Issue #130 – “Bear a Parent” – May 27th, 2008

-My sister and I have often debated which is most irritating: talking to our parents when they’re both on the line together, talking to our parents one right after the other, or telling a story to one parent, only to have them relay it incorrectly to the other.  The answer is a toss-up, but I’ve realized – as we stand halfway between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day – that it is possible to have a strong relationship with your parents and simultaneously be infuriated by them.  Some twentysomethings can hardly bear their parents.  Others treat their moms and dads like sisters or brothers (which is weird).  When it comes to the delicate parent/child relationship, though, I’m kind of in the middle – appreciating their unconditional support, while wishing they were just a little less annoying about it.

-I essentially serve as the buffer between my parents and the Internet.  If my mom has a question about the latest episode of “Lost,” she calls me, I look it up on Lostpedia, and then give her the scoop.  When my dad wants a book, he calls me, I order it on Amazon, and have it sent to him.  It’s all very efficient – for them.

-Back in Ruminations #108, I bemoaned the fact that my parents don’t know how to text message.  I got a surprising number of responses from readers who said this was a blessing, not a curse.  Apparently, once parents learn how to text message, they don’t stop.  And the last thing I need is my dad texting in his book orders.  Plus it took me about three years to get my mom to configure her Bluetooth headset properly – I’m afraid if she hits any button but “Call” all my hard work will go to shit.

-I think my mom is starting to come to the realization that I will not be giving her grandchildren anytime soon.  I’m very honest – I tell her I don’t plan on getting married until at least my mid-thirties, let alone having kids.  And you can just see that look on her face – that look that says, “I raised you and put up with all your bullshit and you can’t do this one lousy fucking thing for me?”  As if summarizing every episode of “Lost” for her isn’t enough.

-A few weeks ago, my dad and I went to what will most likely be our last game at the old Yankee Stadium before it gets torn down.  We witnessed many memorable moments at that ballpark: Tommy John making three errors on one play in 1988, snow on Opening Day in 1996, Jeter diving headfirst into the stands in 2004 against the Sox.  I think baseball is such a point of bonding between fathers and sons because it combines tradition, beer, and not having to look directly at one another.  Otherwise it just feels weird.

-Even though we’re supposed to be turning into our parents, lately I feel like my mom has been turning into me.  Suddenly she has trouble sleeping (something I’ve suffered with for years), and has no patience for idle banter (a personal hallmark of mine).  But the final straw came a few months ago, when I was home visiting and dropped my mom off for work so I could have the car for the day.  Strangely enough, I found myself waiting an extra minute until she got all the way inside – before she waved enthusiastically while holding her lunch as I drove off.

-Sometimes I feel like my family is a sitcom: loud, balding father, doting mother, mischievous older brother, overachieving younger sister.  Then I remember that’s The Simpsons (minus Maggie).  Still, I’m fortunate that my parents have provided more laughs than agitation over the years (barely).  Now that we live on opposite ends of the country, it’s good to know that they’ve always got my back – and that they won’t be visiting any time soon.

-As always, here are some random things I’ve been ruminating about lately…

-I have mixed feelings about my friends who have employed the feature on their cell phone that forces the caller to listen to music instead of ringing.  I can’t decide whether to punch them in the face or merely never call them again.

-Does the bottom of a Listerine bottle have backwash?

-I haven’t been able to shake this horrible cold that has been plaguing me for weeks.  There is one benefit, however, of going so long without an appetite: I’ve actually dropped to the heretofore impossibly light weight that I entered for myself on my driver’s license.

-Since I’ve been sick, I’ve been ordering a lot of hot tea, which I usually never drink.  What the fuck is up with tea?  Did you know that you can’t just get regular tea anymore?  They hurl an obscene number of variations at you, none of which sound appetizing.  Do I want chai or chamomile?  Um, how about neither.

-Drinking a lot of tea makes me pee a lot.  Pee is very simple; it’s the opposite of tea.  There are only three colors of pee: regular, clear (after heavy drinking), or Day-Glo (if you’re taking some sort of medication).  There are also only two odors: regular and, occasionally, asparagus.  Now those are choices I can live with.

-People who wear sunglasses indoors have been made fun of since time immemorial.  But I actually don’t have a problem with that – if you’re gonna be a douchebag, at least go all the way.  It actually bothers me more when people wear sunglasses outdoors but it’s obviously too hazy or cloudy to necessitate it.  Either take off those aviators or go inside with them on – but don’t half-ass it.

-One of my guilty pleasures is receiving free, personalized return address labels from charities I have no intention of donating to.

-And, finally, I leave you with my favorite mom story of all time.  At the beginning of the year, my mom was at the mall and decided to buy a new wall calendar.  Like a typical mom, she chose one with a different pretty flower each month.  She happily hung the calendar in her office and went about her business.  Several uneventful months went by.  Then, about six weeks ago, a co-worker was standing in my mom’s office and said to her, “That’s quite an interesting calendar you have there.”  My mom thanked him, flattered that someone else liked the pretty flower calendar she had picked out.  And that’s when her co-worker informed her that these weren’t just any pretty flowers.  For the past four months, my mom had unintentionally been displaying a calendar full of marijuana plants.  My mom had absolutely no idea and no one else noticed (or admitted they noticed) until that moment.  She had a laugh and then called to tell me the story.  She also told me she had decided to leave the calendar on the wall.  After all, they were still pretty flowers.  That story alone is worth a few more summaries of “Lost” – and maybe even a couple of grandchildren.  Fuck me!