The Big Mistake
Father’s Call Leaves Son Wishing for Un-listening Device
My first mistake was getting my 90-year-old father an iPhone. My second mistake was answering his call while he was buying his first new car in 30 years.
You would like Anne and Lenny Yordon. Mom is 5-foot-nothing and pretty much Jewish Mother 101. Dad is a big bear of man and the sweetest guy on the planet. They’ve been married for 61 years, and I’d be hard-pressed to remember a day when we didn’t laugh. Picture the Seinfelds and you’ve got it.
One day, Dad peels me off to the side and asks me to help persuade Mom to let him buy a new car. It seems she didn’t want to cut into our inheritance. Trying to get my mother to change her mind is like trying to get a beaver to take down a dam. I told her if she didn’t agree, I’d take the cost of the car and stuff it in her urn. Her eye-rolling was so extreme her hair moved, but she caved. Let the adventure begin.
Four days later, my dad is at a dealership in Daytona, sitting in the front seat of the car he wants to get. My phone rings, and I’m about to lose 20 minutes of my life.
Dad: I’m sitting in the front seat of this new car and I love it — it’s got Bluetooth and a satellite. (It may as well have had bubble gum seats and a gingerbread steering wheel, because Dad will never figure out how to use the gadgets.)
Me: That’s great, Dad; does Mom like it?
Dad: Your son wants to know if you like it.
Mom (yelling from the passenger seat): It’s OK — but I can’t see out the window.
Me (reluctantly asking the question I know will make me want to fill my ears with cement): Dad, why can’t she see out the window?
Dad: Gary wants to know why you can’t see out the window.
Mom (yelling): I’m too short — my eyes only come up to the top of the door.
Dad: She says she’s too short — and she can’t find the button that fixes the seat — here, you talk to her.
Me: No Dad, don’t hand her the ph … Hi, Mom.
Mom: If I bend my neck and pull myself up with this handle I can see outside — I can see the second floor of everything we pass. He really wants this car.
Me: Mom, there’s a button for that. Give the phone to Dad and reach down on the side of the seat and find the button.
(At this point Mom drops the phone between the seats, but I’m still connected and hearing everything.)
Mom (yelling as seat goes into full recline): Oh, Lord! I’m stuck.
Dad: I can’t reach the phone.
Mom: Lenny I can’t get back up.
Me (laughing so hard I can’t breathe): I’m still here!
Mom: Lenny, I really can’t get up. I can’t reach the button.
Dad: The damn phone is wedged down here.
Mom: Is Gary still on the phone?
Dad: How the hell would I know if he’s still on the phone? GARY ARE YOU STILL THERE? If he’s there I can’t hear him.
Mom: Where is our salesmen? I need him to do this seat.
Dad: Maybe I should call him.
Mom: That’s not funny I’m really stuck here.
Dad: Do you have anything in your purse I can use to pry this phone up?
Mom: For the love of God, I can’t reach my purse.
(Rustling noises and then the phone goes dead. One minute later, I get a call from Dad, who has accidentally hit FaceTime which he doesn’t know exists on his phone, and I watch him trying to hang up because he thinks it’s just the camera.)
Me (yelling): Dad, it’s not the camera, it’s FaceTime. I’m here!
Dad (putting the phone to his ear): How are you here on the camera?
Me: Move the phone away from your ear so I can see you.
Mom: Lenny, give me the phone. Gary, it’s Mom. Really!
Me (now looking into my Mom’s ear): I know, Mom.
Mom: Who makes a car like this where you can’t see out the window?
Dad: Who makes a wife who’s 4 feet tall?
Me: Dad, you can’t get a car if Mom can’t see out the window.
Dad: It’s not like there’s anything out there she needs to see.
Mom: So, what, you want me to get taller?
Me: Guys, I think you should look for another car. I’m sure there’s one with a window Mom can use.
Dad: Maybe they can lower the windows?
Me: Do they have a button that lets you un-hear a conversation?
Gary Yordon is president of The Zachary Group in Tallahassee, hosts a political television show, The Usual Suspects, and contributes columns to the Tallahassee Democrat newspaper. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.