One of My Daddy’s Days


This looks more like my granddaddy than my dad, but he had a similar gift of gab. (Monte Dutton sketch)
This looks more like my granddaddy than my dad, but he had a similar gift of gab. (Monte Dutton sketch)

This was a Daddy Day, which is not to say I am one. It is a subset of what my late father called “one of them Dutton deals.”

To me, a Daddy’s Day is one in which very little gets done. My father, who died nearly 22 years ago, could waste a day as well as anyone I’ve ever known. When I was a teen-ager, Jimmy Dutton drove me crazy by taking an inordinate amount of time running errands that should have taken an hour and turning them into an entire day.

By Monte Dutton
By Monte Dutton

The best one was the time all we had to do was install a new screen door at the house. My father measured the size he needed, bought a door at D.E. Tribble Company, which, like my father, is now just a memory. We brought it home, and Daddy concluded it was too large, so we went back uptown, and he had a man shave an inch off the door. Then we returned home to find the door too small, so he nailed the one-inch sliver of wood that had been cut off to the floor, and we mounted the door. For the rest of the time leading up to when I went off to college, that little piece of wood became an ideal and unavoidable means of stubbing my big toe going out the back door.

That was a great example of Daddy bungling a job, but to qualify for a Daddy’s Day, he had to waste time just shooting the bull at every stop along the way. My father could go to Quik Way for a fountain Coke and spend a half-hour chatting with the woman behind the cash register. He’d have a half-dozen conversations with random people he encountered in the aisles at the grocery store. Buddy Copeland’s hardware store might as well have been Six Flags Over Georgia. He could make a day trip out of it, and it was only a couple miles from the house.

Meanwhile, I’d be trying to get loose so I could do something like go to “the show,” which was a term for the movie theater up town, or, once I got a little older, sit out on a dirt road in the country with friends, listen to music, and drink beer. When I was a kid, an 18-year-old could purchase beer legally, which, of course, meant that it wasn’t uncommon for a 16-year-old to do so. There were places where underage kids could get beer, a curb market in Laurens being the site preferred by yours truly, but I knew of houses on the mill hill where bootleggers lurked. I wasn’t bold enough for that. I had heard of bootleggers who pulled guns on teens if they stopped by before the seller was over his hangover.

The background having been established, a Daddy’s Day is one in which I waste a lot of time, a double-edged memorial to my father, rest his soul. Wednesday was such a squanderfest. Although my long-distance drive to Texas and back ended Monday afternoon, I still haven’t regained my energy.

I got up this morning, brewed some coffee and fixed breakfast, using the leftovers my nephew eschewed while he was house-sitting and I was away.

I visited my mother and stretched it out several hours showing her Facebook pictures of her great grandson Thomas’s recent beach trip with his parents, Ray and Jessica, and videos of the waning days of The Late Show with David Letterman.


Wednesday reminded me of old times.  (Monte Dutton sketch)
Wednesday reminded me of old times. (Monte Dutton sketch)

I went up to Clinton Tire and had the oil changed in my car and settled up with them for the work they’d done on my old pickup. (My “new pickup,” which is seven years old, took me to Texas and back.) That should have taken about a half hour, but I stretched it out, just as the late, great Jimmy would have done, by talking endlessly about late-night television, and classic movie comedies, and which of the two True Grits was better, and how much I’m going to miss Letterman, and whether I’m going to switch to Jimmy Fallon or Jimmy Kimmel, and why James Corden is unwatchable and likely would be even if he started calling himself Jimmy, too.

Then I went to the post office and mailed my monthly sales tax, which was zero, and to the bank, where I deposited my paycheck from Texas. Banks don’t allow much time to waste, so I went on to Kountry Fresh Meats, because they sell sausage I like, and reminisced with a man there about the trip. Also, I bumped into one old high school football teammate, and we talked about how bad it was that another, Donnie Humphries, died after being in a motorcycle wreck. Donnie, who, like C.W. Wilson and me, was in the Class of 1976, made it through surgery all right, but a blood clot got him.

That just about did it for the day, all except this blog, whose topic I found while sifting through the wreckage of everything else I planned on getting done today.

Meanwhile, Vanderbilt just finished off a miracle comeback over Missouri in the SEC Baseball Tournament on TV, while I was writing this blog solely for the purpose of doing something slightly constructive.

On the morrow, I shall do better. This was just one of them Dutton deals.

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