Uppermost House: Clothes shopping on the run

PeterLewisTreehouseCMYKBy S. Peter Lewis

BN Columnist

I woke just after dawn one morning a couple of weeks ago and peeked into my daughter’s room to find an amorphous, Amanda-shaped lump under the distant covers. With great stealth, I tip-toed over the many discarded piles of college droppings to get to the bed, and after I determined, which end of the lump encased the head, I bent over quietly and brushed back the dark auburn hair and lightly kissed the first ear that I found. “I’m glad you’re home safe, darling,” I whispered into said ear. Amanda rustled ever-so-slightly and then let out a tiny happy little squeak.

Quietly down the stairs and into the dining room and through the kitchen and strewn everywhere out into the mudroom, I found more evidence of her obvious nocturnal return — part of the annual spring migration from the south that has been going on for three years now and which results in instantaneous clutter in our otherwise tidy home. Amanda is like a monarch butterfly, but with more baggage.

It’s 985 miles from Amanda’s college in western Virginia to our home, which normally takes a cool 18 hours by car, unless of course they’re ripping up the highway around Scranton, Pa., and, of course they’re always ripping up the highway around Scranton, Pa., which means the trip takes longer…so anyway, we knew she’d be on the road for a long time and it was wonderful now (and a parental relief) to see that she was out from behind the wheel and underneath blankets — where as it turned out she would stay for the next 14 hours.

A few days later, Amanda dropped by my office after work and the aging jock and the youthful jock went for a trail run together. The girl’s college major is exercise science (which means she gets credits to train) and that puts her dad at a distinct disadvantage, since the only credit he gets for beating himself up aerobically on a nearly daily basis is the yearly trite Christmas card from the CEO of the company that manufactures ibuprofen.

So off we went on one of my favorite loops up through the Green Hills Preserve, darting about rocks and hopping logs and leaping small streams along several miles of perfect single-track trail. Up and down and then way more up and up and up at which point the girl finally called from behind, “Okay…time…out…I…gotta…walk…for…a…bit.” To which her dad replied (running in place and all puffed up with his own aerobic capacity), “Oh, wow, I didn’t know you had wimp-induced asthma. Ha, ha, ha.” To which the daughter shot back some snarky remark, which the dad couldn’t quite make out but may have had something to do with mandatory steroid testing for sarcastic fathers.

Soon, we crested and then it was all downhill cruising through lovely forest and our pulse rates dropped down to something more in line with what you’d expect to see in someone being rushed to the emergency room for a panic attack. The banter picked back up and we had just the most delightful daughter/dad conversation involving being proud of each other and what have we both been doing for the last few months and we’re so happy to be back together again and isn’t it great that we can still do this kind of thing with each other even though one of us (the faster one, as it turns out) is edging toward knee replacement and anecdotage.

As we neared the car, running side-by-side now down an old double-rutted dirt road, I spotted a piece of discarded apparel in the roadway up ahead and made some kind of opportunistic comment about whatever-it-was might be my size. Knowing my penchant for this sort of serendipitous clothes shopping, the girl scolded me between breaths. “No…You’re not doing that…plus…dude…it’s just one…sock.” And so we ran past, one of us sadly.

Imagine that, after spending only sixty-grand for higher education (and she’s not even done yet), the daughter is already smarter than the dad.

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