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About two years ago my oldest daughter called from college to say she had met this boy down at U of L. We got to talking and...
“He’s really nice, Daddy. He’s got a great sense of humor and he’s going to the engineer school with me. He’s a real mechanic and he can fix anything and we’re taking all the same classes. I think you’ll really like him.”
“Hey, Renee, is this a boy and a friend or is this a boyfriend?”
About that time I dropped the phone, clutched my heart and slid to the floor.”
“Daddy, Daddy are you all right?!?”
“I think I’m having a heart attack.”
“Over me having a boyfriend?”
“I’m sorry. What boyfriend? I was just looking over (child’s name removed to protect the guilty) report card. What‘s this dude‘s name?”
“Ken and he’s from Henderson, Ky.”
“Well, there’s your first problem. Don’t you know that anyone named ‘Ken’ is a despicable, no-account, lying, untrustworthy, back- stabbing piece of the bad stuff?”
“Your name is Ken.”
“Well, there you go. You’d think you’d learned something after over 20 years of living under my roof. You don’t want to go through life putting up with the same crap that your mother has had to, do you? I gave you more credit than that.”
“I’ll tell you what. I’ll give Ken the benefit of the doubt. I’ve got to go make my annual donation to my ear, nose, and throat doctor’s next set of golf clubs this Thursday down Louisville. How about I meet this Ken? I’ll stop off at McDonald’s and I’ll buy you kids a burger after my appointment.”
“Daddy, Ken’s parents came down to visit last week. They took us out to the Hard Rock Café. It was really very expensive.”
“Well, don’t you think you could do a little better than McDonald’s?”
“Look, Renee, I’m going to let Ken take his pick of any three things off the dollar menu, which is more than I do for your mother. I don’t think I can be any more fair than that.”
I went to U of L’s McDonald’s that next Thursday “watching and waiting,” or as my wife prefers to say “lurking and stalking.” I personally find that very insulting. A man just looking out for his kids and is subject to such condescending remarks.
Where was I?
Oh yeah, I was lurking and stalking Ken down at U of L when we all met up at the McDonald’s.
“Hey Daddy. This is Ken!”
Surprisingly, Ken looked and sounded much like myself. That is, if I was tall, good looking, educated and didn’t talk with a hick accent.
“Glad to meet you, Mr. Begley. I just wanted to say that my mom and dad read your stories on the The Springfield Sun website.”
“Really! Well, Ken, they’re obviously a really well-read and literate couple. You guys ready to eat?”
“We sure are. We’ve been in lab for three hours.”
“Good. I’ve got a sack here with some bread and baloney. You and Ken just kick back and I’ll make some sandwiches.”
“What!?! I thought you said you were going to buy us some burgers?”
“I was, but who knew Belle would get home early from school and catch me in the middle of robbing her piggy bank. You know what? You’d be surprised how little baloney costs if you buy it just a week past it’s expiration date.”
“The supermarket sold you baloney a week past it’s expiration date?”
“Of course not. It was the deranged hobo I saw standing by the dumpster behind the supermarket.”
“Well, Daddy you still can’t bring your own food into McDonald’s to eat. You have to buy it here.”
“Oh yeah? Who says?”
“The manager and campus security.”
“Well, you know what you can tell them?”
“You can do it yourself. They’re standing right behind you.”
I quickly turned around and looked them both in the eyes then said, “I’ve always admired a person in uniform. Let me be the first to say I appreciate your service to the community. I mean that to you, too, Mr. Campus Security.”
But you know what?
Mr. McDonald wasn’t having any of it.
“Sir, the young lady is right. You have to buy your food here if you want to eat in here.”
“How about this. What if we just buy Cokes here? Can we still eat our baloney sandwiches?”
“All right, all right. Buy three Cokes and you can stay here and eat whatever that smelly gray stuff is on your bread.”
“How much are Cokes?’
“We have a special. They’re a dollar a piece for any size.”
“What?!? A dollar a piece?!? Oh, come on now. Can’t you give me a break today? I got it, I got it. How about this? What if we just cup our hands together and you pour a little ice and Coke into it. How much would that be?”
I got to know a lot about Ken that night in the campus security holding facility. Renee, being fleet of foot, got away. So much for “standing by your man.” I was let go with a stiff warning and a free stomach pump. Who knew baloney could go bad so quick?
(Writer’s note: Renee is now engaged to Ken and will be married next May. He seems to be a really good guy despite being a “Ken.” I’ll let you know how good his sense of humor is next week.)