We’re walking the dogs.
I’m wearing three or four layers of clothing, including the only Dallas Cowboys sweatshirt in New Zealand, and my summer straw fedora, because I don’t have a winter hat.
Eli is wearing a T-shirt and shorts, which is OK, because he is 22 and bulletproof, and his legs are only slightly harrier than a gorilla.
I whine about being cold. He looks at me and laughs.
“Dad, you look so round and fluffy and cute. I just want to squeeze you.”
It is a chuckle of endearment. Like I used to chuckle at Mom, as she sat around her outdoor fire, wearing her bright orange thermal moonsuit, listening to her grown-up chillens rag each other and mock their “cute and whiffy” mother.
I’m freezing. I want a new polar fleece jacket before winter hits. But Kathmandu’s sale, the one that runs about 364 days a year, is not on today. Oh, poo. So I go outside in search of Eli, the wife and the Crack Puppy, who are supposed to be waiting on the bench.
No wife. The shopping tractor beam already got her. Eli is barely able to hand the Crack Puppy to me before it pulls him into a coffee shop. He hasn’t eaten in minutes and is weak.
So it’s just the middle-age round man, his hat and the fuzzy dog waiting on the bench. Passersby are thinking: “Obviously, he must be gay. Look at the designer dog. And the hat, for goodness sakes.”
At least that’s what I tell Eli. He thinks this is hysterical: “Dad, you do look sooooo cuuuuute.”
It’s about 11 p.m. Friday. The parental units are running on empty, waiting for junior to come home for the weekend, regaling them with the week’s activities at college.
Tonight he’s been all studly macho, rock-climbing with friends. He’s vibrant with the health and energy of youth.
He laughs at his parents, all bundled up against the winter cold, sitting around the kitchen table, feeding people snacks to the Crack Puppy … and denying it.
He doesn’t say anything, but he is thinking: “My little old squishy parents – soooooo cute.”
I gaze at pictures on my window sill and ponder the passage of time.
There is Eli, at age 4, wearing soapy “shampoo horns” and a big grin. That photo is his first shave. That’s his first CD Introspect, written, performed, recorded and marketed by my thriving man cub.
And on my desk is the card he made for me after I left the rat race. Finally. To write.
The card’s cover words are from Oliver Wendell Holmes: “The great thing in this world is not so much where you stand, as in what direction you are moving.”
Inside, Eli has hand-drawn a picture of a balding round man, wearing blue jeans and his favorite orange shirt, carrying a heavy, green backpack. He’s climbing a mountain, nearing the summit, where there is a beautiful home. The sign says: “Moore Studios.”
You can peek into the many windows. On the top floor, a Chinese woman is making dresses in her studio. Downstairs a musician, head down in concentration, is playing his grand piano. Upstairs is the round man’s office, where he writes.