I have a fabulously eccentric uncle. I have mentioned him and his wonderfully peculiar ways in many prior posts. Uncle Ronnie can only be described as 24X7 non-stop entertainment. Everything that he says or does is uniquely Ronnie.
One of the unique things about Uncle Ronnie is the way he eats, or more specifically, what he considers food. If you go to a diner with him, there's a good chance that he will take out his pocket knife, open the little square packets of jelly and marmalade on the table and scoop them into his mouth. If he orders a turkey club, he will spare the sandwich from the condiment and eat it on its own after he finishes the sandwich, scooping it out of its container with the first available utensil he sees.
Ronnie is a bachelor...an 89 year old bachelor, so it's fair to say that his house is unencumbered by the decorative trappings of female fussiness. He lives in the house that he was born in, which in many ways, is exactly the same as it was on the day he was born. As one might expect, he is not interested in new technology. The phone is rotary (dialing old school, yo), the answering machine is full and has been that way for at least three years and his sock drawer is home to a buzzing alarm clock that he can't figure out how to turn off, so its muffled screams are constantly pulsating from the dresser. When we offered to turn it off for him, he shooed us away, not wanting us to get involved in a problem that he believes he solved months ago.
Given his tendency toward male simplicity, it's easy to understand how this happened...
My father and his wife recently sold their house and have moved in with his wife's 94 year old mother. They are in the process of converting her house into a mother/daughter and while the construction is going on, the three of them are living communally on the first floor of her house.
Ronnie shows up one day to go to lunch with my dad. Knowing that the air conditioning in most restaurants is too strong for him he headed toward his bedroom to get a jacket. As my dad turned to walk away, he heard a loud crunching, like the sound of someone eating one of those sourdough hard pretzels. But...there are no pretzels. My father looks back to see Ronnie holding a bowl of potpourri, shoving wood chips into his mouth like crazy. My father, speechless, continued on to get his jacket, figuring Ronnie would catch on to the fact that he wasn't eating mixed nuts or granola. There was no mention of the incident between the two men.
Fast forward to Father's Day, Ronnie is dipping into his usual bag of conversation topics - guns, cars, army stories. My father leaves the room and Ronnie turns to us and in a very confidential tone says "These chips are delicious. I don't know what kind your father and his wife buy, but they are a bitter disappointment." Classic Ronnie.