Tag Archives: Work

Growing Up, Pt. 2

[Part one is here.]

I may have started out as a wee fellow, but as the years went by, I moved on up the food chain. I became a pre-teen, then a teen. I got things like insecurity, hormones and a driver’s license. Let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves, though.

I had a paper route that defined much of my after-school experience for a couple years. Those were the years when my dad sat at home every day with a few beers, waiting for me to return with the collection money. Wait- sorry, that’s the plan I have for my boys. Only with them I think I’m going to go for modelling. They’re really quite striking lads.

The whole thing could take me up to a couple of hours. I got to know a lot of my neighbors this way, and really enjoyed doing so. People seem to like their newspaper carrier- or at least, they seemed to like me. I think one of the reasons for that was my passivity when it came to collections. Every week, on Friday, I collected mandatory delivery fees. Only with me, they were more like subjective delivery fees: subjective as to how much I was actually paid, and subjective as to whether they ever got paid at all.

Let me just add one more thing: my daily round was extra special because I had a big old crush on one of my customers. Well, I guess it’d be more accurate to call her the daughter of one of my customers- the real customer, her dad, I was vaguely terrified of. These things go hand in hand.

Whenever I came by her house, I would look up to see if she was in her window. Sometimes she was, and she would wave at me. That turned me into a little puddle of Dan every time. I felt as though all the inky fingers and unpaid fees in the world were worth it for that wave. Occasionally she even talked to me. To what extent I sounded like a bumbling idiot in my responses, we will not go into detail. One February I even snuck a valentine into her paper, hoping she would find it. I expect she did. In any case, a friend of hers emailed me soon afterwards and I denied everything.

In that line of thought, I once got a call from a girl who I went to class with in grade five or six. As I recall, she had with her another girl from my class- and naturally, this other girl was the one who I had a crush on. Girls know these things, I don’t know how. I guess it may have been the way I blushed like crazy every time she looked in my direction.

The conversation went something like this:

“Hi, Daniel, It’s Sam!”

“Hi, Sam.”

Pause.

“So, Jenny’s here with me…”

“Oh! That’s neat.” Dan’s mind becomes more frozen than ever as he contemplates the reality of being one person and a telephone away from Jenny.

“What are you doing?”

“I’m just… watching Alice in Wonderland. It’s on TV.” A this point the conversation becomes a little strained.

“Cool… are you watching it with anybody?” Because that’s what girls like to know. Naturally.

“Yeah, my… mom.” There sure are a lot of ellipses in this conversation, aren’t there?

“Uh, cool. Well, did you want to talk to Jenny?”

“Looks like the commercials are almost over. I’d better get back to the movie.”

“Oh… alright. Well, have fun watching the movie!”

“Thanks! Bye!” And in desperation, I hang up the phone.

Boy, were those some stellar years for dealing with the fairer sex. I would say that they were, in fact, more than fair with me, considering the way I dealt with them. Which is to say, not at all well.

I was a big league babysitter not too long after the paper route days, too. All around the neighborhood, I was the go-to guy for childcare, at least until my sister came onto the scene. The bitterness I held in my heart over her usurpation lasted for years. Maybe I exaggerate. In any case, these were golden days for me. I’ve always loved being with kids. It probably says something or other about my undeveloped personality, but it does remain true. It’s stood me in good stead in recent years.

I babysat, more than anyone, the two little gals who lived in the same house as Rupert. For several years they were the darlings of my heart, although I certainly didn’t have the words to say so. We horsed around playing Pokemon, or watched movies, or went to the park. I believe I had as good a time as they did. And there were several other families who meant a lot to me as well, as well as a few who terrified me.

Through all this babysitting stuff I feel as though I was able to share the sweetness of childhood that much longer. My peers were one thing, and I had my share of older folks at church, but my affection always lay most strongly with the small ones in my life.

I guess it all makes sense. Through many of my years as a young adult, I struggled to part ways from my inner child. I felt, in some respects, as though I were doing a rotten job of growing up. I looked at my friends and I thought, “Man, they’re so much more mature than me.” Maybe they were. But it was in finally embracing that child within that I found my feet- both in the ability to decide what I wanted, and in acting upon it. Instead of languishing in self-consciousness and indecisive thought, I learned to disconnect from my over-analytical mind when it came time to act and interact. Not that we- my child and I- don’t still get separated sometimes.

