Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

The Surprises in Store When Shopping with Dad

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

The Surprises in Store When Shopping with Dad

Article excerpt

Today's topic: Taking Emilio shopping.

Why?

Good question.

Emilio -- my father -- is 86 years old. What does he need? Thanks to amazon.com, I tend to all his entertainment needs.

"Can you get me that movie with Richard Widmark?"

"Which movie, Dad?"

"You know. With Richard Widmark. The war movie."

I go online. "Halls of Montezuma?" "Down to the Sea in Ships?" "Hell and High Water?"

"No. You know. They're prisoners of war. What's the name of it?"

I shake my head. Finally: "Do you mean 'Stalag 17? With William Holden?"

"Yes!" he replies. "William Holden! 'Stalag 17.' Who did I say?"

Grumble.

My mother buys his food. He doesn't need any more clothes. Or "World's Greatest Grandpa" shirts. Or -- heaven help us -- shoes.

I have three pairs of shoes. My father has 60. I'm not kidding. He has an entire closet filled with nothing but shoes.

Imelda if it's a girl. Emilio if it's a boy.

So, he doesn't need fashion, footwear or food.

In other words: He needs NOTHING.

Still, when I'm visiting, Dad always asks if I want to go shopping with him.

"Shopping for what?"

"Anything. I don't care. Let's get out of the house."

I've never been one of those people who enjoyed shopping -- unless we're talking about food shopping, and even that is a pain.

For Dad, though, shopping is a social event. A change of scenery. An adventure!

Taking my father to a store is like taking a kid to an amusement park. He looks around, wide-eyed. He wanders. He talks to other people. He wants to go on all the rides and bring home a souvenir.

He even dresses up for the occasion. Slacks. Dress shirt. No shoes.

"You have 60 pairs of shoes in the closet," I note, "and you're going to the store in your slippers?"

"Yeah. My feet hurt. Why? Are you embarrassed to be seen with an old man in his slippers?"

"Of course, not," I reply. "Wearing slippers to the store is fine. You want to wear your bathrobe, too? We'll tell everyone you're Vincent 'The Chin' Gigante. If you want, I could even put a pillow under my shirt and go as Fat Tony Salerno."

Next stop: The car.

"Can you do this @#$% thing?" he'll say, fumbling with his seat belt, after climbing into my passenger seat.

Dad's vision is poor, but not gone. …

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