Wednesday, July 1, 2009


The other night I asked my mother to give Bar Mitzvahzilla a ride home from a restaurant where he'd gone to dinner with my sister's family and my mother and stepfather since it was on their way home. Hours later he finally got home.

You know on Christmas Eve when the TV stations run those updates showing the Santa Claus radar tracking maps, with frequent news reports on Rudolph and Santa's progress throughout the world, the radar blipping as they go? That's what it was like trying to get Bar Mitzvahzilla home that night.

We had assumed my 79-year-old mother would be driving. With her lead foot, we expected him home fast. But it turned out that my 84-year-old stepfather was driving the car, which meant that it would take at least a half hour to back out of the parking spot at the restaurant. The left turn out of the parking lot, with cars whizzing by, that could take another hour, until he was sure it was safe to proceed. Sometimes the best driver in the car is the 13-year-old, and he doesn't even know how to drive.

Then my stepfather decided he needed to make a quick stop at Home Depot for some nails. Right before closing on a Sunday night.

Putting my 84-year-old stepfather in a 50,000 square foot Home Depot looking for nails is kind of a multi-year task. He gets distracted easily. He walks slowly. Proud, he won't ask for help. The combination of my stepfather plus Home Depot can result in only one possible outcome: Lost Forever. Send out the search and rescue teams, issue the emergency response system bulletin. Grandpa is heading into Home Depot and he may never be seen again.

Bar Mitzvahzilla, meanwhile, was enjoying sitting in a car in the 111 degree Arizona heat with his grandmother, listening to her mutter darkly about grandpa's whereabouts. The text messages I received reflect that he may have been kidnapped - there was one "Help" and one "S.O.S." But then my mother decided to take some action. She was going in the store to find my stepfather.

By that time, I was seriously considering whether Husband and I should do a swoop-in mission to rescue Bar Mitzvahzilla. After all, he was heading into the black hole of Home Depot with my mother to look for my stepfather. I could find him in there ten years from now, living happily with a wife and children in a garden shed. But there was no chance to consider this. His call crackled as he entered the store yanked along by my mother on the warpath. I could hear her yelling at me next to him, "You tell your mother that I lived in the forest during the war. I can find your grandfather!"

Turns out they found him easily. Bar Mitzvahzilla said he was heading to the self-checkout with a package of nails in his hand when my mother cornered him, her voice ringing out across the store, "What's the matter? You forgot about us?" Of course, being just about deaf, he couldn't hear her, but everyone else could.

He proceeded calmly to use the self-checkout, which meant he soon disabled the register, and then, when an employee came over to help, my mother got some real enjoyment. She told the employee that she knew she'd find her husband in there because she had lived in the forest during the war and you don't know lost until you're running from the Nazis in the forest. And on top of it, she's the mother of seven daughters and you don't know how many things seven daughters can lose.

My son said that the employee didn't exactly know what to say to this. He thanked them for their purchase and they left, the manager locking the door behind them.