I could see this whole conversation was clearly degenerating fast. I decided to just shut up and take the abuse Dad continued to pile mercilessly upon me.
We finally arrived at the car and I quickly and silently threw my bags in the trunk. As I slammed down the trunk, Dad walked over and slapped me on the back warmly.
"Glad your home son, safe and sound." He said quietly. "Your mother will finally stop worrying."
"Now get in the car, you big damn fool" He yelled, muttering under his breath "Hitting a poor man when he's not ready, Bloody disgraceful...."
I guess some things don't change. I knew I was home.