Six hours of Godzilla movies, some lime ices, two hours of swimming, a couple of pounds of spaghetti and meatballs, an apple pie and a quart of vanilla ice cream. Apparently, that equals the optimal day when you’re a seven-year-old boy. At least in one case. Now I’m not seven. And when I was seven, I’m guessing I would have preferred six hours of Universal Classic Monster Movies and maybe I’d have gone with blueberry pie in that line up. But I definitely remember most of the vibe in that set of choices.
And so, I set up the itinerary exactly as specified by my guest. And it was swell. Now don’t get me wrong. I would have preferred six fewer hours of Godzilla and maybe a ribeye steak would have been higher up on my list than spaghetti today for instance but bonding with the grandkids is an item very close to the top item on my list of priorities. And because when you have several grandsons and they all differ in their preferences about everything including activities, foods, desserts and movies it sort of behooves you to divide and conquer. So, I’ve instituted a separate day for each of them to spend the day with me and Camera Girl. And on that day, they get to pick the activities, entertainment, food and desserts. And they even get to decide when it’s over.
And it works. Without his brothers or parents there, each kid gets to call the shots and be the king. No one tells him to eat his vegetables or finish everything on his plate. No one says six hours of bad movies is too much or says to get out of the pool because we have to pick somebody up from something or other. And he even gets the chance to discuss with a supposed grown man whether Godzilla would beat King Kong or T. Rex or Indominus Rex or the Mosasaurus and why and under what circumstance. And how Godzilla can have radioactive fire but somehow it doesn’t kill King Kong. And he has to do it with a straight face.
And he can even eat his dinner while watching tv on the couch and not have to do any chores all day and go home as late as he wants.
But it’s also a good deal for me. I can sort of remember caring about, “Who would win?”. Sure, maybe it wasn’t Godzilla. Maybe it was a Roman legion versus Alexander’s Macedonian phalanx. Or Superman versus Thor. Or whatever ridiculous thing I imagined that day. But the point is I sort of recall the feeling. Some very old neurons fire off a few synapses that I haven’t used in sixty years or so and it’s fascinating. I almost remember being that age. I almost remember the feelings. And it’s pretty great.
I’m working this program youngest to oldest. So, as we move up the line things should get more and more familiar. Or will they? Is nineteen any closer to who I am than seven? I don’t know. Each page in the book of life is an island. A snapshot. All of them are long ago. But I expect to enjoy each chance to delve into their present and my past at the same time.
And ultimately, I’m trying to build a little immortality. I still remember the times my grandfather came to visit me as I was growing up. He understood that public relations with your descendants was terribly important. So, he did it right. He brought us out for the biggest, greasiest triple cheeseburgers at Wesson’s and he always had chewing gum when he came over and he always took us for a drive to the most beat up neighborhoods in NYC where he knew the most bizarre characters like a jeweler that he worked for as an armed guard. And he always had stories about his times as a cop or when he was the mayor’s bodyguard or a private detective. Or when he shot it out with armed robbers from the running board of a commandeered taxi.
And because he spent the time with us, in a sense, he’s still alive even forty some-odd years after his death. And if I tell his stories to my grandkids then maybe he lives another hundred years. So that’s my game. I’m working on my immortality. And I’m paying forward things that were given to me long ago. What’s more valuable than that?