Archive for Wednesday, February 28, 2001

My ‘sport’ with dad is shopping

February 28, 2001

My dad and I were never very good at games such as catch or horse or hobbies like fishing. We were each talented in our own rights when the time came to throw a fastball, shoot a jumper, or cast a plug. The problem was that we weren't good at doing these quintessential father son activities together. I sabotaged our games of catch by returning my dad's fireballs with equally powerful throws over the neighbor's fence, into the gutter, sewer, or Kansas River, but never into his mitt. There are some heartwarming pictures of dad and I playing basketball, unfortunately I am about four in all of the pictures. Once I learned that I could score a point by elbowing my father in the nose and running down the court as he dizzied around the driveway, our hoop days ended.

Instead of lamenting over our lack of father and son activities, we came up with our own bonding experience. We go grocery shopping together. This Saturday afternoon activity took on a culture of its own, as dad and I tore coupons and plotted the most efficient routes through the various aisles. By the time we return home, we come bearing not only the listed items but also sacks filled with random items that could in no way end up as part of a complete meal.

Last weekend I went grocery shopping with my dad. It was the first time in a long while that he and I were able to join forces. I'd been busy with school and he'd gotten used to walking the aisles alone. But last Saturday, when we entered the store as father and son, dad walked with a prideful step, and explained all the things that I'd missed since the last time we shopped together. Organic food, a new salad bar, new sprinkler heads to mist the produce, the list went on. He led me around the store, before we even unfolded the list, and re-familiarized me with the battleground, the way a coach might introduce his players to the lay of the diamond or the sound of an away crowd.

The store employees waved and spoke to my father, they told him of sales and new items. He introduced me as if I was next in line to some elusive grocery-shopping crown. I realized that dad had become a regular at a place that isn't widely viewed to produce regulars. A bar or athletic club or restaurant maybe, but not a grocery store.

Shopping alongside such a popular, knowledgeable guy (he knew what time certain loaves came out of the oven) was humbling and it reinvigorated my love for our game. Our hobby was back and better than ever. I was as comfortable as ever, with the fact that we weren't spending that Saturday afternoon playing horse at the park. We didn't need hook shots. We had double coupons and table after table of samples.

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