It is with some trepidation I anticipate my father's arrival in the Big Smoke next week. For in all honesty, he is one too many pretzels short of snack basket.
Literally. Endearingly. Mad as a Hatter. Attention span rivaling that of a yak. The poster boy for Ritalin. Strange intellectual genius. Last year, he buys a plane, retires, moves into a loft apartment on the Cape peninsula, writes three books.
Small Bum will meet him next week, I have started to brief him. No sudden movements, and no wise-cracks about the frequency of his staying over at my place. He may be eccentric, but God only knows how protective the man is.
Our conversation yesterday epitomised the role both my father and I play in the non-classic father-daughter stature we have, which should ordinarily be reversed.
Dad: Speak. (This is how he answers his phone.)
Peas: Dad I’ve been trying to get hold of you all day! Why was your phone off?
Dad: Because I hate telephones.
Peas: When are you arriving, I need to brief Third World Ant. The girl needs a heads up.
Dad: I bought bunk beds.
Dad: Bunk beds, you know, double story beds.
Peas: [resignatory sigh.] Why? What the hell do you want with bunk beds? (“jousteeng steecks, what do you want with jousteeng steecks?” - The Castle)
Dad: Think about it! I have four different ways to sleep! Push them together, dismantle them to make two singles, on the top, on the bottom…
Peas: Because an ordinary double bed is just too ordinary?
Dad: Now I can play with [2-year old nephew] and hide the ladder so he’s stuck on the top.
Peas: Does he enjoy being stuck on the top Dad?
Dad: No. He screams.
Peas: So it’s all fun and games for you then?
Peas: When are you coming to Johannesburg? I need to mentally prepare.
Dad: Can I meet some of your friends?
Peas: If you behave. I’ll organise a braai.
Dad: Are any of them single?
Peas: Oh my God Dad. What did I tell you about hitting on my mates?
Dad: Hey, it was only that one time. Besides, women your age don’t have baggage.
Peas: Last time you hit on a work colleague of mine and scared her!
Dad: She loved it.
Peas: You’re 53! Dad I’m warning you. Fine, I’ll just invite all my male friends.
Dad: Then I won’t come. I’ll go and sulk at Rosebank Mall.
Peas: How will you get there?
Peas: We’ve discussed this Dad. People don’t walk in Joburg.
Dad: Speaking of which, where can I park my plane?
Peas: What? Shit I have no idea?! At the airport?
Dad: Thing is they won’t let me fly into Joburg International. I only have clearance to fly into Brakpan.
Peas: Sweet Darryl. I have to collect you in Brakpan? Where?
Dad: The guy told me its an airstrip next to a place called Carnival City.
Peas: Oh my shattered fat hat. SO WHEN DO YOU ARRIVE?
Dad: Well that’s the problem…I’ve been delayed.
Peas: By what?
Dad: I forgot to read the small print on my plane manuel. It needs to be test flown for ten hours just outside of Cape Town for safety protocol. I don’t understand why, I mean, everything looks alright.
Peas: Well best you test fly it.
Dad: Who cares if a couple of bolts are loose?
Peas: You’re joking right?
Dad: No. Not really.
Peas: Dad call me once the test flying is over.
Dad: I ordered a subscription of Time magazine. You read it?
Peas: Uh yes…why?
Dad: It’s become so…juvenile. I’ll send it to you rather. I only got the subscription because they throw in a free camera.
Peas: You’re a photographer by profession. You’ve got a camera.
Dad: Ah…but not THIS camera.
Peas: Dad, you're going to be nice to Small Bum aren't you?
Dad: Who is this Small Bum you're always speaking of?
Peas: Dad! [exasperated shriek]
Dad: Yes yes...sure I will. [evil chuckle]
Please pass the Calmettes.