There are times of the day when a phone call from your parents illicit little more than some chat time with mom. Eight forty-five Saturday morning is not one of those times.
The finishing touches to an egg, cheese and sausage sandwich were just coming together – my Saturday morning, after gym meal – when my cell phone rang. The screen displayed, “Mom.” This can’t be good, I thought.
“Hello,” I said.
My dad was on the other end. “You up yet or are you still sleeping?” My dad always thinks everyone sleeps too much. He is cut from the cloth when men were expected to be up and working every single day at the crack of dawn.
“I’m up. What’s going on?”
“Can you come over here this morning? We have some very serious business to discuss.” He didn’t sound like he was kidding. He sounded like he was going to tell me someone was dead or dying.
I asked him if everyone was okay. “Yeah,” he said, “me and your mother aren’t dead or dying.”
I am almost forty-three and have never been summoned by my parents to discuss “very serious business.” This must be what it feels like to be a mafia soldier when the don calls unexpectedly. “Hey thirty-fingers, can you come by the social club? Use the back door and go to the basement.”
My mind became a rolodex and the cards every conceivable eventuality that would qualify as “very serious business.”
I drove over – very quickly – the good mafia soldier. I settled in on the couch – prepared for something disastrous like, “It’s time you know that you were adopted. We decided to tell you because of the possibility that your real father, Newt Gingrich, may get the GOP nomination.”
“Well,” my dad said. Here it comes, I thought. “You know we are going to be in Florida next month. I can’t drive far anymore. Do you think you could come down there before we leave and travel with us back here?”
I wasn’t going to get whacked, Newt wasn’t my father (thank God for all that is holy). The racing thoughts, the dire predictions, the 85 MPH car trip was all to ask me if I could fly to Florida, load my parents and their car on an Amtrak train, ride overnight while we have dinner in the dining car, sleep in a sleeper car, get off the train in DC and drive them back to Pittsburgh.
Why they had to tell me in person, on Saturday morning, after a cryptic phone call is a question that will never be answered.
As I gathered my coat and my mental acuity, I asked if they had alcohol on the train.
“Wine with dinner and drinks in the lounge car,” My dad said. “But we usually sneak on a pop bottle full of Manhattans.” All aboard.