Grouch of the Day

The last couple of weeks I been noticing my Dad has become more and more combative with everyone around him & he appears to be in a continually foul mood.

The last time he was like this was just after he retired, around ten years ago.  He equated retirement to death and felt that he no longer had any value as an individual if he wasn't working.  It took Mom a couple of months to help him adjust to his retirement and after that he seemed to be fine.  She really showed great patience and reserve during that time since my Dad can beat the best of times, someone that can be definitely described as difficult.

I had no intention of broaching this subject with my father, as I know from years of experience that even the slightest question can cause his wrath to be turned upon anyone.  I am curious person but not a masochist.  I definitely don't need him going after me any more than he already does.

So this past Thursday night I was planning on going down to the pub to meet up with John and Kevin, when my Sister called and asked if I could pick her up from our parents place and drop her off home, since she was over there visiting and her husband Doug was working overtime.

I really don't like to make a habit of helping out my sister too often however, being that I was going out and therefore in a relatively cheery mood, I agreed only since her place is on the way to the pub.

I arrived at my folks place around 8 PM and as I walked in the front door, I could hear them all in the kitchen talking.  I was really hoping Sis was ready to go so I didn't have to sit around and hear Dad bickering about undoubtedly some inconsequential matter.

Mom and Sis were just washing up the dishes after dinner and Dad was sitting at the kitchen table reading his newspaper.  The atmosphere appeared to be quite peaceful, at least on the surface anyway.

"So," Dad began talking to my sister.  "Did you ever find a painter to paint the outside of your house yet or are you still looking for one?  There seems to be a few ads for painters in today's paper I see."

"Actually Dad,"  Sis responded.  "We found one on Monday and he is starting the job tomorrow.  Pretty good price too.  A company by the name of O'Reilly & Son."

"O'Reilley you say!" Dad spat.  "Damn Irishman!  Take my word for it, you better hide all the booze or he will never finish painting."

Before I go on here I should give you a little background and tell you that my father is from Aberdeen in Scotland and Mom is from London.  She is part English and part Irish.

Usually when Dad makes any kind of inflammatory statement as he just did today, his sole motivation is to aggravate my Mother.  Being that my grandfather on my mothers side was from Dublin, Ireland, Dad obviously said it on her behalf, only to rile her.  It worked.

"Simon"  Mom snapped back.  "You do recall that my father was half Irish, don't you?"

Without missing a beat, Dad narrowed his eyes and staring directly at Mom replied "Looking back as I recall it, he was usually also half drunk most of the time too."

Well once again the fighting was on.  Dad's remarks clearly upset Mom and she yelled back "How can you dare talk about my dear father in such a manner." and with that she stomped angrily out of the kitchen.

The effect on Dad was somewhat bizarre as he sat there with a faint smile on his face, staring at the door.  I got the feeling that this drama had played itself out a few times before as Dad was waiting for Mom to continue this insane fight.  He was correct.

Mom returned still looking quite enraged and just replied "Coming from an old Scotsman, isn't that a little like the Pot calling the kettle black ?"

This time it was Dads turn to become incensed as both my sister and myself continued to observe in stunned silence.

"Be quiet woman"  Dad snarled in response.   "I'll not sit here idle and let you defame my beloved Aberdeen.  Calling us all boozers is a bold faced lie and you know it.  Of course it is quite true about Glasgow, I'll not disagree with you on that point.  Bunch of moroculous swine, that lot!"

That last somewhat humorous comment of Dad's seemed to be the signal that the fight was now over as he generally only uses slang words to show Mom that he is simply joking about something.

Mom's mood lightened immediately, albeit briefly as Dad suddenly and for no apparent reason, started in all over again.

"Hey kids,"  Dad called out.  "Did I ever tell you two how I saved your old grandfathers life.  It was before your mother and I were married, and I had just dropped her off at her house.  Anyway, her father was passed out drunk in the middle of the street and I swerved my car so not to run him over.  Saved the old mans life I did that night."  

Dad then began to laugh hysterically at his own little joke.  Both Sis and myself really didn't know how to respond, if at all.  I then glanced over at Mom and she once again looked furious.

"Simon," Mom retorted sharply.   "I won't have you sitting there telling lies to the children about their dear departed grandfather, it's not's wickedness."

"Ahhh" Dad moaned, good-naturedly. "Just havin a bit of fun with the kids, dear.  No harm meant."

With that he got up, shoved the paper under his arm and wandered out of the room still chuckling to himself.

"Old Grouch"  Mom called after him laughing.

I really couldn't wait to get out of there that night.  I have to admit it was a little uncomfortable seeing my parents argue over absolutely nothing.  I am not sure how often this kind of bickering goes on between Mom and Dad lately, but it does really seem that Dad is continually instigating these situations.

As I was driving my sister home, I figured I would question her further on the matter.

"So Sis," I asked.  "What's up with Dad these days?  The guy is verbally attacking everyone around him for no apparent reason.  Its brutal.  It's like an asylum over there."

"Oh, you didn't know?"  she responded smiling.  "Mom put Dad on a diet about eight days ago and he has been grouchy and miserable like this ever since."

"That's all it takes, a stupid diet?"  I replied, still somewhat confused.  "Damn.  And they say kids are hard to manage."

"Mom also hid all the liquor in the house too.  "Sis continued.  She figured it best to keep temptation out of reach."

"My God, that inhumane."  I responded horrified by the very thought of the action.

"That's exactly what Dad said when he found out what she did."  Sis replied chuckling.   "You know that you are sounding more like him every day.  They say that as we get older that our personalities become more & more like our parents."

"Yeah, I've heard the same thing.  I don't think I believe it though"  I responded.  

Sis replied "Well if it is true, I have no problem with that.  Mom is the kindest & gentlest person in the world."

I thought about this theory for a moment before responding, but there was definitely no avoiding the obvious.

"Well if it is true"  I replied dejectedly  "I'm really screwed."

Sis seemed to take great joy in this as she appeared to find my comment uncomfortably more funny than it actually was.

It was lucky I was headed down to the pub later on because I suddenly found myself needing a drink quite badly.


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