I’m an anxious guy, a bit high-strung. I worry about everything and coming to Afghanistan has magnified this handsome little quirk to the power of crippling. I’ve been losing stuff more frequently since I got here. I just misplace stuff all the time. I set it down, I get up and forget it. I’ve already replaced a flashlight and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve lost my iPod touch only to have some honest person turn it in. (I’m pushing my luck.)
I’m worried that when I go on R & R I won’t come back. I’m worried I’ll be unemployed when I return. I’m worried I’ll be homesick again. Will I have that same despair I experienced or will I just move on quickly.
I worry a lot. And it goes against what I believe spirituality: God is in control. And I’m faced with the realization that my arrogance is the problem. I think I should know how things should and will go way in the future. This is a bad idea. A very bad idea.
And I keep losing stuff. I keep tapping my pockets, making sure everything is there. I’m developing a tic.
Since you all seem to be fond of my father’s idiosyncrasies, here’s another one.
When I was a kid, we had this thick orange carpet in our living room. And I mean, Three’s Company thick. And when you are growing up, you think your parents are normal. They just do stuff and you don’t think much of it. If one of them walks around the house in his underwear, all dads do that. We just think that there is a carbon copy of some other kid’s parents singing in the shower just like ours does.
I remember, night after night, my dad would rake the carpet so it would be even. Did I say night after night? I meant, about 5 times a day he would rake it.
He had a carpet rake. He would just rake it and rake it until it was perfection. I just didn’t hear the whoomp whoomp whoomp anymore while I read on the couch or watched Cheers.
I could hear it from our basement, but it didn’t bother me. As I progressed through Legend of Zelda, it just went on above my head.
But like a brick through a stained glass window, a shattering and crashing follows.
I remember having friends over. I was 13 and we were watching Stand By Me. I love that movie. A classic coming of age movie where a kid grows up a bit, realizing he has some courage inside of him. That courage carries him on so he becomes a writer, no matter what his father says.
While watching the movie, most likely the train scene, one of my buddies says, “What is that sound?”
“What sound?” I say, eating some potato chips.
“THAT sound?” And over the whistle blowing in the movie, I hear the familiary WHOOMP WHOOMP.
“Oh, that’s my dad. He’s raking the rug.” I said this like, “Oh, that’s my dad eating a ham sandwich.” or “Oh that’s my dad, loading the dishwasher.”
I had never received the kind of look my friends gave me. Bewilderment, confusion and a failure to comprehend what I said.
I might as well said, “Oh, that’s my dad, riding a dragon.”, “Oh, that’s my dad, eating a zorbee.” or “Oh that’s my dad, purple gurple ding dong cha-cha.”
They made a B-line for the stairs and calmored up them like the Two Stooges, shoving and pushing, not wanting to miss the show.
I remember thinking, “They don’t rake the rug in their house? What is WRONG with them?”
They managed to catch the end of the show, my dad putting the final touches on the carpet before he headed out the garage.
I walked up there and my father turned around and asked my friends what they thought. One of them swallowed hard said, “Looks good. Real good.”
My dad put the rake where it belonged in the dining room, (of course) and went into the garage. Before he shut the door, he said, “If you guys walk on that carpet, I’ll kill you both.” (I assumed he was referring to my friends, cause I knew better.)
My friends and I walked back downstairs to finish the movie, grabbing some more Pepsi and some chips in the kitchen .
Before I could hit “pause” to restart the VHS tape, my friends grilled me on the carpet raking procedure.
“How often does he do it?” (5 times a day. He’ll call sometimes and ask, “How does the carpet look?”)
“Do you rake the carpet?” (No, he doesn’t let me. I don’t have the technique.)
“Does he rake the carpet in the rest of the house?” (No, that’s the only carpet that’s shaggy.)
“Did he ever hit you with the rake?” (No, but he threw it at my dog once. Felix hated him for about 6 months. Cost my dad a lot of ice cream. And that’s a weird question.)
We watched the movie and I remembered thinking, “What else do my parents do that’s weird?” And I had nothing to really compare it to since I didn’t really hang with a lot of my friends’ parents.
The movie ended and I walked my friends to the door, their parents waiting for them in the driveway. I remember my buddy saying, “Ryan, is that a picture of Elvis in your dining room?”
“Yeah, it’s pretty great isn’t it?”