The Father’s Sole Son

In “Anecdotal Tales”, stories will be told. Some will be fun, some will not. Some will be great, some will be less so. Some stories are true, some are merely possible. This is one of them.

The Father’s Sole Son

It is a wise child that knows its own father, and an unusual one that unreservedly approves of him.” -Mark Twain

Floyd felt the lateness weighing heavily on him.  He had arrived to open the movie theater at nine a.m. and it was now ten at night.  He wanted to go home.  His bed was waiting for him.  His cat was assuredly hungry.  The only thing standing between Floyd and his bus that would take him away were the last people that stubbornly refused to leave the theater.

If Floyd were being completely honest, he would have to admit that he hadn’t actually asked anyone to leave.  He knew that if it were he, a fellow movie nut, he would also want to stay through the end of the credits.  However Floyd was the one ushering tonight.  Floyd was the employee this time; not the movie buff.  He kept hoping that if he sent mental notes to the few guys left sitting in the theater that they would wondrously leave of their own accord.  As the credits for the soundtrack and locations scrolled by, Floyd realized that his powers of mind control were just not up to snuff.

Someone had to stand at the back of theater to make certain that everyone left and tonight that someone was Floyd.  He stood there, arms at their sides, nodding to each person as they left.  His role was that of a representative.  Floyd was not expected to smile or speak.  If he were to offer an occasional, “thanks for coming” it would be viewed by the common outsider as a nice thing to do.  Really though, Floyd was just a figurehead.  He was a reminder that yes, someone did work here, and that someone was probably going to have to clean up the bucket of popcorn that was kicked over twelve minutes into the movie.

A man briskly walked out of the theater.  He started to rush by, saw Floyd, and scurried over to him. 

“Bathroom?” 

“Up the walkway, to the left”, Floyd replied with a rehearsed simplicity.  He knew that any further directions would have been confusing.  And a man who had walked out of a three-hour movie did not have time to waste on details if he had a general direction to follow.

A small boy wandered out of the theater and found his dad.  His sleepy eyes widened as he looked at Floyd.  Floyd wasn’t sure what he had done to deserve the boy’s attention.  He hadn’t blinked, he hadn’t sneered; as far as Floyd knew he hadn’t even moved.  What reason could the boy have for taking notice of the non-descript usher?

The boy elbowed his father and looked down at Floyd’s feet.  The dad smiled.

“Are those shoes comfortable?”

“I think so”, Floyd replied.  “They do all right.”  Floyd still didn’t know what it was about his new shoes, but everyone felt inclined to comment on them.  Some folks had a pair just like them, only pink.  Some thought they looked space age-y.  Floyd had bought them because they were shoes, they looked comfortable, and they had been on sale.  He didn’t know why this stranger was asking, let alone why his son would care.

“They’re Salomons”, the man continued.  His tone implied more of a statement than a question.

“I think so”, Floyd said.  He honestly didn’t know, nor did he care.  He remembered the brand starting with an “S” and assumed this man knew better.

“My dad made those shoes”, the little boy beamed.

The smile on the boy’s face said it all.  It wasn’t specifically Floyd’s shoes that the boy cared about; it was the connection to his father.  He quickly took his dad’s hand and they scurried up the ramp.  The way the boy looked at his father made it all perfectly clear.

It didn’t matter what the boy’s father did for a living.  The man could have been a judge or he could have been a fisherman.  The head of the family could have sold beers at a stadium or been one of the players on the field.  Floyd knew instantly that the boy simply cared that someone was supporting his father’s work.  The boy had pride in his dad.  The smile that had popped out had said it all in one quick glance.  He was proud of his dad, and he loved him.  If he had to point at strangers’ feet to find an excuse to talk to people about how great his father was, then he would do it.  This was the man that took him to movies and worked hard to pay for their popcorn.  The son, as far as he was concerned, had the coolest dad one could hope for.

Floyd also smiled.  The affection the boy had on his face had infected Floyd.  He took it with him on the bus and carried it all the way to his home.  Even into the next day, Floyd kept thinking about the pair of movie-goers.  Any man that could inspire that much love in his son was a rather fine man indeed.

As the Wheel Turns

In “Anecdotal Tales”, stories will be told. Some will be fun, some will not. Some will be great, some will be less so. Some stories are true, some are merely possible. This is one of them.

