05 August 2010

Things You Don't Say to Dad (and Never Did)

(This is where I usually put a photo, but I searched for "crackpot" and only came up with images of Bill Kristol and Glenn Beck. The internet wins again!)

This Is Why I'm Crazy, The Sequel

The Crazy Flags are waving at full-mast here at the family homestead. Allow me to elaborate.

My father, Dog bless him, is a wonderful, kind man whom I consider a confidante and friend as well as an inspiration. My mother, likewise, is a loving and nurturing individual who is truly invested in those around her. I love them and respect them both entirely.

However, as I said before, my parents are bananas. (And yes, you can love and respect crazy people.)

Last week I came home from spending the day with Adam, as I do. He had complained of a cold, so we just loafed around, watched TV, I made tea and such, and so the day went. I returned to my parents' house for dinner and spent what I thought was a fairly average evening at home. We three chatted, I watched The Daily Show and The Colbert Report with my dad as is our habit, read a little of the book I'm devouring (The Help by Kathryn Stockett), and went to sleep.

I woke up the next morning and started my usual routine. I made coffee, had some yogurt, and started looking for jobs. My mother was furiously cleaning the windows in the house, but as it is getting close to the end of her summer vacation, I was not surprised by this. When my mother is on vacation (she's an elementary school librarian), she spends 90% of her time reading. There is exactly zero wrong with this. My mom is a bibliophile, she loves her job, she loves books, and kids crack her up. Most days, she sits in the living room reading book after book, from children's stories to huge tomes written for adults. It's her comfort place - and to be honest, it's mine, too. As long as she's sitting there, I know she's not about to go all Joan Crawford on me because... one day, something in her brain starts to fizzle and she goes on a cleaning rampage because she thinks she hasn't accomplished enough over her break. It's super-fun, especially when you get unexpectedly sucked into it and have to help sort through your brother's old shit even though he moved out 12 years ago. Fun fun. 

ANYWAY, so she was doing something weird with the windows (it wasn't just a cleaning, there was scraping and such involved), and I started chatting with her. I'm not exactly how it came about, but at one point, she looked at me in the way she looks at a puppy (we've had several) when it pees on the rug and said, "Well, after what you said to your father last night...! I have never - in 38 years! - seen him speechless, but you made him speechless!"

At first I thought, 'Oh GOD, what did I say?' I had been out for a friend's birthday the night before and there were margaritas involved and I was mildly concerned I had dropped some awful unintentional insult at my dad for a moment. But then I paused. No, no, I had a lovely, quiet, fun evening at home. There was nothing controversial or even any mild disagreement. I had no idea what was going on.

"What?! What?" Exclaimed I. "What did I say?!"

--- Here, dear reader, is where I will tell you what I actually said. My father asked, mid-Colbert Report, what Adam and I did that day. I said, "Oh, you know, sat around all day, laid low." This is my usual sort of response. Additionally, it's truly what we did all day. ---

So my mother, cleaning rag in hand, points at me and says, "You told him you and Adam made love all day."

I don't think I've ever come so close to vomiting at something my mother has said. I was so panicked and horrified that my brain turned into TV static and I burst into tears. And despite my protestations, I could not for the life of me remember what I said, so it seemed like I was just back-pedaling. 

"I" - sob - "would" - sob gasp - "neversay" - gasp sob gasp - "ANYTHING" - sob - "like that" - sob gasp sob - "to" - snort sniffle choke - "either of you!" I blurted.

And this is where I lost my mind. I was so thoroughly mortified at the idea, that screws started shaking lose. I know there exist some really fantastic people out there who are so bohemian and free-spirited and like "with it" that they can say shit like that to their parents. Good for them, honestly, that is pretty awesome. But for all my parents' hippie and free-spirited tendencies, we're not like that. As an acquaintance said when I told her my tale, "I'm 42 and married and I still can't mention anything like sex to my mom!" Some of us are just too stuck in our Puritanical ideals or whatever, I guess. I mean, I get embarrassed if my dad finds out I had a gynecologist's appointment. I begged my mother not to tell him when I reached menarche, for the love of Bob! (I mean, even at that age, I realized he'd figure it out sooner or later, but seriously.)

So, screws coming lose, sobbing, I turned into what can only be characterized as "a six-year-old attempting to run away." I started maniacally throwing shit around my room. I moved my stuff like a whirling dervish, my bed was strewn with books and papers and clothes of various sorts. My mother stood at my doorway, vacillating between apologizing for upsetting me so much by saying she "had to make sure I really didn't say that" and reminding me that she and my father "weren't born yesterday" (i.e. they know I knock boots. FANTASTIC. Really, I'm excited about being told that in no uncertain terms). Neither of these approaches helped.

I started babbling about how I had to move out IMMEDIATELY, and started to "plan" accordingly. Here's where the runaway attempt began. Into an overnight bag, I threw: four pairs of underwear, a dog-eared copy of Lettres de Mon Moulin by Alphonse Daudet, my iPod (sans headphones), an already worn tee shirt, and a box of tampons. I was ready for anything, or at least for emergency travel to the French countryside. I don't know if I've ever felt so mortified - and I once gave a fifteen minute presentation in sixth grade with my fly down!

A few hours later, still half-crying, my face looking like something a rabid possum had chewed on from so many tears, I calmed enough to assess my packing, sort out what I really needed to pack, and headed over to Adam's.

As I drove down Pierce Road, I realized what I had said. Here I must point out that I absolutely ABHOR the use of cell phones while driving. Unless there's an axe murder in the back seat attempting to gut you, stay off your fucking telephone while driving. The use of cell phones - hands-free or otherwise! - while driving is downright dangerous and people who do so should be treated like drunk drivers. BUT, hypocrite that I am, I was in such a state that I called my house.

My mother picked up. "Hello?" She said.

"I know what I said," I growled, only half-relieved. "I said 'we sat around all day and laid low.'"

My mother laughed and laughed, and if I weren't still worked up from earlier, I probably would have seen the humor in it, too. She asked, still half-laughing and entirely worried because she knows how I feel about phones in cars, "do you feel better now?"

"No," I pouted. "Not yet."

"You'll find it funny soon, too," my mom soothed. "I love you."

"Ilumyoutu," I mumbled. "I need to go, I'm driving."

"Okay, be safe," she said, still half-chuckling to herself. "I'll sort everything out with Dad. Love you."

We hung up. I got to Adam's and told him the story. I could tell he was trying very hard not to laugh as he rubbed my back and told me everything would be okay.

"I'm never going to be able to look your father in the eye again!" He exclaimed, only half-joking.

We went about our evening as planned.

My mother later told me that my father was doubled-over with laughter when she told him what I actually said. She said she'd find him chuckling to himself the rest of the day, standing in front of the open fridge for instance, muttering "laid low" and shaking his crazy, bald head.

Now, we just don't mention the incident, my dad and I. I have, however, begun to see the very awkward, slightly schadenfreud-ish humor in it. Likewise, I've come to the conclusion that I need to enunciate better, and maybe make sure my father's not half-asleep when imparting even the most mundane information.