Column, Movie Diary

On any given Sunday

By Dom Cioffi

I took my father-in-law to a professional football game last weekend. Football is one of the few things we bond over, so if I must spend an extended amount of time with him, I prefer it to revolve around football.

He’s originally from New York (having grown up in Brooklyn), so he’s got that New York sports pride and loyalty flowing through his veins. He loves to brag when his teams are doing well, and I love to take him down when they’re not.

My father-in-law is 80 years old, stands around 5’2”, and weighs about 100 pounds. Think “Joe Pesci” but smaller. However, for his small stature and age, he’s in exceptionally good shape (and he’ll be the first one to tell you that fact). I give him credit. He works out hard almost every day by running at the track and doing weight resistance at his gym.

If you challenge him on his fitness, he’ll drop to the floor and bust out 10 solid push-ups better and faster than a guy half his age. I’ve seen him do it on about 50 different occasions in my lifetime — it’s one of his parlor tricks.

I also give him credit for still trying to play the dating game. His life partner died several years ago so he’s been alone for some time. After he was done grieving, he joined a few senior dating sites and began going out on dates. For a while, it seemed like he had a new girlfriend every weekend. We’d hear a thing or two about some of them, but overall, he’s never found anything lasting.

My wife and I think he’s looking for an exact duplicate of his past companion and refuses to settle for anything less. Whatever the case, watching him navigate this process has given my wife and me a front row seat to how lonely senior living can be.

The man is also an incredibly picky eater. I wouldn’t call him a vegetarian, but he almost always refuses meat. He prefers snacking on things like nuts and raisins and eating cans of beans. Whenever I go to his apartment, he’s always got a sink full of empty cans of beans.

My father-in-law is a quirky guy, for sure, which makes his presence interesting when he visits. He’s a restless character so unless you’re specifically talking to him, he’s generally pacing around our home. He’ll wander from room to room with no apparent reason, occasionally talking to himself or opening cabinets to explore.

In many ways, he’s like a 14-year-old kid. You always know when he’s been around because there tends to be a trail of crumbs and open drawers left in his wake. He also makes it a habit of leaving things behind. I don’t think he’s ever visited where he hasn’t left a ballcap or his keys somewhere in our home.

The bottom line is that he needs entertainment since he’s having a hard time with the loneliness of old age. We all try to do our part, which is why I took him to a professional football game.

The ride to the game started off on a bad note. I made the mistake of entertaining his penchant for hypochondria so the majority of the car ride was spent reviewing all the possible ailments that could end his life.

After a while, I got him off that train by asking about his childhood — always a surefire way to get an elderly person off topic.

Once we got to the game, he was upbeat and happy. And within minutes of sitting in our seats, he was having conversations with every person around him. This doesn’t bother me too much because it takes the pressure off me, but he tends to extend the conversations past the point of reasonable (not everyone wants to review the golden era of the 1969 Super Bowl champion Jets).

Because of his failing eyesight, I had to narrate most of the game; even the Jumbotron wasn’t big enough for him to see clearly. This fact gave him pause, so we had to talk about it the whole way home.

In the end, it was a fun afternoon, albeit one filled with an old man’s phobias and worries.

In this week’s feature, “Terrifier 2,” we meet a young woman who also has plenty to worry about, but in her case, it has to do with a murderous clown.

The follow-up to the original “Terrifier” from 2016 has captured the public’s attention, mostly because the level of gore is so intense that there have been reports of people passing out in the theater and ambulances being called to assist. This didn’t happen at my screening, but I can attest to the intensity of the violence.

If you have even the slightest sensitivity to slasher films, you may want to pass on this movie since Art the Clown could easily find a toehold in the “Creepiest Villains of All-Time” roster. This isn’t my cup of tea, but given the season, I can see the appeal.

A vomitus “B-” for “Terrifier 2,” now playing in theaters everywhere.

Got a question or comment for Dom? You can email him at [email protected]

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