Parents and Family

The letter from my elementary school came with our address hand-written. Even in the third grade, I knew that meant it was personal. I also had an inkling of what it might be about, but was aghast that any of my fellow 9 year-olds would tattle on me. I wasn’t aware that any of them took offense to my popular gag of peeing in the sink instead of the urinal, but maybe I was too focused on the semicircle of kids gathered around me laughing, rather than the little narc off in the corner taking notes.

I imagine it was a difficult letter for Mrs. Continue…

Every Sunday we have dinner with Lindsay’s mom, sister and her husband, their two kids, and our two kids. I suspect someone drops off some extra kids too, and possibly a raccoon. It’s mayhem, and a tradition that’s a vestige of a bygone century when children were quiet when asked; sat down when told; ate at “dinner time;” and hardly ever drew on each other’s faces. But those days are behind us, packed-up in a time capsule with joysticks, televisions with knobs, and cars without seat belts.

We rotate hosting duties, and each Sunday the nine of us cram into a home where the adults attempt to converse amidst the cacophony of pillow fort building and arguments over the propriety of a left-footed rollerblade. Continue…

Between the syncopated machine gun pops of Silas stomping on bubble wrap, I heard a flyer slide under the front door. “What’s it say?” Lindsay asked. “Either a sale on snow tires or a high school cupcake drive,” I responded. My kids started dancing, “CUPCAKES!”

”No, no, I was kidding.” And then a silence fell over the room. Even my dad was disappointed. So I broke my “never entertain hand-delivered offers” policy, and read it aloud.

“Victims of the Madoff Ponzi scheme have been forced to auction off their FINE PERSIAN RUGS at greatly reduced prices! Don’t miss this opportunity to get your very own FINE PERSIAN RUGS Continue…

My mother is an information superhero with her iPad Mini. Granted, she types with one finger, can’t synch it, and insists on plugging it in as soon as the battery drops below 75%, but when it comes to looking up information, her skills are unparalleled.

A week ago, while my dad and I were talking about Gene Hackman (why we were talking about Gene Hackman, I have no idea), I mentioned that it seems as if he hasn’t been in any movies recently, to which my dad responded, “Did you ever see him in that great one…what the hell was that called?” “The Firm?” I asked. Continue…

It’s either day 6 or 7. I can’t remember. After a while, the days without routine and electricity blend together into a foggy-headed smoothie that tastes like the middle of Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir” sounds. We’re all walking around with grim heavy-metal faces, but all feel confused and awkward, like maybe we accidentally ate some Percocet dusted catnip.

Jet-lagged and overly burdened with luggage (my mother insisted thay we pack nearly everything we owned), the four of us waited at the rental car counter. My father was nervous; not only did he have his wife and son with him, but also his son’s friend who would be joining our family for the year in Florence, Italy. My father may be gentle, but he’s not calm, and he has a general distrust of automobiles and other drivers. He was the same age I am now, so while I didn’t understand his anxiety then, I certainly do today.

When the rental attendant saw our mountain of bags, he was adamant that only a van could accommodate us. Continue…

We were driving Jeremy’s mom’s Mercury Topaz, so the police called his parents, even though I was the one throwing tennis balls out the window at passing vehicles. I would have only thrown one, but Jeremy started laughing, and that provided me with all the nerve I needed to hurl the remaning five.

The goal was to hit the windshield of an on-coming car, which had I been more successful, clearly would have resulted in numerous fatalities and an involuntary manslaughter conviction. Luckily, the complicated physics of throwing at a moving target from a moving vehicle was too much even for an ex-pitcher. Continue…

Except for my Dad, we all have colds. It’s a big snotty mess over here, and Arlo’s face looks like a 3-day-old glazed doughnut. Lindsay has always been able to ignore sicknesses, and do what has to be done, but my mom and I prefer to wallow in it, snorting and comparing symptoms. Bonding over misery has been a pillar of our relationship for two decades.

Me: Is yours mostly in your head? Because mine is mostly sinus related, but there’s also some dry coughing. The itch is deep in my chest too, so it’s not like cough drops will help. Continue…

I was thirteen years old when I told airport security my dad had a gun. Had it been post 9/11, we might have missed our international flight while a powdery latex glove attached to a GED recipient searched my father’s cavities.

He’d accepted a year-long teaching position in Florence, Italy. We invited my best friend “S.P.” to come with us; an offer he accepted with a vigor that stunned his parents into providing their blessing. I understand it seems odd for a thirteen year-old to up and leave for Europe with his friend’s parents. You should know that S.P’s name was Sigmund Polk Jones, and at eleven years old, he had thick black leg hair, wore colorful neckties to school, and had “dear friends” that were girls. Continue…

My parents arrived yesterday, but my dad’s juicer got here nearly three weeks ago. He mailed it way in advance to make absolutely sure he would have his juicer because, well, he “be juicin’” (his words).

This morning I drank a pint of liquified  chard, kale, apple, grape and some other healthy stuff (ginger maybe?). I’m usually annoyed when people claim food gives them energy because, after I eat, I want to fall asleep in the bath and wake up when it’s time to eat again. Such claims of food-based vitality only nurse the guilt I carry about my excessive caramel eating.  Continue…