Andy’s Chinese-American father is a bored retired civil engineer. He has far too much time on his hands and his only interests are his sons and on-line video poker. He’s also got the patience of a toddler. When Jay wants something, he wants it NOW.
The man called every week after we got married, demanding a grandson. Not a grandchild, mind you. No, Jay wanted a number one son from his number one son. And he wanted it yesterday.
About the time I was ready to tell the
misogynist patriarch fuck off, Andy told Jay we were buying a new house.
Jay demanded pictures. I e-mailed the photos I’d already sent to my family.
Jay had a problem downloading them. I emailed them again. He called and complained that he couldn’t see the pictures. I then emailed those photos in every different permutation known to cyberspace: as attachments, inserted in the email, one picture per email, multiple pictures in each email, single jpeg files, bit.map files, and tiff files, PDF files, etc. To no avail. Jay insisted that the pictures would not appear on his screen.
Now, none of the thirty other relatives I sent these pictures to had a problem viewing them (or, alternatively, could not have cared less what our new house looks like and never bothered to download the photos).
Andy spent several hours on the phone with Jay, acting as a patient computer help desk technician. The photos remained elusive. (I suspected the computer’s memory was full — full of porn.) Jay hung up in disgust.
The next morning I sent Jay a link to our very accommodating realtor’s website that contained pictures of the house. That didn’t work either. Jay called again to complain. Alas! We weren’t home. Jay left messages on Andy’s cell phone, pager, and work phone.
We didn’t call back within five minutes, which of course meant that Jay called Andy’s brother Denny (on Denny’s home phone, cell phone, and work phone). Jay instructed Denny to find us and tell us to call Jay about this emergency. Never mind that Denny lived five hundred miles away from us. Dennis obligingly left messages and e-mails everywhere we could possibly be reached. After an eternity passed (i.e., ten whole minutes), Jay’s patience eroded.
Jay called his daughter (who lives 2,000 miles away from us) and told her that she must get in touch with us. Andy and I returned from the escrow company to find a total of twelve messages, pages, and e-mails on all the modern communication devices we have, telling Andy to call home. I was sure someone had died (since it would take an event of this scale to motivate more than two of my family members to call me). I urged Andy to call his father immediately. Andy rolled his eyes and got a beer. He knew better.
Jay called again. I let Andy answer. Big mistake. Andy promised to send his father physical photos the very next day. By priority mail.
Which meant that I was the one standing in line at Costco and the post office the following day. Hours later, the pictures were on their way to Hawaii.
The phone interrupted dinner that evening. It was Jay, of course, wanting to know if I sent the pictures. I assured Jay that I did. He wanted proof. I gritted my teeth, dug up the tracking number, gave it to him, and returned to the dinner table.
“So much for a hot dinner,” I grumbled to Andy.
He patted my hand. “Sorry, honey. But look on the bright side. At least now he’s not yelling, ‘Where’s my grandson?’ when he calls.”
The comfort was as cold as my food.