It was a sad spring day, after my mother’s passing. The rain dropped into the sun, like tears, that quickly evaporated on my father’s face. I was nearly at mid-life, and he was at the end of life. I had no family and no prospects. I didn’t know how he would react to her loss. He was relatively stable, but relative, is a relative word. All of my relatives, were relative—they came and went, and didn’t stay very long. My mother was the glue that held our family together, and now my dad was left on his own. He was an engineer who liked to build things in his back garage—he also liked to drink.
“Dad, you shouldn’t operate power tools under the influence.”
“Under the influence of what, son?”
At least he went to church, where he could confess his sins in secret. If he stopped doing that, anything could happen, but I noticed, he was having difficulty getting ready to go in the mornings. He would sit in his chair, and clench his legs with his hands, and get up, and sit back down again.
“Not yet. Not yet,” he said. “Vick Beaty will be there, and he’ll want to talk to me about space aliens. No, I need to slip in at exactly the right moment! Okay,” and then he would go. Each week it became more difficult for him to get out of his chair. His work in the shop stopped.
“Dad, what have you been up to this week?”
“Oh, I watched a World War II documentary, and some episodes of the Twilight Zone.”
“Did you get out and talk to anybody?”
“I talked to the dog. She’s a bitch.” He smiled and scratched Belle behind the ears. “When are you going to get a wife, son?”
“Oh, I have plenty of time.”
“You’re almost 40. Why don’t you do something about that. You’re the last of us left.”
“It’s just that I’m not willing to change.”
“God—you are my son. I was headed to long-term bachelorhood when your mother called. She seemed to think, no other guy would go out with her—besides me. I couldn’t let her go alone. So, we went to the city theater, and watched a man in a leprechaun costume make a fool out of himself. I got semi-drunk, so I could deal with it, and then she told me, she wouldn’t tolerate drinking. I stopped for a while. She was a good one. What if I found a woman for you?”
“Finding a woman is easy, dad. It’s finding one that you can live with, that’s the hard part.”
“Well, I’ll do my research, and I’ll hook you up. There is no better place to find one, than in church.”
Normally, I would’ve protested, but I could see it was giving him a sense of purpose. Rather than going to the same church he had been going to for over 40 years, he started church hopping. Soon, he was telling me stories of pretty girls, and how he interviewed them, to see who they were about. He completely lost his anxiety, and was thrown-out of one congregation for asking her if she was a virgin. Apparently, they thought he was a dirty-old-man.
“It’s not for me! She’s for my son!” He yelled. But it didn’t make any difference. They were doing God’s work by getting rid of a man whose last dating experience was the 1970s.
“It’s slim-pickings out there, boy,” my dad said. There’s a lot of sexual girls out there, but not a lot of pretty ones on the inside. I’m sure, if it comes to that, I can get you a baby-momma, but a long-term wife?—even I have my doubts. My goal is to arrange a date for you, each week, and if inside of a year, I can’t find one—no hard feelings. The world has changed, and it’s best to get on with it, rather than moaning about not being able to pass-on your seed. I’m going to bed.” He fell asleep on the couch with a bottle in one hand and a picture of my mother in the other.
I almost wanted to get married, just to make him happy—but he was happy enough, trying to find me a wife. It was exciting for him, and I could tell the challenge of modern times, threw a wrench in his perfect schedule of wife-hunting, which only made the game more interesting.
During the day, my dad was spending more time on the internet. He had discovered online dating, and was trying to go to young adult groups, which was really difficult for him to pull-off. He was dressing in t-shirts and shorts, trying to act cool. I even saw him looking into a mirror, holding a razor, and seriously contemplating, shaving off his mustache of 40 years. A force prevented him from doing it. His arm was shaking.
“Son, I found a winner. She’s born again, and has great skin! I think you’ll like her.”
When I met-up with her for a coffee date, she had short black hair. She was a believer, but all she did was talk about Satan, and sexual sin. Coffee drinkers were staring at us. I was weird enough on my own.
“It’s not going to work, dad. You just don’t have a knack for hooking-up young guys with potential wives.”
“I used one of those marriage services once. It worked for my friends. I wonder what I’m doing wrong?”
I looked at him. He was wearing himself ragged, trying to become a grandfather. His jeans and Cabela’s shirt, were wrinkled. He wasn’t sleeping well. When a man gets frustrated pursuing a goal, he will shrug it off to sour grapes or drink wine. My dad started drinking wine. That evening, we watched a documentary about the disproportionate population in China. Men out-number women, three-to-one because of male preference and the corresponding privileges in their culture. Many of the men were tech savvy and trying to build themselves robotic wives. I could see my dad’s brain working. The only problem was, how could a robot make a grandchild? There were test-tube babies, and the local university would allow senior citizens to audit courses for free, so my dad started taking classes in robotics and biology, and started working around the clock in his back garage. A couple years went by. He was visiting the city morgue, on humanitarian missions for accident victims. He had joined all of these charities—like, Help her see again. New eyes for a new life. “Don’t make people stare—give her new eyes.” My dad tried to keep his activities private. On my 40th birthday, he decided to throw me a party. He showed-up with his new girlfriend who was half his age.
“Found her in church, son. After the ice cream, I’ll have you unwrap your gift.”
There was someone sitting at the far-end of the table who I didn’t know. She was beautiful, with milky-white skin, electric blue eyes, and a neck that had difficulty turning. She was most articulate, discussing topics of French literature. She could speak French.
“I’d like you to meet your new girlfriend,” my dad said. He was pointing at the lady at the far-end of the table. All of my relatives held their breath—they thought he had made a social blunder or was insane.
“It’s so good to meet you. Would you like to get married?” She asked.