So my dad now has Netflix.
Now this is your basic mini cultural revolution, believe me. He once was blind but now can see kind of thing. As I’ve said before, only half-jokingly, I am Amish — Amish by association with a dad who grew up in the heart of Amish country and would be Amish if he didn’t like electricity so durned much. In his heart of hearts, he is Amish. Because my dad, at 73, is an innocent. I don’t mean this as a negative. Not at all. Never. It’s endearing to me. The thing about him that most tugs at my heart. He’s incredibly smart, but he’s just an innocent about certain things. In business, he’s been a real crackerjack, successful and still working, I might add. Yet in other ways, he’s a bit of a Walter Mitty, creating his own world where he stacks rocks in weightless, tip-to-tip formations and turns wood into delicate lacy eggs and creates flowing stained glass lamps to make you weep, doing each until he’s mastered it and moved on to the next thing to master. He’s almost a savant in certain things. The ease with which can master things. If he can see it in his mind’s eye, he can create it in reality. He never questions whether he can. He simply does.
On the other hand, the majority of mainstream culture eludes him. Movies, TV shows, texting, iPods, all of that. It’s outside of his life. Beyond him in most ways. Well, I take that back. He does have a Kindle now and ….. well, I seriously need to monitor him, I think. Check his pulse. Take blood pressure readings. Chart his intake. I’m not kidding. He’s like a little kid who’s never eaten sugar finally tasting it for the first time and discovering an instant addiction the minute it hits his tongue. No one eaaaased him into it. Nope. BAM! He tasted the Kindle and his eyes spun round like pinwheels and he was gone. Nutso. There’s a bit of a feeding frenzy going on. A teensy maniacal binge. He’s now almost conjoined with his Kindle, one with it. Clearly, the man’s forays into mainstream culture need to be monitored and I’m just the smug little prissypants to do it. You just can’t be too careful.
I mean, in The Fly that Brundle guy becomes one with a freaking house fly, making him Brundlefly, which is disgusting, and eventually Brundledead, which is tragic not to mention messy, and generally not how you want your scientific experiments to go, I imagine. So I’m just doing my due diligence as a daughter by regularly checking in with dad to make sure he’s not actually becoming one with his Kindle.
I want a dad, not Kindledad.
So he called me Friday to announce he’d signed up for Netflix. Another foray into mainstream culture — albeit a very belated one — that makes my blood click like I’m watching a little kid cross a street by himself.
The conversation goes like this:
Dad: So we got Netflix.
Me (hmm): Hey, that’s great, Dad.
Dad: Yeah. We’re queueing up all the classics.
Dad: The first one we got was Citizen Kane.
Me: (uh-oh) Oh, yeah?
Dad: Yeah. (pause) I didn’t like it.
Me: Oh? Why not?
Dad: It was boring. I didn’t get it. I mean, I got it, but I didn’t get it. Why is it such a big deal?
I explain why Citizen Kane is a big deal. He is unimpressed.
Dad: Well, okay. I just didn’t like it.
Me: That’s okay. It’s not for everyone, Dad.
Dad: But I’m supposed to like it.
Me: Oh, who cares? I mean, you like what you like.
Dad: That’s true. So we’re just going through their list of classics.
The word he fails to mention here is “indiscriminately.” He is going through the Netflix list of classics, adding them to his queue indiscriminately.
Dad: Yeah. Midnight Cowboy is next.
Me (what??): Oh. No, Dad.
Dad: “No,” what?
Me: You won’t like that.
Dad: I won’t?
Me: NO. Trust me, Dad.
Dad: But it’s already been sent.
Me: So what? That doesn’t mean you HAVE to watch it.
Dad: Well, yeah.
Me: So don’t, okay? TRUST ME ON THIS.
Dad: But I like cowboys.
Oh, sweet baby Jesus in the manger. He’s not kidding, either.
Me: Not really about cowboys, Dad.
Dad (he will not let it go): Oh? Is it too violent or too sexual or something?
Me: Well, okay. One of the characters is a male prostitute.
Me (laughing): You asked.
Dad: I think I’ll skip that then.
Me: Funny. That’s what I just said.
Dad: Wanna know what else is in my queue?
Me: Yes, actually. I think you’d better tell me.
Dad: Okay. Um. Rear Window.
Me: Great! Hitchcock. One of my favorites. Jimmy Stewart. Grace Kelly looking gorgeous. You’ll like it.
Dad: Blazing Saddles?
Literally, the man is rattling off movies without the slightest clue about them at all.
Me: Uhm …. not sure if you’ll like it. It’s Mel Brooks. You might think it’s stupid funny.
Me: Try it and see.
Me: Uhm ….. (incest alert, etc.) …. well …. it’s a great movie. Hmm. Try it out, Dad.
Dad: Ooh. We watched Lawrence of Arabia.
Me: Yeah? What did you think?
Dad: Well, we had to watch it in installments.
Me: Yeah. It’s long. That’s okay.
Dad: But I thought it was fantastic!
Me: Great! Yeah, I just love that movie.
Dad: Let’s see. What else is in the queue? Oh. A Clockwork Orange?
Me: No, Dad.
A Clockwork Orange?? The man is Amish. Not in a million, Ephraim. Good grief. He needs my hovering involvement more than he could possibly imagine.
Dad: Okay. North by Northwest?
Me: Another Hitchcock. Plus Cary Grant. Put all of Hitchcock in your queue, Dad. I think you’ll like him.
Dad: The Godfather?
Me: Well, it’s violent, Dad, but you’re a guy. You HAVE to watch The Godfather. You just do.
Dad: Breakfast at Tiffany’s?
I tell you true: He will not even catch the gay thing.
Me: Hm. Well, there’s Audrey Hepburn. Sure, Dad. You might like it.
Dad: Well, I like her.
Me: Watch it, then.
Dad: Okay. I’ll let you know how it all goes.
Me: Great. Yeah, keep me posted.
Seriously. Keep me posted, Dad.
I can’t have you watching movies all willy-nilly. I do not want Hollywood stealing your innocence at 73. Plenty of time for that when you’re older. And someone needs to be the parent around here, young man. Nothing R-rated without my approval. I mean it. I have your cell phone number and I WILL be using it.
I will not have your Amish eyes spinning round like pinwheels, mister.