Saturday, June 07, 2008

El Abuelo

The state of Utah managed to weather another visit from my dad, who comes every six or seven months to check up on his three daughters, torment his four grandsons, cruise the aisles of Costco in search of "deals," and continue in his quest to find the best cup of coffee in the state.

Going into a coffee shop with my dad is quite an ordeal. First he explains that he is from Venezuela, where coffee tastes good. He then asks to see their coffee machine. If it appears that the shop has the capability to make decent espresso, he asks if he may show the person behind the counter how to make cafe con leche. This process involves drawing lines on a coffee cup, filling the cup with milk and coffee to the appropriate lines, adding numerous packets of sugar, and then requesting that the shop remember the process so that he may come again the next day. My dad believes he has done the coffee shop a generous favor. I imagine Joe's Coffee Shop & Espresso in Payson thinks otherwise.

Once fully caffeinated, my father can enjoy a stroll through Costco. In a one-week visit, we expect to visit Costco five times. It's only the fifth visit that actually results in a purchase: a half-cart full of odd requests from friends in Venezuela--ipods, Country Crock spread (I'm not kidding), Ben Gay ointment, and giant bags of M & Ms--and a half-cart of socks and underwear for my dad. I have never known anyone so obsessed with socks and underwear. When Alejandra, Andrea, and I were little, we repeatedly asked why we had to have so many pairs of underwear, to which my dad replied that a "good wardrobe begins with good underwear" (as you say this in your head, use a slight Spanish accent for full effect). When I was 13, I counted over 75 pairs of underwear in my drawer. I bet my dad devotes an entire third of his walk-in closet to underwear.

But the real purpose of my father's visits is to bond with his grandchildren (whom he calls nephews in a failed effort to feel younger) and teach them great life lessons, like how to take the wrapper off a straw and make a spit-wad out of it. But to his dismay, his grandkids haven't figured out when it is appropriate to fire off spit-wads into the unsuspecting laps of fellow restaurant patrons (which apparently is only when my dad initiates it) and when it is inappropriate (which is when my dad might be embarrassed). Then my dad resorts to his signature crooked-eye-glare of my childhood nightmares--a look that says, "If you want to live to see another day, you better stop that right now" (again, with a Spanish accent). But this is not the way to toddler boys' hearts. So during this most recent visit, he got wise--he offered one Hot Wheels car for every episode of obedience. Alejandra's oldest now refuses to do anything if there isn't a set of wheels in store, and the grandchildren suddenly seem genuinely interested in becoming their Abuelo's best friend. They even sat pretty still for a picture (worth one Hot Wheels car per kid):

Papi, los nietos sobrinos miss you. Can't wait to see you again in a few months--bring lots of cars.


  1. he sounds great! i'm sure you all love having him around.

  2. It sounds like your dad and I would get along really well what with all that Costco shopping. Andrew would particularly love him.

    You and your sisters are so beautiful!

  3. You're not making fun of people who go to Costco 5 times in a week, are you? 'Cause that just ain't right. Of course, I get my caffeine right there, Hello, 55 cents Coca-cola, baby. So I am, truly, a one-stop shopper.

    My m-i-l is obsessed with socks too. Maybe it's an age thing?

  4. It's fun to put a face to all the stories you have told us in college about your dad. It is so weird to see your sisters with kids!!