As the Wheel Turns

Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.” -Henry Ford

Tootsie didn’t understand what had happened to her relationship with Pete.  At first, it had all been so promising.  He had been attentive when she had first moved in.  Pete had held her tight and traced his fingers lightly over her chin while she drifted off to sleep.  Tootsie had woken up to meals that Pete had prepared just for her.  He would read her stories and keep her company until the wee small hours of the morning.  Yes, things had all started so happily for a lad and his hamster.

Then, as inevitably happens, Pete grew weary of Tootsie’s presence.  He would let a comment slip about the jowls around Tootsie’s neck.  He stopped feeding her expensive food and let her nibble on whatever morsels lay around the house.

When she had first moved in, Tootsie had been allowed free roam of their shared living space. Now she was confined to a metal cage.  She felt it terribly unfair that Pete was allowed to strap on his jogging shoes and run around outside, but Tootsie was expected to be content with her tiny world.  Pete was the one making jokes to his friends about how chubby Tootsie looked, but she was the one trapped with an exercise wheel and no other activities.  Tootsie wondered how inspired Pete would be to keep in shape if he were trapped running on the same boring machine hour after hour, every day.

Tootsie took a sip from the giant water bottle and took in a few stale drops of water.  The sweat from her morning stroll around the wheel was dripping down her body, matting clumps of hair together.  She wanted some sort of fun before she began yet another stroll around the circular treadmill later in the afternoon.  She had long ago wondered if all this exercise was really worth the benefits.  She knew that she could still squeeze through an empty cardboard tube.  Paper towels, toilet paper; she was up for any tiny obstacle that was placed in her path.  Yet, as she looked in her smudged mirror with the blue plastic frame that only slightly cheered up her drab environment, Tootsie saw no difference in her appearance.  She still appeared, as Pete so succinctly put it, like a giant fluffed up furball.

Staring at the clock on the wall, Tootsie tried to slow down her heart rate.  Her goal was always the same.  She wanted her heart to beat at the same tempo as the second hand.  If it was a good enough goal for Pete, then it was fine for her.  Yet, try as she might, the thump-thump sound of her chest was always ticking away much faster than any clock.  She closed her eyes, took deep breaths, tried to picture a white pearl in front of her nose in a black room; none of it worked.  As healthy as Tootsie should have been with her maddening exercise routine, she just couldn’t seem to measure up to Pete’s goals.

Maybe that was what was keeping them apart, Tootsie wondered.  When they had started spending so much time together, Pete’s attentions had been focused solely on his precious hamster.  Tootsie had thought that she was Pete’s entire world.  He laughed as she burrowed underneath her bedding, made sure her water was fresh, and generally watched her every adorable move.  But Tootsie had to admit that upon second thought, there had been signs that his attention had been waning.  Pete had other things on his mind.  He had work, friends, television, and books.  All Tootsie had were her cage and Pete’s affections.  She still liked having Pete around, but she wanted more.  Pete had started off holding the key to her heart, and now he wouldn’t even unlock the cage.

In desperation at her state, Tootsie crawled into the corner of her living quarters.  She was in no mood to eat or exercise.  She simply wanted to the world to make sense.  She wanted the same amount of attention that she had once gotten.  Why couldn’t anyone make Tootsie the center of her world?

Little did she know, Tootsie’s unheard pleadings were about to be answered.  Pete opened the apartment door at that moment with a paper bag in his hand and a smile on his face.  He walked straight to Tootsie’s cage as he reached inside the sack.

“I thought you could use a little pick-me up”, Pete teased.  “I know I haven’t been around much, but hopefully this’ll help.”

Tootsie heard a squeak come from the bag.  She hunched nervously in the corner, not sure what to expect.  Pete opened the cage door, placed his other fist inside, and then closed the squeaky latch once more.

There, much to Tootsie’s delight; was a male hamster.  And he was quite cute.

“Hey there”, the Hamster said as he winked one of his brown eyes.  “I’m Hugh.  How you doin’?”

“I’m fine”, Tootsie found herself saying.  “Much better now that you’re here.”

On that day Tootsie’s lonely and cramped world opened up.  All kinds of possibilities were now hers to explore.

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