Rule #91: Rent an Old Geezer for the Holidays

in Rules of Parenting

grandpa wearing gloves

Did you really think these No-Grope Gloves could stop 95 years of tradition and primal instinct?

It’s time. Your children have gone long enough without a traditional Christmas grandparent.

They need to experience a Werther’s butterscotch moment with someone who’s really old and wearing a snowflake-embroidered, cuddly sweater laced with the scent of pine needles and wood smoke.

The only problem is that your dad ran off in 1986 with a cocktail waitress from Lubbock. It shocked everyone, but it happened.

Improbable as it was, your old man had taken a community-college literature class and read Kerouac for the first time at age 55. He also drank his first martini and grew a goatee that looked like a small marsupial was humping his chin.

No matter. One night, the cocktail waitress, who was 20 years your dad’s junior, recognized an easy catch from across the counter. She began to coax his nether region into a slow last call that would test the limits of her libidinous patience but not the limits of her desire for steady cash flow.

You last heard from dear old dad in 1990, when he wanted you to mail his Playboy beer stein collection to a P.O. box in Reno.

This year is different. You’ve watched one too many Hallmark Hall of Fame movies, where granddads stroke their chins and impart wise words and song to small children. And the children eat it up like hungry little winter starlings. It’s glorious and heartfelt and warm.

Your children, of course, don’t know they’re hungry little starlings, so they don’t know what they’re missing. But you do. That’s why it’s important this holiday season to rent a geezer to do what your father never could: don the cuddly winter-themed sweater and serve as a surrogate grandparent for your children on Christmas day.

Getting a geezer isn’t as challenging as you might think. With fixed incomes, many are looking to earn a few bucks to offset their breakfast-buffet habit. Once you land one—no need to be terribly picky, as long as he doesn’t have a Viagra addiction—the task of introducing him to your children doesn’t have to be tough:

You (leading your rented geezer into your living room by his wrist): “Bethany and Todd, look who I found wandering on our sidewalk—grandpa!”

Bethany: “But you said grandpa was chasing skirts in the desert and likely eaten by rattlers by now.”

You: “Oh, Bethany, I was making that up. You know how mommy likes to tell crazy stories.”

Todd: “But why is that old man touching you there, mommy?”

You (lifting the rent-a-geezer’s hand off your left flank): “Grandpa gets confused between my hand and my bottom, Todd. He doesn’t see so well any longer. Listen, grandpa is going to spend Christmas with us. Isn’t that great? He’s going to change out of his NASCAR windbreaker and put on this wonderful JC Penney sweater I bought him, aren’t you dad?”

Old Guy: “Sure, honey.”

You (lifting the rent-a-geezer’s hand off your right flank): “Grandpa is still confused by things around here, so he’s trying to feel his way through the dark, I guess. Listen, you kids go get your pajamas on, and grandpa is going to read some bedtime stories and maybe tell you some things about Christmas when mommy was a little girl.”

Old Guy: “You want to climb down my chimney, honey?”

Bethany: “What did grandpa say, mommy?”

You: “Nothing, sweetie. Actually, tell you what—mommy is going to run out to the pharmacy with grandpa to see if he left something there. I may come back with another grandpa just to see if you kids can keep up. Doesn’t that sound like fun?”

Old Guy: “Pharmacy, honey? Are you wearing the nurse costume or am I?”

Todd: “Mommy?”

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