Today, as mentioned earlier, my father went to the Veterans Administration to get his hearing aids checked. Not his hearing, mind you, just the aids.
We pick up the story after the aforementioned very Christian-steeped Christmas card was handed to us in the lobby.
“Say, Ba,” he said, picking up the envelope, “was there a check inside?”
We make our way to Audiology, a long walk from the front entrance, so I got him in a wheelchair, which only slightly mitigated the kvetching.
“Where is the place?” he asks, “Arkansas?”
“Why’d they put it there?”
“Just to piss you off.”
“Question: is this a government building?”
“Yeah, it’s the VA.”
“Is Tulsa a big government building town?”
“I have no idea how to answer that.”
“Nice building. They got G.I. doctors here?”
“They in uniform?”
“Am I here because of my war injuries?”
“You didn’t have any war injuries.”
“I didn’t think so.”
We arrive at Audiology, where the audiologist takes out my father’s hearing aids, cleans them, and puts them back in his ear.”
“Can you hear a difference?” she asks.
“I don’t know,” he says. “Tell me a dirty joke.”
On the way home, we pass, among other stores, a QuikTrip, a couple of restaurants, a Starbucks, a car wash, car dealerships, 24-hour fitness centers, and the like.
“Wow we wow!” he says.
“Who knew Tulsa did this kind of business? Are they all government buildings?”
“You’re killing me, you know that?”
“Is ‘Tulsa’ an English word?”
“Yeah, what kind?”
“I don’t know.”
“Why don’t you know these things?”
Although this moment happened earlier, first thing, actually, I saved it for the end because, to my mind, it was a Jack Friedman walk-off home run.
We are waiting for the elevator on the 2nd floor. My father is sitting in a chair.
“Oy, Ba, what the hell happened? Where did it all go? It’s good I stopped smoking.”
“You stopped smoking 45 years ago.”
“What do you mean?”
“You stopped smoking in the 70s.”
“I did not.”
“What are you talking about? I had one last week.”
“No you didn’t.”
“But it’s good I stopped anyway.”
“Yes it is.
The elevator door opens (at the Hebrew Home Hotel, which is important to the story) and three women are inside, one wearing a “What a friend we have in Jesus” t-shirt. My father without missing a beat, in full stride, before the door closes, says, “You’re in the wrong place.”