Hanging out with baby boomers is always an adjustment since it’s not something I normally do for 36 hours straight. My parents arrived in LA over Christmas weekend to help decorate my new apartment and teach me the right way to hang pants on a hanger.
My mom, a vegetarian of sorts for the last 30 years, decided to give up chicken and fish for good, she informed me. She read a book by a doctor who claims that by not eating anything with a face and also giving up oils, you can prevent heart disease. This is the same woman who a day earlier sent me a youtube video of a man in the wild being fondled by gorillas. She would be in charge of hanging my collection of eight square mirrors I bought at Ikea above my bed.
My dad was in the bathroom hammering a shower rod over the shower doors. My job was to let my mom know if the first mirror was straight. Without measuring tape it was hard to gauge if the first mirror was centered, and even harder to tell if the mirror was straight.
After the mirror was glued to the wall my dad came out of the bathroom. “It’s crooked!”
There was no way to remove the mirror, but at least the shower rod was in tact. We managed to hang all of the mirrors on the wall thanks to my dad saying either “crooked” or “good” even though the difference between “crooked” and “good” was hardly good.
My dad interrupted our wall mounting by taking out a deck of cards and asking me to pick a card and then re-insert the card back into the deck. He made me cut the deck, haphazardly shuffled the cards and asked “Is this your card?”
Followed by, “Okay—is this your card?”
Next he placed a quarter in each hand and asked me to point to where I thought the quarters were.
“In both hands.”
He opened his fists and both quarters were under his right hand.
“Pretty good!” he exclaimed.
“Yea, cool trick.”
“He does this trick at the farmers market” my mom interjected. “He says, ‘if you can tell me which hand the quarters are in I don’t get a free sample. If you can’t, I get a free sample.”
My father is the kind of person who learns magic to get extra apple slices at the farmers market.
While at happy hour in Los Feliz I was reminded of a conversation that my co-workers were having about if they ever saw their parents drunk. Someone said that they remember their mom once drinking too much when they were a little kid.
“The last time my dad drank too much was the last time I saw him.”
It’s Christmas Eve and my dad is the only patron at this near empty bar on Vermont performing amateur magic for the female bartender to get an extra sample of Delirium Tremens.
In the middle of the night we awoke startled by the crashing sound of the mirror falling from just above my mom’s head on to the floor. The one night my mom stays over in my apartment she is mere inches from receiving a permanent facial scar. Was this my dad’s latest illusion?
In the morning, freshly recovered from her near death experience, my mom insisted we take a walk to Albertsons to buy almond milk. The cashier handed me a dozen “Win Big” instant savings coupons. I also bought a Bingo Lottery scratcher which I handed to my dad to scratch off with my house key. While my mom and I finished unpacking groceries my dad exclaimed, “You just won $500!”
“A Christms Miracle!” I exclaimed.
My mom verified the matching numbers and we headed back to Albertsons to redeem the winnings. After shutting the door I checked my pockets like I always do.
“I left my keys inside.”
“What are we going to do?”
“Who needs keys when you have $500?!”
High from winning the lottery I texted a girl I met two nights ago telling her I just won $500 and that I’d like to take her out the next night. We handed the winning ticket to the cashier who inserted the ticket into the machine, input the lotto # into the system and pressed a few other buttons.
The machine spat out the ticket.
“Not a winner.”
Clearly we had all the matching numbers. My mom, dad and the cashier all saw proof. The cashier tried again and achieved the same result. We decided to drive to the next closest Albertsons. My dad handed me the card back. I looked at the numbers just to make sure.
“B7…I28….N36… G50….” I paused then took a deep breath. “Where do you see G50?”
“What do you mean?”
“There is no G50. It’s G60! I didn’t win anything!”
Twenty minutes earlier I texted Tammy that I won the lottery and that I would take her out. Now I would have to spend money I didn’t have and tell her the only lottery I won involved instant savings on Pepperidge Farm.
As we drive up the hill to the Griffith Obersvatory my mom is emotional that my sister is mad at her and makes my dad call her. We are all upset we are locked out of my apartment. I haven’t showered since Friday and I’m wearing a hot dog tee shirt.
My apartment manager was celebrating Christmas with her family until 8pm leaving us most of the day left to explore Los Angeles on the one day nothing is open. We couldn’t agree on a movie and my mom vetoed Chinese. The magician who could not distinguish a 5 from a 6, suggested we go to the Hollywood Cemetery to see some of the famous people buried there.
“You know in LA we can see famous people who aren’t dead?”
Families were mourning their loved ones and my dad is asking for a map.
“Can you tell me how to get to Charlie Chaplin’s plot?”
From there, we took a scenic driving tour through Hancock park, discovered a German sports bar in Koreatown, my mom and sister made up, and we laughed recalling our misadventures over Pad See Ew in Thai Town.
Falling asleep to Christmas Vacation was a fitting end to an exhilarating Steingart Family Christmas weekend. After my parents left the shower rod fell down, and the next day at work I received a little Christmas bonus in the amount of… $500.
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