July 16, 2019

Fathers, Sons and Futons

Before I move in to my own place I figure it would be good to practice spending time alone. I’ve had good practice as it’s been some time since I’ve been with a woman. That, and I don’t mind spending time by myself watching HGTV and listening to Warren Zevon and eating rotisserie chicken with my bare hands and wearing my Penn State sweatshirt. I am content participating in these stay at home activities, but in order to start my life I must visit retail chains, something I rarely do alone.

I prefer not to use the term “running errands” because I think of joining my dad on endless trips to the bank or dry cleaners. For extra cash when I was a kid my dad would wake up early on Sundays and deliver the New York times to 10 homes, no more than a mile apart in Squirrel Hill, our neighborhood in Pittsburgh. It took him so long he would deliver Sunday’s paper on top of Monday’s.

I was the only child who suffered emotional damage from the boredom of waiting for my dad to choose which tennis racquet’s grip he liked best. But then he bought me gummies or baseball cards and the world was full of hope and glossy images of Twins first baseman Kent Hrbeck . Back in the family Accord, we would play the “look alike game” during which my dad would point to someone who kind of looked like someone we knew and then say with great enthusiasm, “Look it’s Mike Tobias.”

When I sat shotgun he would let me steer the wheel until I veered too far left on Beechwood toward South Linden. He even tasked me with delivering the majority of the papers on the route when I was strong enough to lift a whole Sunday New York Times.

As an adult male with no dependents, I’ve thought about becoming a Jewish Big Brother so I can take my “Little” to buy toilet paper and look for futons. I’d even take him for a soda if he behaved. I’m not ready to look after a child just yet. I’m just beginning to look for futons by myself, like two days ago when I visited a local futon shop in West Hollywood.

“Were you the one who called earlier about Aruba?” Asked the sales clerk, the only indiviudal in the store.

“Yes, I was.”

“Welcome. Make yourself at home.” He said.

My temporary home was a warehouse full of beige futons. “This is Morpheus,” he shared.

I took a seat on this sharp, modern looking futon named Morpheus. “How much is this guy?”

“Usually $459, but today Morpheus is marked down to $389.”

Sitting on Morpheus was like sitting on the floor. “I think Morpheus is too low to the ground for me,” I responded.

“Did you want to see Aruba?” He asked as he guided me toward the kind of futon that’s only passable in a college dorm.

“You’re sitting on Aruba. It’s the same length as Jamaica, but it’s wider and there’s more head room.”

“Oh. Can I see Jamaica?”

“Right now we just have Aruba in stock. Jamaica is in West LA at the moment but we will soon have Jamaica in olive, mocha and chocolate.”

I looked back at Morpheus to avoid making eye contact with the sales clerk. Why was this chocolate colored futon named Jamaica?

And why was every futon in the store mentioned in the song “Kokomo?” Bermuda, Bahama, the only futon missing was Key Largo. I’m sure she was in West LA with Jamaica.

Standing right in the middle of all these futons seemed exciting before I began to imagine all the long, restless nights of sleep each of the futons would cause.

“Why don’t you lie down and try out Cabo?”


I nervously laid on my back and stared at the ceiling so I wouldn’t have to see a grown man watching me lie on an uncomfortable futon. I crawled in the fetal position and grew more self concious. I gathered myself and jumped to my feet. “Are all futons like this?”

“It’s just the way they are made.”

“Well, this is all good info to have. Thanks for your time.”

“I hope this helped give you a better idea of what you want.”

I walked aimlessly around Target looking for duvet covers. 300 threads? What do I need all those threads for? With my Kmart bedsheets I can count all the threads myself. I sat on the only futon displayed in the store and then inquired about a 37 inch television, and left.

These two errands on an empty stomach left me famished and yearning for my father’s company. There is no bond between father and son wasting time in a retail store. Even seeing a Stan Tucci look alike near the Best Buy escalator wasn’t quite the same.

I have no problems being alone, but I’d rather suffer with someone else.

Dad, I guess what I’m trying to say is—you’ve always been like a father to me, and I really don’t want to ever look for a futon again so please buy me a small couch for Hannukah/my late January Birthday.


Your favorite paper boy,
Elliot (Steingart)