My father, the robot, stood every inch of six feet tall. Grandpa, however, did not. Rory and I snuck into his room and tried to find clothes that would fit Dad. No such luck. We grabbed our bikes and headed to town. There was a thrift store on Main Street and we hoped to find something there. Prior to our departure I’d found a tape measure and did my best to get Dad’s dimensions. He tried to coach us in the fine art of purchasing clothes for an adult. Rory took notes while I measured and called out numbers.
Once inside the store, we looked around. Several women were browsing through rack upon rack of used clothes. The middle-aged lady at the counter regarded us. “Can I help you, boys?”
“Uh, umm,” I stammered, startled by her greeting. “Just looking for some clothes.”
She pointed. “The boy’s section is over there.”
“Uh, these are clothes for our father.”
“Then why didn’t he come and find some?”
“He’s uh, he’s umm, home sick in bed.”
“Sick during the summer? Must be bad.”
“Yes, yes it is.”
“Well, I hope for his sake he gets well soon.”
I nodded. “Thank you.”
She stepped from behind the counter. “Do you need any help finding his size?”
I took the piece of paper from my pocket and carefully unfolded it. “We have his measurements.”
“You don’t know what size clothes he takes?”
“And he didn’t know either?”
“He came from the Inner States, and well, things are sized differently there.”
“Oh, they are?”
“Yes,” I lied. There was no other way of slipping this past her.
She held out her hand. “Well, then we’ll just have to go off the measurements and hope we get it right.”
“Thank you.” I placed the page in her hand. “We appreciate it.”
“So your father came from the Inner States?”
“Just on vacation here?”
“Umm, kind of.”
“Why didn’t he bring any clothes?”
“The, uh, airlines lost his bags.”
“And he got sick just a day after landing.”
There was definitely a level of suspicion in her tone of voice. “Right.”
“He sent us out to find a couple pairs of jeans and a shirt or two—maybe some shoes.”
The sales lady nodded and went about finding what we needed.
Finally, two hours later, we were pedaling back home. Along the way, we saw Dagwood cruising into town. We pulled over to the side of the busy road.
“Hi, guys!” said Dagwood with his usual enthusiasm.
“Hi,” I replied.
“Just leave town?”
“Yeah. We took your advice and got Dad some clothes. But the lady at the thrift store was skeptical of us.”
“We didn’t know his clothes sizes; all we had were measurements.”
He scratched his chin. “And she thought that was odd?”
“Well, I’m headin’ that way to find a few pairs of work jeans. Maybe I can chat with her and smooth things out. Don’t need folk havin’ suspicions now, do we?”
“No, definitely not.”
“And I’ll keep my ears out for any trains.”
I nodded. “Thank you so much for all your help.”
“We’re friends, and friends help each other out.”
It was at that very moment I realized the true and utter meaning of friendship. There were no strings attached, no deals, no favors, no repayment of any kind; just pure kindness that came from Dagwood’s heart. He loved to see people happy—it made him happy, even though he wasn’t going with us, he was doing everything he could to help our endeavor. When we got back, I was going to show him how much I appreciated him. My father might have had a golden body, but Dagwood had a golden heart.