Mr. Fix-It: Part Two

Prepare yourself, gentle readers of Northern California, for a life-changing experience. I hope you are seated, but not too closely together to another chair.

On Monday the five of us (me, my mother and father, my brother R and his girlfriend) had traveled up north to go on a cheese tour. On our way back from goat cheese and wine pairings, we stopped at a Peet’s Coffee in north Santa Rosa. I hadn’t had coffee all day and felt deprived; it isn’t their coffee I love so much as their espresso.
I ask everyone their order except my father because what he says he wants is not what he wants; he says hot coffee with steamed milk, but at the ratio he considers perfection (i.e. when he won’t complain and ask the barista for hot water or to microwave it), what he really wants is a latte. I order everyone’s drinks while everyone’s taking turns at the restrooms. I put together two round tables and bring together five chairs for us.

For whatever reason, when my father sits down, he grabs another chair and pulls it close to his own even though we already have enough. I go up and grab our drinks as they come out.

Everyone is enjoying their drinks, even my father. I help my brother with his phone because he couldn’t figure out how to get Pok√©mon Go working. (I still don’t play it, but I knew what the issue was.)

My father decides his drink needs one more Splenda, so he moves to get up but immediately sits back down. There is a look of pained horror on his face that I find baffling.

“What’s that face for?” I ask. “The Splenda is right over there.”

He hangs his head down and shakes it.

“What?” Now all of us are turned and looking at him, giving our full attention.

After a long pause and more head shaking, he says:

“These chairs were too close together, and when I moved,” here he lowers his voice, “I pinched my scrotum.”

If any of us had anything in our mouths at that moment, I am certain we would have either choked or spit it out. Instead, we all began laughing, me especially because if he hadn’t pulled in the unneeded sixth chair to begin with, there wouldn’t have been a problem.

When he finally got his Splenda, he stayed standing a while, hovering over us.

“Why aren’t you sitting down?” My brother asks.

“He’s still in recovery from his chair incident,” I say. More laughter.

I shall never be able to visit that Peet’s ever again without remembering this story. And if you, gentle readers, should find yourself at that Peet’s in North Santa Rosa, be careful where you sit, knowing that two chairs there once pinched an older man’s scrotum.

Mr. Fix-It

My family came to visit, seeing my new apartment in San Francisco for the first time.

My dad, in typical fatherly fashion, had to make himself useful by playing Mr. Fix-It.

“What’s wrong with your sink?” He asks, as if he doesn’t already know.

“It runs slow,” I answer.

“Did your friend not live here for a long time?”

“He has been gone a while.”

“The pipes are probably clogged with silt. I can fix this. Do you have something I can use to clean the pipes, like a hanger?”

I find an old dry cleaner’s hanger with the cardboard bottom and hand it to him. He pulls the cardboard stick part off and starts messing with the sink.

The rest of us continue doing normal family visiting things, like talking. I hear him continue to tinker away with the sink, flushing water, and seeing how slow it drains.

Finally he moves on to the metal part of the coat hanger and bends it like a fishing line and hook. He starts trying to clear whatever gunk buildup he can reach with it. Then it gets stuck.

He calls my younger brother for help, figuring a younger, stronger person could get the coat hanger unstuck. My brother fails, and it starts looking like we’ll need to take apart the pipes.

My father likes to tell people how he once visited a fortune teller who read his palm and told him that in a past life he was a great Chinese philosopher. Confucius, he decided.

As I relay the news to the rest of the family that we now need to make a trip to the local hardware store to fix the sink, I joke, “In a past life, he was an abortionist.”

“But not a very good one,” my brother adds.