bio-family here, I've decided, are my new community service project. Visiting with them can certainly feel like a chore.
    At least with lisBETH the time is not a complete waste. Manicures and pedicures are important community service projects in the public interest of not having ugly hands and feet. But with Frank there's no getting around the fact that the time with him serves no purpose other than ... passing time.
    Frank has weird rules about his apartment. He'll sometimes but not always ask guests to remove their shoes upon entering the front
    hallway, since in his advertising-man-CEO heyday he took many business trips to Asia and decided he liked their footwear policies as much as he disliked their undervalued currencies. Last year when I visited Frank, shoes were acceptable. Now, no. Frank's never been one for consistency, according to my mother. He is consistent in requesting that guests who join him for lunch at his place arrive promptly by 11:45, because he is deep into punctuality, and into leaving enough time between shoe removal and the basic exchange of "How ya doin'?" pleasantries to allow for sitting down to lunch at noon exactly.
    Despite his worldliness, Frank doesn't seem to know the one basic rule of welcoming his illegitimate eighteen-year-old bio-daughter who's only recently moved to his city and possibly into his life: She might not welcome an invitation to lunch at his stuffy Upper East Side apartment. I mean, Frank, dude, take me somewhere good! We could as easily have taken our shoes off at a swank sushi restaurant, where we could sit on pillows on the floor, get ripped on sake, and try to determine the ranks of the Japanese businessmen in relation to one another by the depth of their bows, as Sid-dad once taught me to do to keep my attention deficit problem in check while awaiting the arrival of appetizers at a fancy restaurant.
    I hardly know Frank, but I understood him enough to know better than to expect him capable of such an experience with me-- um, like an interesting experience. When I'd been cooped up for six
    weeks with a leg cast, Frank didn't visit me once, didn't perch himself next to my bedside and offer to play board games with bored me like Sid-dad used to when I was little and sick in bed with the chicken pox. I don't take Frank's lack of face time personally. Frank moved into the city after his wife died a few years ago, but Danny told me Frank hasn't visited Danny's apartment in years because of the five flights of stairs, so given Frank's advancing age and senior moments, I shouldn't have expected lunch on pillows or sake shots. Lunch at his apartment did spare me having to watch his womanizer self checking out the hostess ladies in geisha costumes. Ew, just the thought of.
    Frank is learning consistency with the phone calls. He didn't stay in touch much from that first time I came to visit him in New York up until I graduated high school and moved here. However, now that he's discovered the modern wonder called the cell phone, he can't ring-a-ling-ling me--and lisBETH and Danny--enough. I also don't take these calls personally, as Danny says Frank's cell phone habit has nothing to do with Frank mastering the new technology so he can keep in touch with his kids. It has everything to do with his utter boredom since being forced into retirement.
    With Frank, you take what you can get.
    Frank called regularly during my leg cast experience, matching his consistency in calling with his consistency in having very little to say to me.
    Frank: "How are you feeling, kiddo?"
    Me: "Fine." Do you not recall I don't like being called "kiddo"?
    Frank: "Do you need anything?"
    Me: "No." I'm bored! I need to be entertained while Danny is out during the day! And I know you're bored too! Do you not sense the solution to our two problems here?
    Frank: "You don't need money?"
    Me: "I'm sitting around with my leg propped up on a pillow all day watching movies. What would I need money for?"

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