The Shoe Salesman Son

“I used to dress like you,” the dapper seventeen-year-old shoe salesman says at the Nordstrom, located in The Westchester in White Plains, NY. Baby Boomer.

             Grandpa replies, “Actually, that’s why I’m here. I live in Scottsdale, Arizona, now, with my wife.

            “I don’t mind the heat. Plus, everything is very causal in Arizona, so I never feel compelled to dress up anymore, either—which includes my wife, too. She didn’t even bother brushing her teeth the one time we had a whole year to get ready for our first Skype call with our granddaughter, back east.   I could literally see my wife’s Dunkin Donut’s breath fog up the screen during our chat. Me, I’m still sporting the same pair of ashy tennis slacks from ’86, according to my firstborn. What’s the point in dressing up fancy anymore, unless we’re going out to dine out in Arizona for Italian and pretend the food is barely edible, again (compared to our old haunt off the Grand Course in the Bronx, which served the best veal-stuffed with prosciutto in a white wine, mushroom sauce ever.

            “Now my wife insists she’ll let me die alone in the August Arizona sun if I don’t stop dressing like a baby boomer bum. It’s bad enough how my firstborn calls me a fake news hippie for never visiting the Grand Canyon after living in Arizona for nine years, despite my Bob Dylan collection being more eclectic than most.”

            The Nordstrom Shoe Salesman Son says, “I actually prefer Dylan’s later work on the Tempest, Soon After Midnight, Pay In Blood, Long and Wasted Years, and Roll On John. Forget about it; it deserved all five stars it got in Rolling Stone. Modern Times wasn’t chopped liver, either, Working Man Blues chokes me up a little inside because it makes me think of my dear Dada every time. I never outgrew calling him Dada, despite being seventeen, already.”

            Baby Boomer Grandpa says, “My dad never bonded with me over Bob Dylan. He just called me an idiot for struggling with pre-calculus more than my brainer Jewish friends who attended Bronx Science.”

            The Shoe Salesman Son says, “My Dada jammed all the Bob Dylan folklore down my throat ad-nauseum. Bob Dylan was a member of the Latin club in high school. He’s an amateur boxer who has a huge mural in his Malibu estate of Jerry Garcia to prove that jam bands matter.

            “The Grateful Dead did a killer version of ‘Visions Of Johana’ in addition to refusing Bob Dylan’s offer to join the band. Allowing Dylan to tour with them as the opening act after recording an album called Dylan and The Dead wasn’t enough for Robert Zimmerman from Minnesota because baby boomer arrogance never dies. Got it, Dada?”

            Baby Boomer Grandpa says, “I never got into the Grateful Dead, personally, although seeing them perform with the Allman Brothers and The Band at Watkins Glen would’ve been worth the trip on bad acid, for it.”

            Shoe Salesman Son says, “So, tell me why your wife is a chronic pain in the ass, again?       “Refusing to dress up for her, these days, makes me think that you’re trying to get back at her for hogging the blankets for the past fifty years, or for playing slovenly favorites with your two kids (I’m assuming—you tell me).

            “I just want to know why dressing you’re up for your golden years, free of financial worry or any nagging subconscious desire to reconnect with your sons on a deeper, more meaningful level. Besides trying to convince your firstborn why Lebron is a greater player than Michael Jordan; despite King of the Persecution Complex never playing with a broken back like Larry Legend when he beat Magic’s Lakers, with mind melding behind the back passes and consistent clutch jump shots which were never looked like line drive chucks, either.”

            Baby Boomer Grandpa says, “It’s not as if my wife is spending hours getting lost at the local Sephora store to stock up on new makeup items, either.

            “But, if I’m honest with myself, the real reason I’m not dressing up anymore, these days, is because I’m an old Jew who only got dressed up in the past for synagogue or work because I had to. “Granted, wearing nice suits to work when I used to work as VP of sales for a packaging company in New Jersey made me feel like hot shit, but that was the eighties, before Steve Jobs started rocking the Grandma Jean, casual Friday look.

            “I think the Beatles are vastly overrated, too; especially compared to the Rolling Stones. Name one rocker by the Beatles which would make your life feel complete if you got to hear the song in person in the sixties—assuming it never got loud enough for The Fab Four to hear their own voices singing. 

            “Yeah, that’s what I thought. And Ferris Bueller singing ‘Twist and Shout’ on a float in the Loop of downtown Chicago doesn’t count, either.”

            Shoe Salesman Son says, “My Dear Dada was always more of a John Lennon fan, ‘Watching The Wheels’ and ‘Working-Class Hero’ being his most liked songs by the Liverpool Lip when he used to look after me during my younger stay-at-home pre-k years.”

            Baby Boomer Grandpa says, “I never bonded over rock and roll with my dad. I did get my firstborn into Dylan, though. He even bought us tickets to see Levon Helm, part-time singer and drummer from The Band, at one of his midnight rambles in Woodstock, once.

            I’m positive my son snuck off into the woods to puff a one-hitter, too. It’s better than doing more blow and only hearing the last call from the bathroom stall, like my youngest.”

             Shoe Salesman Son says, “Have you gone to any rock concerts together with your firstborn  since?”

            Baby Boomer Grandpa says, “None. I took him to an Arizona Diamondbacks game in Phoenix, once. He talked up a storm, as usual, with a long-haired lawyer next to us who came from money, I think. I recall the lawyer going out of his way to tell me what an impressive brain my son had. And I thought that my acid usage in college resulted in more synapse incineration deterioration than others!

            “Starting that Bob Dylan record review club with my firstborn Joshua wasn’t the worst idea he came up with, either. I should call him now, don’t you think?”

            Shoe Salesman Son says, “Sure, unless you want to die a distant father with an aching gash that feels like a corkscrew in your heart.

            “Bob Dylan lives, thank you very much. My Dada is no longer a stay-at-home dad, but a big-time comedian now. That’s the catchphrase he uses on his Do It All Dad Year Podcast and on stage during his residency in Vegas, now, too.    “Dada told me if college doesn’t interest me, I could always stay home longer, but get a sales job that offered a commission so I’d understand the empowering, momentous surge derived from incentivized, performance-based jobs which make you feel on top the world in charge again.”

            Baby Boomer Grandpa says, “Give me two pairs of those Echo shoes, one in navy and one white, size eight. Those hipster kicks should tone done my wife’s bitching, for a bit.

            “Thanks for pressing me to reconnect with my firstborn on a deeper, long lasting level, this time around. He’s still trying to make it as a writer. Who knows—maybe we can write a book together called ‘Bonding Through Writing Dylan Record Reviews With Dad.’

            “What, only Bob Dylan is allowed to be a wordy Jew?”

Michael Kornbluth

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