Family Values

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Ever since I’ve started this blog (and way before I started, too), I get a lot of questions and comments about my writing interests, if I want to be a comedian, or where I’m going with all this stuff, etc. Mostly though, I get asked: where did all of this come from?  I’d like to take all the credit and just say how totally unique and hilarious I am, but as with every issue in life, I have to blame dear old mom and dad.

The first thing people usually say after meeting my parents is something along the lines of: “oh my god they’re soooo young”. By normal parent standards, they aren’t really that young, it’s not like a “16 and Pregnant” situation, but TBH they have both managed to stay in pretty good shape and not succumb to hideous asexual haircuts or shirts with spirit animals on them. Pair this with their prime genetics and I feel pretty certain that I will age like a fine wine, only getting hotter and more delightful with the passing years. Thanks Pete and Dina!

I bring this up because my personality is one that is loud, intense, controlling, and often vulgar…you know, you’ve read this shit. This can sometimes garner thoughts from the outside that my parents were perhaps absentee or flighty- that my personality is somehow a cry for attention (it is). Or maybe that I grew up in a house similar to the Osborne’s, where cursing and bad behavior is not only entertaining, but encouraged.

I am here to say that my fountain-of-youth parents are so far from that. But how did these two totally together people create such a beast? Honesty. Despite being on the younger side (my mom had me at 25, my dad: 29), my parents managed to raise a pretty decent human being, which was built, I believe, on the foundation of honesty.

Being born in the 60’s, my parents were surrounded by lies. When my mother was a young girl she found her first tampon in my grandma’s bag. When she questioned what it was my grandma quickly snatched it away and said “that’s for your father!” (Well done, Bette).  My dad was the middle child of three boys who learned all of their life lessons by getting smacked around with a belt on the regular.

I think when my parents discovered that it was their turn to bring a new human into the world, they wanted to try a different approach.

I seriously remember having at least three sex talks from my parents even though they implemented sex ed at my public school in 6th AND 8th grade. “Sex is fun!” “Sex feels good!”  “Embrace your body!” Got it Mom, thanks.

My brother and I quickly became the “why” children. We could ask any question under the sun and always get an answer.

“Why can’t we trick or treat at that house?”

“Because they’re on crack.”

“Why can’t we eat Wonder Bread?”

“It’s full of fake dyes and chemicals that make you fat.”

“You guys fight a lot, why don’t you just get a divorce?”

“Divorce is expensive.”

Nothing was ever said with judgment or ill will, it was just the facts.  My parents didn’t go out of their way to shield us from basic information.

I am a product of the 90’s, which means Titanic ruled a good portion of my early life. I was 7 when the Blockbuster hit came out, and my mom and dad eagerly bought the VHS two pack as soon as it was available. Like everyone on planet earth, I loved (and still love) the movie. I wanted to watch it all the time. There was this one part, however, that my parents would always fast forward through! I would sit on the couch, squinting, trying to figure out what the hell was going on and why they wouldn’t just let me watch it.

One day on the playground I finally sacked up and asked my friends if they knew what was happening.

“Hey do your parents ever fast forward through this one part of Titanic?”

“YES! I heard the girl takes her clothes off and Leo draws her naked!!!!”

“What? No. Not that part. I’ve seen that already.”

“YOU’VE SEEN THE NAKED PART?!”

I was getting nowhere with this crowd.

I finally watched the second VHS for myself while my parents weren’t home. I had to solve this. All these years I’d missed the scene where Lovejoy shoots the Irish guy and Fabrizio is all like “bastardo!” and then Lovejoy shoots himself. Do you know what I’m talking about?

My mom came home and I asked her why she had hidden this scene from my brother and me for all this time.

“What do you mean?” She said.

“Well, all the other kids at school who eat Wonder Bread said their parents fast forward through the naked part.”

“Why?”

“I don’t know.”

“I don’t have a problem with sex,” my mom shrugged. “I don’t like violence though.”

She walked away , leaving me feeling pretty satisfied with her answer, like always (notice here that I did not receive any punishment for watching this part of the film without supervision).

It went on like that for years, obviously a little easier with my mom when it came to female knowledge, but I would always get strange looks from my friends at parties when I’d call my parents and tell them I was too drunk to come home- giving them the exact location of where I was and what I was doing so I could get picked up. You actually told them where you where?

It’s not like they were telling me the Easter Bunny didn’t exist (though I’m sure they would have if I’d asked), they were just treating me like a human. My parents never talked down to me, never dismissed me, never took the shame of my poor choices as a reflection on themselves.  I’ve seen them as functioning party hosts, soccer coaches, PTA parents. I’ve also seen them drunk, crying, and even afraid. I’ve seen their hearts filled with pride and I’ve seen sheer disappointment. They always told me why. They never looked the other way.

As I grow into a woman, this brave woman with thoughts, opinions, and a little too much sass, I know it came from them. All of those eye rolls across the dinner table because I said penis too loud in front of my grandparents have made me exactly who I am right now.

Even though we’re not the picture perfect idea of what a family should be, I’d like to think we’re better than the Titanic- we’re unsinkable.

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