I took my dad out shopping for my mom’s Christmas gift the other day. A few strange things happened while we were shopping. First, my dad paid with a credit card which he never does. He pays for everything with cash. It doesn’t matter what he is buying, it could be a candy bar or a diamond ring and he would pay with cash. He uses plastic so infrequently that when he does use it he usually ends up leaving the card in the machine. My husband and I were both standing there with him as he pulled out a wad of cash with the small blue card in between. He hesitated for a second as my husband and I stood with our jaws on the floor. I watched him calculating the number of days until Christmas and determining if he would be able to get to the bank where the nice ladies supplied him with crisp hundred dollar bills, before he finally handed the card over to the cashier who was looking a little confused as to what all the fuss was about. He didn’t know that this event was similar to watching a gorilla use tools for the first time.

As we completed our purchase the salesman shook hands with me and my husband and grabbed my dad in a big bear hug. Maybe he did understand what a monumental event this was after all. Or maybe he realized that he was in fact meeting santa claus. Or maybe he was just so relieved that this transaction was finally complete that he had to hold onto someone for a second. We went on our merry way to complete our shopping, as my dad tucked the little piece of plastic into a different pocket, making sure it didn’t make an appearance again.

Normally it takes about a half day to buy my mom’s gifts with my dad, but this day was different. We were finished with our shopping in record time. I’m not sure if it was the trauma my dad incurred from pulling out that little blue card or if he was excited to pick up his granddaughter from school, but we were out of the mall parking lot quicker than the old folks leaving church on their way to brunch so we decided to drop my husband off at home before picking my daughter up from school. This is where the other strange thing occurred.

We pulled into the driveway to drop off my husband and I jumped out of the car to go refill my glass of water. While I was in the house the UPS man pulled up with a package. Instead of leaving it at the door he walked up and tapped on the window of the car where my dad was sitting and gave it to him. When I returned from the house I found my dad sitting in the car with the package. I promptly opened the box to find a gift for my husband and a little sample of lotion inside. I ran back into the garage to throw the box in the recycling bin as I handed the little packet to my dad and told him to rub it on his face. My Dad has been suffering from terrible dry skin over the past several weeks. Both my mom and I have been slathering his face with lotion every chance we get. As he rubbed the lotion from the little sample packet into his skin he said to me “I don’t know what the dry skin is from, I’ve been getting it ever since I had the syphilis.” I’m glad we were parked or I would have crashed my car. I think what he meant to say was diverticulitis. He spent two separate weekends in the hospital last August with a kidney stone and diverticulitis. Or maybe he thought he had psoriasis. Either way, the word he was looking for was definitely not syphilis.

Even after a twenty minute interrogation I was unable to determine what he thinks his condition is and where he got it. My mom thinks it’s from getting in the hot tub late at night and the steam getting all over his face. I’ll have to remember to make sure their hot tub isn’t infested with hookers like in that Rodney Dangerfield movie where he goes back to college with his son. That could explain why my dad thinks his dry skin is caused by a venereal disease. I’m glad we were parked in line to pick up my daughter when he turned and said “well if it’s syphilis, your mom must have given it to me. She’s always talking about her back-up plan guys on TV when I die.”