My parents hit 35 years married this week. Accordingly, I present this list. By no means comprehensive. Just a lil nugget.
Things My Parents Have Taught Me
(In no particular order)
1. The Nuance of the Brake Pedal: My dad always beat the rule into my head—When using the parking brake, FIRST apply brake, THEN put the car in park. Better for the transmission. I’m so rigid about following this, you’d think it was written in the Bible.
2. “No good deed goes unpunished.” My mom says this all the time. It’s her way of reminding us that we live in a world that takes advantage of kindness. So be judicious about what, how and who you go above and beyond for.
3. The Nuance Of The Kitchen Utensil: My mom is all too happy to tell you that there IS a difference between a normal spoon and a spaghetti spoon. And hell if I’ll ever be able to figure it out.
4. Appreciate your siblings. Both my parents have younger brothers who died ahead of their time. When we’re getting petty with one another, one of them always plays that card. “I used to have a brother, and now I don’t.”
5. How to bargain shop. My mom is famous for saying, “50% off of Too Much is still Too Much.” I have since re-purposed that phrase and often throw it at her. “50% off of Shit We Don’t Need is still SHIT WE DON’T NEED.” She usually cracks up at me and then proceeds to buy it anyway.
6.Think before you speak. (Some of us are better at that than others.)
A conversation between my dad and a middle school-aged Blair:
B: *singing at the top of her lungs*
Dad: Hey, B. What ever happened to those voice lessons I paid for?
B: DAD! I AM STILL TAKING THEM!!
7. Immunity to Embarrassment. My dad has a corvette that I absolutely loathed when I was a child because it was so loud and drew so much attention and I do NOT like to be the center of attention. Dad knew this and only drove it around me if absolutely necessary. Like when the Greasers and the Socs had a knife fight and the tires on every single one of our everyday vehicles was slashed in the kerfuffle. One time he drove it to pick me up from tennis practice. I could hear it coming from about a half-mile away. I put my head in my hands, devastated, and said, “Oh, no. Here comes my father.” My tennis coach looked at me quizzically and said, “is he coming in an airplane?” WANTED. TO. DIE.
8. Hard Work. No excuses. My dad would always tell me that working your hardest at a job you really hate will speak volumes about your character. I don’t ever recall my dad missing a day of work. My mom always told us there is very little in life you can’t do if you are willing to work hard for it.
9. Stick Together. Whenever the three of us were off to do something in public, my dad would always warn: “Stay together. Don’t wander off from the group. Keep an eye on each other.” I pretty much knew that meant, "Taylor, don’t let these boneheads out of your sight."
10. Have fun above all. My mom’s famous last words before we were off to do something in public was ALWAYS, ALWAYS, “HAVE FUN!!!!” I pretty much knew that meant, "Taylor, don’t let these boneheads out of your sight."
11. The Importance of Modesty. In high school and college, I could always tell when my issues of Rolling Stone magazine had come in the mail because as my dad rummaged through the days drop, I could hear him yelling. “WHAT IS THIS SMUT?!?!” “WHAT A HO!!” “PUT SOME CLOTHES ON!” “HOW IS THIS MUSIC?!?!?” “TAYLOR! WHAT IS THIS GARBAGE??” (Things changed drastically once I introduced him to Matt Taibbi, though. I’d come home and he’d practically have all the political articles highlighted and underlined. “You gotta read this one. I don’t know how that guy gets away with saying half the stuff he does. He just GOES AFTER them!”)
12. Loyalty. My dad has been a Washington Redskins fan since the 1970’s. He sticks with them through all their line-up changes, decades of disastrous seasons, coaching changes, bad management, you name it.
13. Loyalty. Part II. My dad has been a Chevy guy since, well, forever. His dad was also a Chevy man. We ventured out, only once, buying a Dodge that we didn’t really care for, and that was that. Ever since then, it’s General Motors or nothing. We regularly get 10 or so years out of each car; 200,000 miles, and they all do everything we ask of them. I remember him telling me once, “Chevy’s take a lot of shit because they’re just bread and butter cars. There is nothing flashy about them.” As I left that conversation, I thought, “that makes perfect sense, cuz that’s who my dad is. A real bread and butter kind of guy.”
14. How to stay young. My parents keep up to date on trends, current music, encyclopedic knowledge of movies, celebrities, pop culture, slang, etc.
-My mom has facebook, tumblr, twitter, instagram and snap chat. She may not always know how to use it correctly, but she makes sure she stays in the conversation.
-My brother came to me one day to tell me about what he’d just witnessed as he watched my dad get ready for a party:
"So, dad grabs this jacket out of his closet and puts it on and walks down stairs. As he gets to the mirror, he looks himself over and shakes his head. Then, with perfect inflection, usage, everything, he rips the jacket off and says, ‘This jacket is whack. I’m not wearing this.’"
And, I think it’s important to note, even when I thought my parents were demons from hell out to ruin my life, I never, ever went through that phase where you’re embarrassed of them and don’t want them to socialize with your friends.
15. Stay Curious. My dad loves to work out and has tried everything. Yoga, Tae kwon do, Kung Fu, Ballroom dance, jogging, swimming, tai chi, meditation. Anything he thinks he might like, he’ll try. My mom has volunteered at our local theatre, works all kinds of festivals for the free tickets, likes water aerobics, and, God help us all, took a spin at a tap dance class.
…….And ta-da! That’s how you end up with the 4 weirdo children that are my siblings and I.