Sunday, March 26, 2006

My wife's view

I haven't been up to speed for the last two days so here is what my wife wrote about Saturday. Always good to get a second opinion.

Saturday, March 26, 2006 - entry by Cherie. Bob’s wife.
The day started off relaxing with Bob, talking about the farm, and having a light breakfast because Fred was treating us and Barb to lunch at Red Lobster. Bob had to fill up the car and ended up going over to the east side (across the river), where gas is almost always cheaper. When he returned we piled Fred into the car and put his packages for Barb in the trunk - they could’ve been in the back seat, but Fred at 87 years old has been pre-conditioned for years - I guess you could consider it doing things by habit. He’s practically blind, and doesn’t hear well, which makes for loud conversations.

He worked hard at making small talk on the way over, which wasn’t too bad - Fred does try in social situations to be just that - sociable. He had been adamant that this outing to Red Lobster be a surprise for Barb - her birthday is this week and Fred usually takes her out for her birthday. It was also a trip to the cell phone store or something like that because Barbs phone had stopped working despite a new charger, new battery and who knows what else. She had a slight heart attack a few days ago and had spent the previous day at St. Ann’s Hospital getting tests and x-rays. The phone is her lifeline to Fred and he panics when he can’t get in contact with her.

We got to Barbs, and honked the horn to get her out and moving. She came out the door all the while talking to Basil, who is back living with her (I met him once-blouucghk). She hides him from Fred who doesn’t believe Bob who told him that he came back. Barb has a lifestyle that does not dictate that she always look acceptable when parading around in the general public. Today was one of those days. She came out to the car, jacket open in the wind, which revealed a clean pair of jeans and a snug thermal shirt and I could immediately tell she did not have on a necessary undergarment - namely, a bra. I couldn't warn her about what would transpire because the lunch was to be a surprise. I felt already embarrassed for her.

We started out and the conversation became both lively and confusing. Barb wanted to go a certain phone place and Fred wanted to go to the Pager place. Bob didn’t remember where either place was although he’d been to both places with the two of them. I started to zombie out - it was the safest thing to do because I had no idea where we were going. When we finally got there, I discovered a Goodwill store next to the Pager place (Fred won), so I opted to go over there while the rest of the team went to teach the employees at the Pager place what customer service is all about. I looked around for a few minutes and not seeing anything that grabbed my attention, I decided to join the others and attempt being a team player.

Turns out Barb’s phone was dead and Fred was sure it was because she dropped it. They were wrapping up the sale for a new one and Fred was paying for it and complaining about the fees, charges and taxes that automatically come with a new phone and calling contract. Fred is a bit of a tight-wad and complains about everything costing money - if they ever taxed people for farting in public, Fred would be in serious trouble. And broke. There is continuous discussion about the cost of the phone as we leave the store and pile back in the car.

Now we are headed down Monroe St. in search of the Red Lobster. Bob didn’t know where it was and to try and throw Barb off track, which is pretty easy, Bob said something about going to Rally's for burgers. She picked up on that quick and pulled some Rally’s coupons out of her purse and gave them to Fred, who was confused about the Rally’s thing, but didn’t want to let on about the Red Lobster. Fred kept telling Bob it was on the left side (across 5 lanes of traffic), and I actually saw the sign and kept saying “Honey, it’s on the right - do you see the sign we’re almost there.” Barb was watching all her favorite cheap places pass by - “There goes Rally’s, there goes Coney Island Hotdogs, there goes.....”. Bob finally saw the sign just in time to turn in and Barb was pleasantly surprised and a little dismayed. She looked at me and said" If I had known I would have dressed better.” So much for surprises. I again felt bad for her - as if I had let someone down in the great sisterhood of life.

We went in and were given a small booth, but opted for a larger table to make it easier for Fred. It was also better, because Fred couldn’t see the menu and had both Bob and Barb telling him what was on it, which was loud because Fred can’t hear. We finally decided on our orders and I have to give our waitress a lot of credit - she was very patient and tried hard to make sure we were taken care of correctly, getting extra rolls, salad dressing, etc. Barb was very happy with it, which made an awkward situation enjoyable. She insists on referring to Fred as “Freddie”, which for some reason drives me nuts.

We are all very careful about what we order because we know that although Fred really does want to treat us to a nice lunch, he is also a very real tight-wad. This is especially evident when the check comes and it’s for almost $40.00, which for 4 adult people is not too bad. Fred gets out exact change for the meal and Bob mentions adding a tip and Fred starts digging around with his change. Bob tells him it should be about $5.00 and Fred gets all big-eyed like it was the worst news he’d heard that day. Bob quickly assures him that he’ll take care of the tip but Fred is already complaining about it until Barb gets through to him and he relaxes, knowing he’s not out an extra five bucks.

We take Barb home and the discussion resumes about the charger for the old phone that Fred had bought for her. She had given it back to him and wanted to go to the Phone store at Spring Meadows Plaza, which is on the way home. Fred didn’t remember which part of the Plaza it was in, Bob couldn’t remember, and once again, I was clueless. After driving through the whole place, we found it. Fred got the receipt out of his pocket and Bob offered to try and return it for him. Fred and I stayed in the car and he told me that it was “hell getting old”. We talked about it for a couple minutes - don’t remember what I said. I tried to cheer him up by reminding him about the great lunch we had and how happy it made Barb. When we finally get home and after thanking Fred for about the 5th or 6th time, I realize that I’m tired. It took a whole three hours out of my day, but I feel wiped out, and Bob just smiled and said ”Welcome to my world.” I honestly don’t know how he does it sometimes.

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