by Karen Topakian
My father rarely wanted things. He could not be defined as acquisitive. Unless he saw some kind of an angle. A deal.
That’s when he decided he wanted a leather jacket. At the time, they didn’t have the extra money to buy one off the rack. Then he saw an ad. Probably in TV Guide. For leather jackets from Finger Hut. Two jackets, his and hers, for the price of one.
“Hey Alice, look at this great deal,” said my father. “We can each get a leather jacket.”
“What kind of leather jacket?” asked my mother who purchased her clothes carefully.
“I don’t know what kind. A leather jacket,” said my father. “Does it matter?”
“It does to me,” answered my mother as she walked over to my father to see the picture of the jackets.
“I’m going to order it,” said my father. “And look it also comes with a handbag. What a great deal.”
My mother rolled her eyes.
Several weeks later, the jackets arrived.
“Mine fits,” said my father calling my mother to the full-length mirror in their bedroom. “Try yours on, Alice. Let’s see if yours does.”
After taking one look at hers she announced. “I’m not wearing it. The leather’s so thin, it feels like cardboard. Plus the color. It’s hideous.”
Even my father had to agree that the rancid butter color offered no appeal.
“Are you going to send it back?” asked my mother.
“Try it on Alice, just try it on,” begged my father.
My mother refused.
“Look at yourself in the mirror,” said my mother pointing to the sleeve length. “It doesn’t even fit right.”
My father examined himself more closely.
“I guess you’re right, Alice,” said my father as he doffed the jacket, folded it up and put it back in the cardboard box from whence it came. “I should have listened to you.”
On a warm summer day, my father read an advertisement for a mail order fruit tree, which he couldn’t resist.
“Hey Alice, where’s the checkbook? I want to order a fruit tree to plant in the backyard,” said my father to my mother. “It’s a great deal.”
“Here we go again,” muttered my mother. “What kind of a fruit tree?”
“A fruit cocktail tree. It grows all different kinds of fruit on one tree,” said my father pointing to the advertisement. “It says here you can harvest bushels of fruit from the same tree – nectarines, peaches, plums, and apricots.”
“I’m not harvesting anything,” said my mother after glancing at the ad. “Do you really believe one tree can produce all of those different fruits?”
“That’s what it says,” said my father as he hunted for a pen.
“I have my doubts,” said my mother. “Honestly Armen, when will you learn?”
Fast forward to January. The front doorbell rings. My mother opens the heavy wooden door. A gust of arctic wind blows in her face as the mailman hands her two spindly tree trunks with a few branches grafted to it. The small root balls covered in burlap. She signs for the “package,” closes the door and marches to the phone.
“Hi Annette, can I please speak to Armen?” asks my mother to her sister-in-law who worked at the family business, General Plating.
“What do you want, Alice. I’m busy,” said my father when Annette handed him the phone.
“Your trees arrived,” said my mother. “In fact, two trees arrived. Why did you order two?”
My father removed the phone from his ear and yelled to Al, one of the two non-family member employees. “Alice is on the phone. Our trees finally arrived.”
My father instructed my mother to put the trees in the garage,
When he returned home from work, he immediately examined the trees standing in the back of the unheated garage.
“What am I supposed to do with them now?” asked my father. “I guess I’ll have to wait till spring to plant them”
“I can hardly wait,” said my mother.
Once the frozen ground had thawed out, my father dug a hole in the backyard to plant his “orchard.”
“You’re laughing now, Alice. But you just wait and see what happens next.”
And wait they did. But the tree never flowered nor fruited.
“Armen, I’m going to the market, do we need any fruit? Or are we about to harvest?” asked my mother.
My father didn’t respond.
“Admit it Armen, you fell for it again,” said my mother.
“Maybe if it hadn’t arrived in the dead of winter,” offered my father in excuse.
My mother shot him a withering look.
“I guess you’re right,” said my father. “I should have listened to you.”
Which he did until he spied the next “good deal.”