old yelper

I’m thinking about creating a Yelp account for my 91 year-old dad.

oldyelper prepares to review the persimmon trees. Those poor persimmons don't stand a chance.

oldyelper prepares to review the persimmon trees. Those poor persimmons don’t stand a chance.

His reviews will be concise, yet murky:

“Not bad.”
 Translation: meh.
“The meat is soft.” What he’s trying to say: Tender! And I don’t have to chew that much.
“I don’t know.” His answer to the questions: “What does it taste like?” and “What’s in it?”

He often uses the word whatchgall when he can’t think of the name of something. Here it is used in a sentence: “What’s the name of the restaurant where we had the whatchgall?”

It’s great fun, almost like playing a game, trying to guess the answer:

me: “Seafood Palace?”
oldyelper: “No!” (looks at me like I’m crazy)
me: “Great Grannie’s Goulash Garden?”
oldyelper: “That’s not it!” (more crazy looks in my direction)

Readers can look forward to going to that unnamed restaurant and asking the wait staff for the whatchgall that oldyelper ordered the other night.

Ermmm…I’m beginning to have second thoughts about this. I am thinking about the content of his potential reviews. I love food so much that a real-life comment like this pains me: “I won’t be eating those tacos again. I like it when it has a little cheese, lettuce and tomato – like at Taco Bell.”

This broke my heart a little because my dad was talking about a hard shell taco with “American” cheese, iceberg lettuce and flavorless tomatoes. You can’t teach an elderly dad many new tricks. Believe me, I’ve tried when it comes to Mexican food. I wanted to convert him to the deliciousness of carnitas and *lengua and mole, and different styles based on different regions. Expand his palate. I thought at the very least that I could get him to use the word salsa instead of “sauce” and “dip”.

We must have tried at least a dozen different Mexican restaurants (including bastardized versions), but oldyelper was never impressed. One night I decided to make the tacos my mom used to make when my brother and I were younger; the only kind of tacos to which my dad could relate: store bought hard shells, McCormick taco seasoning, ground beef, shredded Romaine (don’t tell him it wasn’t Iceberg) and homegrown tomatoes.

this is old school seasoning, yo.

this is old school seasoning, yo.

As I was sprinkling the seasoning on the meat, my mainly Japanese-speaking mom said, “Smells taco.” Yup. Smells taco. Just like she remembered.

That night, oldyelper gave me this review: “Good!” And then he helped himself to another taco.

It eased some of the pain. What can I say? I’m a sucker for a good review.

*I gave my dad a lengua burrito once and told him it was beef. It wasn’t a complete lie. What?? Like you’ve never lied to someone about something that’s for their own good??

Dad vs. The Gopher

No, The Gopher isn’t one of my Match.com dates. I’m talking about that “Caddyshack” acting, scene-stealing, menacing, rabid rodent:

"How you doin'?" Caddyshack (1980), Orion Pictures/Warner Bros. Pictures

“How you doin’?”
Caddyshack (1980), Orion Pictures/Warner Bros. Pictures

Actually, he doesn’t look that rabid. If I remember correctly, he was a pretty good dancer. Hm – he’s kind of cute. Almost…attractive. And speaking of, whatever happened to Michael O’Keefe? I developed a crush on him when I first saw him in “The Great Santini”. But I don’t want to look him up. I’d probably end up adding him to my “Back in the Day, but Not Today” list of actors. Nick Nolte is on that list. I know what you’re thinking, but he was really hot in “The Deep”:

"How you doin'?" The Deep (1977), Columbia Pictures

“How you doin’?”
The Deep (1977), Columbia Pictures

He soo rocked that mustache. I must have had been going through a blonde, surfer-phase back then. I also crushed on a young Michael Biehn and John Baldwin, with whom I went to high school (Baldwin, not Biehn). He had white-blonde hair. Sigh.

Back to the furry animal. My dad is obsessed with gophers. Unlike me, he does not find them attractive. At all. They are eating the product of all his hard work in the garden.

About 10 years ago, Dad learned how to use a computer. Now at the age of 90, he finds himself trusting Google’s advice more than his own children’s: “It’s amazing how much Google knows!” He loves Amazon, too. When a 5-lb. bag of cayenne pepper arrived at our door, I thought he was losing it. Then he explained that the Internet told him it worked to keep garden pests away. Okay, but 5-lbs.? Why not buy a small sample and test it out first? Dad? Are you listening to me? Internet, you stupid favorite child. My mom and I were afraid he was going to accidentally inhale the stuff and then we’d discover him collapsed on top of all the fava beans.

The pepper didn’t work. At least not on the gophers. The jury is still out on keeping squirrels and pooping cats out of their yard.

“He must be dragging them home to his family.” Dad opines after telling us that half his planting of burdock root have completely disappeared, leaves and all.

I decide not to point out that it could be a female gopher bringing home the burdock bacon to her family.

“I bet the kids are thinking, ‘Burdock root again?! We’re tired of burdock root!’” I say in a high-pitched tone.

‘Yah! We want something goodie!’” My mom chimes in in her broken English.

We both start laughing. But my dad is not amused. He is deep in thought, blocking us out like he has been doing it for the past 50 years. I guess that’s why he’s so good at it.

“Google also said that Juicyfruit gum works.” He says suddenly. “You have to find their main tunnel and drop the gum inside, still in its wrapper. They eat it and choke to death.”

The thought of those poor gophers meeting their deaths due to Juicyfruit was so strangely horrifying that I couldn’t come up with anything to say in response. If the  gum doesn’t work, he’ll be resorting to THE TRAP. I don’t want to know what this is – it sounds so final. At least with the gum, there’s a chance for the Heimlich maneuver to be applied in an emergency.

All I can say is, Gopher, give my dad a break. He’s paid his dues; his garden is his pride and joy. What could it hurt to go easy on the destruction and decimation of his veggies?

And, oh yeah – run for your lives.