Emmaville Store, circa 1969

Friday, July 11, 2014

GF: One Man's Story

They wander into the Emmaville Store glassy-eyed and exhausted. Gathering around the table with their coffee cups, they begin commiserating.  Joe's screen door is broken again.  Bill's beer fridge, so carefully stocked during last month's craft brewery tour, is all but empty.  The custom reupholstered bench seats in Fred's '96 Smokercraft have grape juice stains all over them.  Hank's pickup is half full of dirty diapers, making this week's dump run especially urgent. He gulps down the bottom half of his cup and heads for the door.  The rest stare into their coffee cups, mumbling about the effects of parked minivans on lawns.....

These men are suffering from a common seasonal malady: Grandpa Fatigue, or GF.  It seems to strike men with a unique profile:  retired, married for at least 30 years, pontoon owners*, who respond to names like Bumpa, G-Dad, and Poppa, especially if repeated several times by a small child. The phenomenon typically appears the first weekend in June after the school year, peaks around the 4th of July, and subsides through August. A recurrence sometimes is evident during Labor Day weekend, depending on weather conditions.

The symptoms are easily identified:  hand cramps from untangling fishing line, dark circles under the eyes consistent with insomnia caused by cranky babies or squealing little girls, and frequent trips to the store for boat gas.  Treatment options are limited, although over-the-counter remedies such as Dewars, Tanqueray, and Absolut may provide temporary relief.

In spite of exposure to the same environmental factors, most women do not appear to be affected by GF. Preliminary studies point to stronger immunity factors, such as the ability to bake cookies, kiss booboos, and tolerate annoying sons-in-law.
*Similarities to the profile of Cialis users is thought to be coincidental.

Back to our story:

As Hank leaves, he nearly runs into Dave, who seems to have a bounce in his step.  In response to his cheery "morning guys!", the men around the table only grumble.  

Dave, pouring himself a cup of coffee, asks, "rough weekend?"  A few heads nod. 

Dave sits down and says, "well, I'll tell ya, mine was no picnic. Especially the picnic part."  

At that, Bill looks up, "you went on a picnic?"

Leaning back, Dave gets comfortable before responding."Yeah, my wife got the brilliant idea to take everybody to Itasca Park yesterday. Just about killed me."

"What happened?" asks Joe.  All the guys are now listening intently.

"Well, my daughter Judy insisted we all stand on the rocks at the Headwaters to take a family picture. So she hands her camera to the park ranger - nice looking gal - anyway, the place was busy as hell and the deerflies were awful.  People were waiting in line to cross the Mississippi, and here we are out there trying to get organized, and -" 

Dave is interrupted by Joe, who says to no one in particular: "did you know they hauled those rocks in and cemented them in place?"

"Everybody knows that," Fred growls at Joe and then turns his attention back to Dave.

"Anyway," Dave continues, "this big guy wearing a t-shirt with skulls on it starts yelling at us to hurry up.  Of course, my son-in-law Jake has to -"

"Is Jake the skinny one with all the tattoos?" interrupts Fred.

"Yeah, that's the one," Dave continues, "so he gets into it with the skull guy.  Meanwhile, my grandson Henry slips and falls in and Judy starts screaming hysterically. I told her 'calm down, the water is only a foot deep,' and reached down and dragged Henry out.  Just as I try to stand up again, I feel my back go out."

As his friends groan in sympathy, Dave shakes his head, then continues:  "about that time, Lydia, Henry's little sister, gets bit by a deerfly and she starts crying. My wife attempts to comfort her by licking her fingers and rubbing on the bite. Then Judy starts in on her mother about contaminating the wound and how this is the 21st century where we don't use spit and on and on."

Joe says, "shoulda put ice on it."

Fred, glaring at Joe, responds, "they're standing in a river. Where they gonna get ice?"

Joe shrugs and says, "I'm sure somebody around there had a slurpie or something."

Dave, ignoring the debate, continues:  "and that's when I got knocked in the water by Jake."

Bill, still paying attention to Dave, asks "what did he do that for?"

Dave shrugs: "the skull guy pushed him into me, and I went into the lake."

"It's deeper on the lake side, isn't it?" asks Joe.

Fred says, "jeez. What a circus." 

Dave then leans in, looking sharply at Joe: "yes it is deeper, and I couldn't stand up because of my back."

"So what did you do?" asked an incredulous Bill.

Dave continued: "I had all I could do to keep my head above water and try to get their attention. But Judy was still arguing with her mom, Lydia's still hysterical, Henry's laughing and saying "grandpa's turn", and Jake and the skull guy are being separated by the park ranger."

"Who got you out?" asked Bill.

Dave shrugged again and said, "a couple of German bicyclists waded in, spandex and all, and grabbed me."

The men fell silent, shaking their heads.

Having finished his story, Dave jumped up, cheery again, and said, "well, I gotta go."

Bill looked at his friend quizzically, "you seem to be in a pretty good mood, considering what you went through."

Dave smiled and said, "yeah, well, my company all left this morning."