By Jack Sparacino
Our son Jack recently flew down from Boston for a weeklong visit. He’s very grown up now at 26, with a fascinating job in a terrific city. When he was a little fellow, it was always fun to teach him things. Now the tables are somewhat turned, and that’s fun too. Here are a few of the lessons I was able to absorb while he stayed with us.
1. How old did you say I seem? We had perfect weather coming home from Savannah. Jack drove and I got to ask questions about his flight and the music we listened to on the radio. After a neat blast from the 60’s courtesy of The Doors (“Hello, I Love You, Won’t You Tell Me Your Name”), we heard several songs that apparently came from another galaxy. One that actually started to grow on me (did I really just say that?) was “Glad You Came” by The Wanted. Jack laughed and agreed there might still be some hope for me musically joining the 21st century. Some.
2. What did Elton John call them? Showing my age again, we were talking over a lovely dinner at Saltus about how different people have their own individual profiles when it comes to those purchases they’re willing to splurge on a little — or not. When I reminisced about only paying $6 for a pair of “blue jeans” when I was a freshman in college, and not liking to pay all that much more than that today, Jack politely informed me that the term was actually “jeans” or “denim,” not “blue jeans.” A quick check in my closet revealed that they were all indeed blue, but I’m working on it as I note that 1968 came and went — along with my cool record collection. Which at one point included Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer” (blue jean baby, L.A. lady).
3. Victory at sea. When a friend invited us to take a close-up look at the Victory after a delightful lunch at Sweetgrass, we were treated to a wonderful tour of a venerable ship that was built in 1955. Turns out that many famous people have been on this vessel, including Jackie Kennedy, Marilyn Monroe, and Eleanor Roosevelt. Jack followed Frank down to the engine room and let me know that everything seemed shipshape. Just like our special relationship as we continued to cruise through a beautiful day.
4. Magic in your pocket. Jane and I have had cell phones for years, the same ones come to think of it. You know, the kind that you recharge by turning the crank. When Jack said he was excited about picking up his new iPhone at Best Buy, I wondered what all the hoopla was about. One 15 minute demonstration later over lunch at the Back Porch and my brain was spinning. Those phones are like having magic in your pocket. We concluded that it’s not really a question of what they can do, it’s more a question of what they can’t do, and the answer is … not much. The camera alone is phenomenal, the applications are off the charts, and you can talk to it, for example to ask “the lady” to remind you to do something. Oh yeah, you can also use it to make phone calls.
5. Living off the land. Jack got another kick out of how readily one can put together a fabulous Lowcountry seafood treat. We were “living off the land,” he reminded me, as we prepared crab cakes and steamed clams from the shellfish we harvested. I also learned that in his world in Boston, you simply can’t put too much garlic in a chicken and bell pepper dish. It was fun to watch him cook and walk us through a delicious recipe. Was this the same fellow who once covered a room with spaghetti from his highchair?
6. What’s a mojito? When Jack ordered one of these before dinner one night, I asked him what that was. Turns out it’s a popular cocktail that includes rum, muddled mint leaves, lime juice, club soda and simple syrup. With those ingredients, I think it could also serve as mouthwash.
7. Not all good movies are supposed to be entertaining. In this case I learned that no, a movie doesn’t have to be “entertaining” to be considered an excellent film. Jack managed to help me understand that just because watching “The Black Swan” made me uncomfortable, it was still a worthwhile and perhaps even valuable experience (a theatrical piece of “art,” as he put it). Just don’t try to get me too excited about ballet.
8. The dog multiplier effect: 2 + 1 = 6. We have two fun little Yorkies and Jack brought his girl Rory with him. That made three Yorkies, each on a hair trigger for anything out of the ordinary: squirrels or lizards on the porch, a dog barking on TV, you name it. It was one chain reaction after another at times. We all learned that the difference between 2 dogs in the house and 3 dogs is more like 4 than 1.
So after a week’s visit that seemed like a day and a half, our wonderful son is back in Boston and we’re left basking in the wake of another lovely family time. If I did the math right, Jack left the Lowcountry three years or so the wiser and Jane and I came out a decade younger.
By Jack Sparacino