Mr. T

For the holidays, my family comes together like a favorite puzzle. Each piece, unique, and cut with precision forms the whole of a beautiful, bountiful, life’s experience. My son, Mr. T, is joining us this year from Chicago where he is very close to earning a PhD in physics. I’m not sure if this is true of all physicists, but he vacillates between the absent minded professor and the genius mathematician type, pacing while talking, choosing his words very carefully. I’ve never met anybody who can take a platter of baked confections and eat them like potato chips in one sitting. This usually occurs while I am sleeping, so I’ve begun to mimic my own mother’s habit of leaving notes on everything. “Don’t touch this—it’s a platter for Mr. Rogers!” or “SAVE for Christmas for Cripes sake!” or my favorite that includes a veiled threat: “Don’t EVEN think about eating this right now!”

He got a haircut yesterday, (thank the lord) and told us how he explained what cut he wanted to the young stylist.

“Do you want it spiked on top?”

“Uhhh, no.”

“What kind of products do you use in your hair? Do you use any products?”

“Uhhh, no. Never.”

“Hmmm…do you see a picture anywhere in here that looks like what you might want?”

“Yes, that one over there would be fine.”

His stylist guessed that he must be either a scientist or a doctor on account of his attitude that hair care was simply tedious; here was a client who had little concern for the outcome, as long as it was shorter.

I was shocked to learn that the National Security Agency might be hacking in to my computer. Mr. T suggested that I learn Linux.

“Lenna what? What is that?”

“It’s an operating system. I can teach you!”

“Mr. T, I can barely remember where I parked my car at Randall’s, let alone learn a new language right now!”

His faith in my ability to pick up new material astounds me and actually feels pretty good. I have no doubt that he could teach me; I have grave concerns over my ability to retain such information.

Last year when I was having cell phone issues, I cringed as he picked up my phone. I knew I was in for a huge disruption of some sort. It seems I had too many applications loaded. Together we decided which ones could be uninstalled. When he handed my phone back, it looked like a Spartan phone with a lovely screensaver of an empty dinghy at the shore. Later, I would discover a bunch of unapproved missing apps as I went about my week, and sputtered while reinstalling a few while sitting in my car, out of eyeshot (and earshot).

This morning I woke up to 3-D SketchNote images of picture frames on my computer. The person whose name Mr. T drew for Christmas requested frames and gave the actual dimensions. Mr. T went out, bought lumber, and is about to make and stain these frames today—Christmas Eve. Yesterday his father gave him instructions on how to use special saws to cut precision corners for things like crown molding or picture frames. It seems this plan has been several days in the making. How big is the matting? What measurement should the rabbet (depth) be? Will the receiver use mats inside the frame? Where can non-glare glass be purchased? I wouldn’t have thought there would be so much to consider! I kindly mentioned that I do have a coupon for Michael’s—buy one frame, get one free. He looked at me without expression and walked back into the computer room to triple check his sketches.

We all love Mr. T and when he leaves, our board games go back onto the shelves, I sweep up the crumbs in the game room, and take possession of the computer and laundry room once again. We’ll miss him terribly as we settle back into our regular routines.

The other evening, Mr. T called using a visual application on his phone that linked to a visual application on his dad’s phone, so we could all see one another. He is in Canada currently, taking a small vacation from his data analysis to visit his girlfriend. We talked about his making yogurt, trip to the farmer’s market, and plans the two of them had for the weekend. Over the course of the conversation, Mr. T traversed the apartment multiple times as he consumed Pringle chips, pistachios, a spoonful of honey, some type of cut up fruit, and I’m not exactly sure what else! I called it Mr. T’s Hour of Power Munching….did I mention this guy can EAT?! I felt worn out and very hungry when we hung up. But I wouldn’t trade his phone calls for anything in the world right now!

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