Sunday, March 24, 2013

No. 438 – Old Friends / Bookends

Performer: Simon & Garfunkel
Songwriters: Paul Simon
Original Release: Bookends
Year: 1968
Definitive Version: The Concert in Central Park, 1982

Being accepted to Northwestern’s journalism school meant I had one more summer of being a kid where I didn’t have to try to figure out what I was going to do next.

I just needed to make living arrangements. For reasons I’ll get into later, I couldn’t live with Mom, and I didn’t want to live with Dad. Jin, of course, was well-established there. Matt had his own room, and now that Scott was there down in the basement, my only choice was the tiny guest room. The truth is, I just didn’t want to live there—even though I’d be over there almost every day. There was only one solution: I would live with my grandparents.

This, in my opinion, was an ideal solution. I could have the entire second floor of their house, which had its own full bathroom, as well as a little deck overlooking the backyard.

But better than that: in June, my grandparents would head to Torch Lake for the summer. I’d have the whole place to myself, which meant, of course, I could bring over Beth any time I wanted. My eyes widened in anticipation of the nonstop sexual opportunities this afforded.

So I went into sales mode: I can’t live at home; there isn’t enough room at Dad’s; and I would be able to help out at Meem and Pop’s. I could do all the yardwork; I’d be gone most of the time, either at work or out, so I wouldn’t get in the way at all; and when Meem and Pop go to Torch Lake, I would house-sit their home. See? Everyone benefits.

They bit, so in May 1986, I moved in my stuff from college and lived for the first time in Columbus away from Mom. After being at Wabash for months, I didn’t miss going back to breathing cigarette smoke again, so that was an additional benefit.

I got along great with my grandparents—particularly Meemaw. I remember one time I was there on a day off, and we watched the NBC Game of the Week sitting around the table in the kitchen, which, as I mentioned, was her go-to spot during the day. It was the game when the A’s beat Roger Clemens for his first loss after 12 straight victories, and I was telling Meemaw all about the players.

Another time, I had just bought Live in Central Park and was playing it on the record player in the living room, trying to keep quiet and not bother anyone as I worked on my Strat-o-Matic stats. At one point, Meemaw came into the room, and I asked if my music were bothering her. She said yes and turned the stereo UP so she could hear it better. She loved Simon & Garfunkel.

May turned to June, and my anticipation that they would be leaving soon began to build. Then June rolled into July. What the hell? Well, it turns out I wasn’t as smart as I thought I was. Meem and Pop went up to Torch Lake for only two or three weeks, and, just as sure as I’m writing this, I’m sure it was because they KNEW that if they left me alone … with Beth … for any length of time, their house would turn into a den of inequity.

That, of course, is exactly what happened when they finally left, but it was for only a few weeks. It was better than nothing, for sure, but my well-thought-out plan didn’t pay off like I thought it would when I conjured it.

I tell you, grandparents are craftier than you give them credit for.

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