At the age of 12, maybe 13, I was with my Dad in New York City, Upper Manhattan to be exact. I hadn't seen my Dad for about a year; it was good to be just one on one with him. Why we were shopping is fuzzy now, but I think I wanted soccer cleats. Why we were near Tiffany's, Armani, etc. isn't exactly clear either.
We were having one of our typical atypical chats. The type that simultaneously revolved around some heroic character from a movie, their actions, what they meant and how they related to us.
I can remember Dad stopping abruptly, "Son of a bitch!" The rarity of the curse startled me and we stopped instantly.
"What? What's going on?" I'm looking around, a large tour bus parked on the curb next to our left, an expensive men's clothing store to the right. I'm scanning our surroundings, trying to ascertain the object of my dads expletive. My eyes pierce the glass front of the store to find an older man wearing tight bell bottom jeans, a flashy western style button up that's casually rolled up to the elbows, and a crinkly old cowboy hat. His shoulder length dark brown hair flowed out behind his hollow aquiline face as he walked to towards the door, entourage of a few men following. I dismissed him offhandedly and asked my father again.
"Just wait here a second."
So, I accepted my fate to stand there in silence, wondering what was happening. My thirteen year old mind raced through the only conceivable options: an old friend of my fathers from his high school years on Long Island, an old foe from his past? I settled on old foe, and I was ready to see my father in action; isn't this the grandest idea every thirteen year old can come up with? I thought my father was invincible. I used to argue with my best friend in fifth grade whose dad could lift more weight. Their dad could do six-hundred? My dad could seven-hundred. I stood in intense anticipation. It didn't matter that my dad was in his 50's and he'd left his rough and rowdy ways behind some decades ago.
The rocker cowboy exited the store with a small entourage of men. One steps to my father to intercept as my dad makes his way towards the rocker cowboy. He stepped past, ignoring the larg forearm attempting to block his way, brushing the arm aside. "Excuse, Mr. Yoakam. I'm Kenneth Krauss. I just wanted to let you know that I am a big fan of yours and appreciate the work you've done." Past that I don't remember the conversation. The way they just chatted and the two handshakes they shared, at the beginning and the end, made them seem like old best friends. My father has this way of talking to anyone of putting them at ease, talking to them like they're his equal, and sometimes like he's their superior, whichever to suit his needs.
Now though, I think back and realize that my father, a 50-something at the time, retired draftee who served as a warrant officer in the army as a medic, a PA in the VA for the past two decades or more was talking to Dwight Yoakam, a very successful musician who apparently owned the aforementioned tour bus. He just walked up to him right off the street. He didn't allow Dwight to decide when their conversation was over either, he simply said, "Well, I've got to get going. We've got some shopping to do." Putting his arm around me, since he'd introduced me earlier. Dwight thanked him for his support and bid us a good day.
These are the sorts of things I remember with my Dad. Teaching me lessons even when he wasn't trying to.