Regular readers of Easy Fiend may know that I always had a peculiar relationship with my ex-wife's father, Paul. Basically, I spent 17 years trying to form a bond and impress him and he spent 17 years being seemingly unimpressed. Yes, we had our moments, but he's a tough nut to crack and I'm not much of a nut cracker.
Last weekend was my daughter's birthday party. Sandie organized it. (We're switching off year-to-year. Next birthday party: Clown Strippers.) I was nervous to say the least. It would be the longest I'd spent around my ex since I left the house and, just to make it all the more joyous, her parents would be there. That would, of course, include Paul.
In the weeks leading up to the party, I planned what I would say to Paul. I would be clever, dismissive. My cutting, Algonquin Round Table-style witticisms would say, "I no longer need to impress you, ex-Father-in-law, and frankly, that's just fine by me."
When we arrived, Paul was sitting against the wall, looking lost. I don't know why it never occurred to me before, but Paul is probably a pretty shy guy when not in his element. Before I could prepare my first barb, I marched up to him, shook his hand warmly and told him I was happy he could make it. A few minutes later, after making the rounds, I approached him again at the snack table. Over raw broccoli and fruit kabobs, we discussed the progress of the golf team he coaches. Although, at times, it feels like he's only said three dozen words to me in the last two decades, I listened intently to those 36 words and was more than able to use them in conversation.
An hour later, he approached me with his cell phone and spent the next 30 minutes showing me photos from his recent fishing trip to Mexico. It was a pleasant, breezy chat and by far the most comfortable I've ever felt around him.
Last post, I claimed I wasn't seeing the irony in life. I guess I was mistaken. I find it ironic that I've found a solid footing with Paul only after the footing I had with his daughter has crumbed to dust and blown away.
I'll probably see him from time-to-time but I'm still going to miss that guy.