Let me tell you about Bob.
But first you need some background so I’m gonna rewind.
My parents got divorced when I was in college. It was both painful and a relief at the same time. If you are older when your parents divorce, it’s harder to not get sucked into taking sides, seeing ugly things and just overall, being aware. With that awareness comes the notion that you are going to have to mentally prepare for your parents to move on. So it wasn’t surprising when it happened, but there’s always a little weirdness and awkwardness with the idea at first, when all you know is your parents as a unit for 20 years of your life.
So…cut to my mom telling me she wants me to meet Bob. It’s time. I knew she had been exclusively dating him. I knew it was serious. And I knew they had a long history. That’s right folks, my mom married her high school (barely – I’m talking like 9th grade) sweetheart. He was still living in East Hampton and she in Aventura, when they reconnected on Classmates.com. True baby boomer social media madness. They’re such trend setters!
They talked on the phone for HOURS. They rehashed memories, traded divorce war stories, gushed about their awesome kids…like all the time (I’m using creative license here but it’s probably true), and in many ways picked up right where they left off.
Bob would come into town every couple of weeks for several days at a time and set up camp at their favorite spot – The Westin Diplomat. They would literally have mini vacations every couple of weeks. So during one of those jaunts, I met them for lunch. I walked into The Dip, equal parts nervous and excited. I sat across from the two of them and they were just too effing cute. Affectionate but not overly (except for the fact that he cut her meat for her – relax, that trend lasted about 5 mins), totally natural and really REALLY good together. They even got married there. Just the two of them, my gram and the impossibly tan rabbi who did my brother’s bar mitzvah after HebrewSchool-Gate.
My mother met her match. They are both creatures of habit. Both neat freaks. Love to eat. Impossibly thick New York accents. I knew it was beshert when they were married and moved to a condo in Aventura and did NOT put a toilet paper holder in the master bath. Nope. Bob built a holder into one of the drawers so that the TP is out of the public eye…because god forbid it be in plain sight. No clutter. Just how they like it. It’s almost a fun little game to send a newbie in there and wait to see how long it takes them to figure it out.
As a matter of fact, Bob pretty much gutted the entire place and redid it. And I don’t mean he paid people to do it. While he did have help, he did the work himself…with his own hands. Obviously he’s not Jewish like us. Although, within months, my mom had him spitting out Yiddish words like a boss. He’s one of us now. The fact that they eat dinner before 5pm most nights also made him an honorary member of the Tribe.
Hopefully, his newfound proficiency in Yiddish eased the loss of his mustache that my mom put the kibosh on (he had it most of his life) and the little piece of his sanity that went with it.
I hit the jackpot with this one. He adores my mother. Treats my brother and I no different than his own flesh and blood. Shares my love of red wine, mostly malbec. He was a marine, which trained him well for marriage because he literally knows how to pick and choose his battles. This isn’t the only job that prepared him for wedded bliss. One day, when my mother was being particularly Greenberg-ish (her maiden name), I looked and asked him where he drew his patience from and how he stayed so calm. And he said, “Oh, I was a special education teacher for more than 10 years.”
Not a Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day or Birthday has gone by in the several years he and my mom have been married that I have not gotten flowers, chocolate and other gifts. And whereas the wife is usually the one nagging the husband relentlessly to remember holidays and send stuff, he does it of his own volition before my mom even has a chance or knows about it! He and my daughter have a bond that is unreal. From the second he walked into my Boston hospital room with a David Yurman baby bracelet and Ralph Lauren onesie with matching booties and hat (all him), he was smitten with her. And she is enamored with him.
And the man can fix anything. He’s like a Long Island Macgyver. Since I have moved back to Florida, I have yet to live in a place (and I’m on my third) where he hasn’t come in to hang stuff, make repairs, and install things I would have never thought of. I don’t even have to pay him in money. He accepts meatballs – but just mine because they’re his fave.
Usually, if there’s an invitation to come over for meatballs he knows instinctively to bring his tool belt. It’s like an unspoken thing between us. An arrangement of sorts – maintenance for meatballs. Win Win.
If you don’t get along with him well, then you are just an asshole. He is the nicest, most chivalrous man on the planet. You know how they say bees can smell fear (and by “they” I mean the adorable, coke-bottle glasses wearing kid from Jerry Maguire – I don’t know if it’s a thing but it works for this analogy so I’m going with it). The same way the little insects are a barometer for fear, your ability to get along with Bob is directly correlated to your level of doucheiness – a douche-doppler of sorts.
Your parents are always your parents, married or not. But if they divorce and remarry, not everyone gets so lucky with the dynamic and relationship a new marriage brings. But we sure as shit did. So with Father’s Day approaching I want to tell Bob (aka Paca as per Ava’s name given to him when she couldn’t say Grandpa as a baby) that we love you so much and are lucky to have you today and everyday.