My husband and I typically spend a few hours each weekend with my in-laws. It’s then that I learn more about them as individuals – especially my father-in-law, Bill.
To first meet Bill, one finds a mild-mannered octogenarian, who is happy spending his time visiting friends, sketching landscapes using colored pencils, or puttering around his garden or basement workshop. And as a Korean War veteran, he's heard his fair share of jokes while serving in the military. Bill loves sharing them with an appreciative audience – namely me.
As a daughter-in-law, I get to see and hear a lot more than I bargained for I’m fortunate enough to hear his remarks on certain subjects and his amusing wisecracks or viewpoints on life in general. It always makes me chuckle to hear this unassuming man toss out deadpan one-liners.
For example, when we spent a weekend visiting St. Louis together, Bill smartly advised us in the hotel lobby that we shouldn’t lose our room key. “Man who lose key get no new key,” he warned with a wink.
And it was while we were dining out that another one of Bill’s zingers appeared out of nowhere.
Recently on a cold, rainy afternoon we ducked into a seafood restaurant with my in-laws. All was going well with our service until Bill realized the sea scallops he ordered didn’t arrive with the rest of his entrée. He motioned for the server, who immediately set off to rectify the situation.
Shortly afterwards, the manager approached our table. She was a pretty blonde and quite flirtatious. Her bubbly personality and can-do attitude quickly caught the attention of my father-in-law.
She crouched down next to Bill, pushed her lips out in a pouty manner, literally batted her lashes and asked him if there’s anything she could do to make his day better.
Ugh. She was sickeningly sweet, if you asked me.
My father-in-law gazed at the young lady and was busy turning all sorts of ideas over in his head, while I sat there and rolled my eyes. He patted the young lady’s hand with a full grin on his face. “That’s okay, dear,” he replied. “I have everything I need and you’ve done a wonderful job.”
Meanwhile, my husband chirped in with his own request. “Can we get a discount on our bill?” he asked hopefully. Again, another eye roll on my part.
“Certainly,” the manager agreed. She tucked the dinner bill inside its vinyl portfolio back under her arm and left to attend to other patrons.
“That girl would do well in a jeep full of soldiers,” Bill speculated out loud as she walked away.
By this time, I let my eyes stare directly back at him, while shaking my head. There was no end to the statements that came out of his mouth that evening. We only hoped the other diners didn’t overhear.
Plus, I couldn’t believe my husband had the gall to ask for a deal. But at times his chutzpah does impress me. The lovely young woman returned and handed us a bill, reduced by 20%. Hot dog! Shame on me for not liking her earlier.
“Have a wonderful weekend,” she wished all of us. We bid her the same and left a generous tip.
Scooping up our raincoats along with the containers of leftovers, we walked out of the restaurant together, arm-in-arm with a well-fed, starry-eyed veteran who was lost in his own dreamy thoughts.