You know, I’m still growing up- but it’s a lot easier to chuckle about old foolishness than to look in the mirror and let out a belly laugh. So wait a few years, and I’ll tell you about all the ridiculous things I’ve done lately. Until then, do continue to take me seriously.

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The Man in My Life

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I was going to get into some book stuff for today’s post. I was going to tell you just how I felt about Robertson Davies and C. G. Jung, but I think what I’ve gone with- something a little closer to home- is exactly what you need for a chuckle and a tender moment. I’ll come back to the literary boys sometime in the future.

Let me tell you about my dad. His name is William Andrew Cecil Parrington, a hoighty toighty name if there ever was one. He likes Bill better, for its brevity and clarity. I got the William for my middle name. Sometimes I call him Willy; I think he hates me a little when I do that.

Some people think Dad isn’t a social guy. What they don’t realise is that he’s actually a big sweetie with a heart of gold, tucked away in a somewhat cynical set of armor. Dad cares very much about the people who share his life, and has always worked very hard to take care of them. I am a case in point. Through all the trouble I gave him as a teen, he remained the same- ready to receive me back and teach me what he knew of life. I’m a tough guy to teach anything to, as I prefer the firsthand experience to the helping hand. I guess he figured since he was my dad, he could be the exception to the rule. I’m not saying he was right about that, but I’ve come to appreciate the sentiment.

Dad worked his way up from the factory floor to senior financial admnistration over the course of his married life. He was a strikebreaker in his twenties, but has taken the opposite view in his steadily mellowing age. I know he only did it because he wanted to take care of his family, though, and did the most immediately logical thing.

Sometimes I know we all thought Dad worked too much- was away from us too much. Maybe he was. But again, I know why he did it the way he did- and he still does. I still benefit today from the guidance he provides from his wide range of experience, and from the financial support he provides my own family when times turn hard. Maybe I would have benefitted from a little more face time with my dad, growing up. I still think he pulled off his juggling act with pretty fine flying colors.

Dad has worked at two chocolate factories, and two major producers of cosmetics. As a result, we of his clan are all well fed and beautiful. Those of you who went to school with me might remember when I started up my own business selling reject chocolate from the factory at a major discount! I still long, sometimes, for the days of five bucks for a pound of chocolate, courtesy of Dan and his dad.

What does Bill do other than work, then? Although not a reader like his eldest son, Dad likes to read history and what I would describe as trivia: regional accounts, meanings of place names, family histories. He actually wrote a family history himself many years past, something that remains a typewritten artifact in the home filing cabinet. He managed my sister’s hockey team for a while when she was into that.

Dad is also an avid music fan. Rumor has it that he had and played an electric guitar when he and Mom got married, but she broke it over his head during a heated discussion. It’s possible I exaggerate. He did play the guitar, though, and does play the piano like a champ. He played at our wedding ceremony, remember? I told him what I wanted played literally a day before the ceremony, and he adapted not only one but five or six rock songs for the purpose! Aura’s processional music, by the way, was Dad’s keyboard rendition of Lou Reed’s cover of This Magic Moment. If that wasn’t a tricky ball to hit out of the park, I’m none wiser.

I myself am culpable for what could have been a serious injury to my Dad when I was younger. He was working on the garden hose setup in the backyard one day when it came about that he was in need of his Big Heavy Wrench. Seeking assistance from his responsible eldest, Dad asked me to fetch said wrench. I did, but I was in a hurry to get on with it and do whatever it was I was doing. Quickly analysing the situation, I ascertained that the shortest path between the wrench and my father was through the air. So through the air it went, and as he turned to look at me- a smile full of hapless innocence on his face- it struck him right between the eyes. How he survived, I don’t know. I saw him a couple nights ago, though, and he looks alright.

I think you can tell how much I like this man. Yeah, he’s got a warped sense of humor, but I laugh at his jokes. You have to remember I nearly killed him. You know what the worst thing my dad ever said was? It was “Tronk”. No one has ever even said that word before, not before my dad. But one day when he was fixing my sister’s bed, it fell on his leg and boy, did he let out a “Tronk”. I don’t use that sort of language myself, you understand, but I forgive it in a stand up guy like him.

Enough about my old man. You’ll hear about him now and then, naturally, so it seemed fair to write him up for you. I hope you all get to meet him- and maybe get to know him- sometime in your life. I’ve had a while to check it out, and you know what? It’s totally worth it.


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