The other evening after work, I was strolling through my beloved Trader Joe's when the Paul Anka song "Put Your Head On My Shoulder" kicked on over the stereo system. Piping in the oldies is a Trader Joe's trademark in my neck of the woods. This track instantly transported me back to childhood and the special father-daughter "date nights" I enjoyed on many a Friday or Saturday night. On such evenings we would meet in the kitchen and listen to the local oldies radio station (Damn, do people even listen to radios anymore?) and he would tell me stories about his childhood growing up during the Depression and WWII, high school in the fifties, his army days, our family --so, so many things by the hour. From FDR and Fibber McGee to ducktails (or DAs), I absorbed his life story in rapt fascination. He was a cool guy, my dad, a bit of a Fonzie in my eyes. He always wore blue jeans and a white t-shirt and I thought it was funny how he'd roll his pack of cigarettes up in his t-shirt sleeve. To my delight and horror, he'd remove his thumb and steal my nose. He did a dead-on Boris Karloff impression and regaled me with stories about Lon Chaney, The Man of a Thousand Faces. From my father, I learned how to make a root beer float, how to jitterbug, and perhaps the sweetest cliché of all, I learned to slow dance by putting my little feet on top of his while he waltzed me across the linoleum floor. And in that grocery store the other evening, I remembered dancing with my father to "Put Your Head On My Shoulder," and I could hear him crooning along with Anka.
My dad's still alive but very frail and his mind slips a little too far in the past a little too often now. The clock is counting down, and that song made me hear the second hand loud and clear. Trance-like, I made my way to the fruit, singing softly to the music and my eyes welling with tears. I just stood at the pile of oranges, weeding through them one by one with my peepers all salt and shine, thinking of my dad and about how such little time it is I have left with him and how I have already lost parts of him forever. When the song ended, I was still sorting through those damned oranges and with a sniffle and a shake of my head I thought, "Well, I should probably blog about this: how to shop for oranges Shoestring Sally style."
Now if you're scratching your head over this post and wondering "What's up with all this orange picking Paul Anka Daddy jazz?" let me explain a little. I do without, I want a lot and I get more than I need. On this blog I indulge in materialistic fantasies and daydreams of decadence, but I also try to come down to earth every once in awhile and bring y'all with me. Because we spend a lot of time up in the stars these days, don't we? I know that designer clothes, designer houses, designer lives are just that: designs, pretty pictures and patterns to wrap ourselves up in. But there is so much more to living well than what we have. Walking home with my groceries, I thought about all the things I want like the items on my Fashion Bucket List, zero student loan debt, fortune and fame and trips to the tropics. I also thought about all the wonderful nights spent in the kitchen with my dad, and I realized, if I had the choice to get all the things I want but to lose all that he had given me, I would choose...well, my dad! Oh, I still want a Gucci purse and an Ossie Clark gown, but a dance with Daddy on a shabby linoleum floor in a shabby kitchen, in a shabbier house is by far more elegant than any of it.
And, hey, I always got top drawer oranges. And now you will too.
For Dad, an oldie but a goodie.