As I mentioned in my last post, Tender, Loving, Care, I was once referred to as an OLD COW. This is that story...
My father was a long distance runner, completing over 100 marathons. He ran well into his 70's and when he could no longer run pain-free he opted for a hip replacement. Shortly after his recovery, he was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. Due to his Parkinson's, I watched him go from running, to walking, to shuffling knowing that, although emotionally and physically challenging, his slow decline was a chance for us to get to know each other better. As a self-made, successful businessman he had a fierce, independent spirit and was always on the go. And, because my parents divorced when I was only two years old, and my mother raised me, we missed sharing many of life's simple pleasures. One of them was watching a movie together at a theater. When I asked him what type of movie he would like to see he said, "A western would be good. Something with John Wayne," so I took him to see the epic, science fiction action film, Avatar. We went to a 3D, matinee showing in a neighboring city. My husband took my spacious, four-door sedan on a weekend excursion and I was left with his Mini-Cooper clown car. I knew getting Dad in and out of the Mini, and into the theater, was going to be challenging so we arrived early. The parking lot, harbored in the heart of the business district, was packed. A handicap sticker would have given us several options but despite his hunched back and wobbly gait, Dad was convinced his condition didn't warrant one. After circling the lot several times, I saw a space close to the main entrance of the theater. When I noticed a car heading towards the same spot, from the opposite direction, I stepped on the gas. Thanks to the compact size of the Mini, I quickly jockeyed my way into the space.
"How about that!" I said to Dad, feeling quite proud of myself.
As I carefully assisted my father out of the car, a girl in her early twenty's approached us. I recognized her as the driver of the car that I had outmaneuvered for the parking space.
She was dressed in a fresh, neon green Nike shirt, matching shorts and electric white sneakers. Her long dark hair was pulled into a tight, stiff, ponytail at the crown of her head and her lacquered nails matched her candy-apple red lipstick.
"What the FUCK!" she screamed within an inch of my face.
In self-defense, I released the two-handed grip I had on my father and, in slow motion, he rolled backwards into the car.
His eyes widened with fear while he stammered, "Don't hit her Shannon!"
As a young man my father was scrappy and mischievous, and as a parent he was astutely aware that the apple didn't fall far from the tree.
He was right of course, I was angry, but with my father as my witness my plan was to assault her with wit and charm, not brawn.
"You're fit and young," I told her, "You don't need this parking space. Besides, the further you park from the gym the better workout you'll get."
Annoyed she yelled, "Shut up you old cow!" and stomped away.
I didn't see it coming. I expected "bitch" or "asshole" but not Old Cow.
Her comment hit a major artery—embarrassment and rage oozed from my veins.
I did my best to compose myself while we wearily made our way into the theater.
Old Cow echoed in my head as I eased my father into his seat before heading to the concession stand to get him a large buttered popcorn, a super sized pack of Twizzlers, and MilkDuds. Food, especially candy, had become a major source of joy to him and it was a bargaining chip in our movie excursion.
"Oh boy!" he said when I approached him with my arms full of treats.
Just as the movie was about to start, I handed him a pair of beefy, black plastic, 3D glasses.
"What are these?" he asked.
"They're glasses that make the images on the screen POP," I explained.
"Can I keep them?" he asked.
"No," I said.
As the theater lights darkened and the sound erupted, Dad leaned towards me and whispered, "Will you steal them for me?"
"No Dad, I will not. Did you forget we run a security company? How bad would it look if we were busted for stealing property that didn’t belong to us?” I scolded him.
"Well then," he proclaimed, "I’ll steal them."
He looked adorable in his glasses and I was pleasantly surprised to see how focused he was on the movie.
In contrast, I was consumed with worry.
What if she scratches the car or slashes our tires? And why would she call me an old cow? My father's the old cow, not me.
We waited until the crowd dispersed before making our way past the well placed, overflowing bin of returned glasses. Dad "hid" his tightly in his right hand and held onto me loosely with his left.
"We did it," he said as we exited the theater. "We pulled a fast one!"
When we arrived at the car, I was relieved to discover that it was unharmed.
As we pulled out of the parking lot Dad put his 3D glasses back on and flashed me a Cheshire cat grin.
He had a lot to say on our ride home. It was as if his 3D glasses gave him superhuman powers. "Slow down Shannon, you're driving too fast. That's an unmarked police car following us. Look out for that cat!"
I knew I was driving well under the speed limit. I knew that the 1997 Buick "tailing us" was NOT a police car. And I knew that a clown crossing the road was more probable than a cat. But most important, I knew not to argue with Dad when he needed to be right.
"Did you like the movie?" I asked.
"It was okay," he answered.
"Weren't the visual effects fabulous?"
"Sure," he said.
"What an adventure,”
"Yep," he replied non-enthusiastically.
"They say it cost over 230 million to make," I declared.
"Ridiculous," stated Dad.
When my kids were young, in an effort to get them to elaborate about their day, I would ask them to tell me their favorite part.
"So Dad, what was your favorite part?" I asked.
Without missing a beat, he smiled wide and chuckled, "When that girl called you an Old Cow."
What a memory Dad gave me. I laugh every time I think of it. I laugh at the sight of cows. Sometimes I laugh as I pour milk into my morning coffee.