It’s Fun To Talk About The Parents

It’s fun to talk about our parents; how cool or horrid they are/were, what they’ve done, undone or not done. I used to talk about mine all the time. Truly they had a lot to do with me, my childhood, reasons I had for being who I was or wasn’t. Who I would or wouldn’t be was closely tied to who they were to me.
They have a story too. My parents were both the oldest child in their families. They both had a younger sibling – I think each by six years – of the same gender. And they were both made to toe a line their younger siblings never saw.
 No one ever showed them this poster, spoke those words or intimated in any way that they could do what they wanted or were suited for.
In photos my mother is always the prettiest and most “out there,” her verve and sense of herself are well apparent.
My father could be seen instantly as the one whose face was the most contorted in a sneer, as if he perpetually smelled shit. I think he did. Laid back he was not.
Graduating from MIT at 20 he had been pushed to excel and learn in far away boarding schools – cram schools – and close to home mechanical engineering for toddlers. My grandfather was older and determined to see his son take over his business.
An instant photo of my grandfather would have seen him at 96 still holding the reins of the business, still making notes, decisions and designing the next whatever he thought was needed. He came home from the office one day, got a toothpick for his cigarette of the day (so he could smoke it to the quick) sat in his chair with the paper and his allotment of bourbon and died – after he’d had them all.
My parents met in Boston while my dad was at MIT. My aunt was driving in a convertable with several friends – remember, she was the younger, sibling with privileges – when my father saw her and yelled (he was in a convertable with his friends) to her did she have an older sister. She did and they met later at a party.
When all the hoops of the age had been jumped – my father asked her father etc. – they planned a wedding. My grandfather forbade them to marry right away. They must wait. When they did marry my grandfather found a suitable apartment for them near his home. They were to live there, dinner on Friday night, outings on the weekends and my mother spending time with my grandmother on specified days.
In my grandparents house the menu was unyielding. A two week menu, they would have the same dinner every other Tuesday. And Wednesday – and every other night of the week and week end.
This does not encourage playfulness or improvisation, nor was it meant to. So when I write about my parents trying to direct me and my rebellion of and from them – luckily they were not wholehearted in their efforts – I understand where they are coming from but don’t always explore their sides. Being the recipient of a fraction of the pressure they endured did not open my heart to compassion for them. That would happen much – much later.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *