Saturday, August 26, 2006

Excuse Me While I Blow My Top

If you happened to be walking down Smith Street Saturday morning around 9:30 a.m., you may have seen me stomping my way to the grocery store, muttering and cursing to myself, kicking any pigeon that dared cross my path.

"What's HER problem?" you probably asked yourself, as you crossed to the other side of the street to avoid my menacing glare and foul temper.

The answer is: I don't know what to do about my parents. More specifically, my father. And last night on the phone, he set me off. More on this later.

Don't get me wrong. I love my folks (who thankfully, I believe, lost the URL to this blog). I think they did a pretty good job raising me. After all, I am a world-renowned brain surgeon rolling in piles of excess cash, much of which I use to help orphans in sub-Saraharan Africa. My handsome husband, a professional triathlete-slash-philosopher, and I have four lovely children, all with heads of curly strawberry-blonde hair, and we have enough free time to maintain homes in New York, Norway and and Napa. Life is good.

OK, none of that is even close to true, but I think I turned out all right. Unlike my father, who seems to measure the success of his life according to how high his pile of money grows, I measure my life in terms of experience and adventures (be they big or small). I know that someday, should I be responsible for someone other than myself, I will have to amass all the material items that go along with rearing a family or hell, having a dog. But still, I'm pretty happy with what I've done so far and I don't think it's NOTHING that I managed to hustle my way out of a friggin' corn field in the middle of South Dakota to become an actual real-life writer and manage to support myself in a city where a can of fucking soup costs seven dollars. (Chicken soup, on the other hand, only costs $2.75.)


Despite all of these things, after seven more or less successful years in New York, my parents will still never stop harping on me to move home. Perhaps their intent is only to express their wishes to see me more, but to me, it feels like a negative judgment on my life.

I never felt that at home in South Dakota for the 17 years I did live there. I always felt slightly out of place, like I was thinking about things that other people weren't, and I was often dreaming of far-off places and experiences of which I had no real-life conception. (Though maybe, that's just how it is to be a teenager. I don't really knokw.) I read a LOT, and luckily I kept myself busy enough (or my parents did) with piano and violin lessons and part-time jobs and track and cross country and cheerleading practices and symphony rehearsals and CHURCH twice a week on top of it to not get too bogged down in my increasingly rabid desire to GET THE HELL OUT and go someplace where "stuff happened." I guess maybe Mom and Dad thought it was a phase.

So last night I'm on the phone with Mom and Dad and out of the blue, in the middle of a conversation about the privitization of health care in the U.S. during the 1950s, my Dad, like some petulant three-year-old, blurts out, "I WANT YOU TO MOVE HOME TO SOUTH DAKOTA."

Well, gee, Dad, thanks, but no thanks. Let's examine the facts. (APOLOGIES to anyone from South Dakota -- I have a great deal of affection for the place, and certainly, it has its good points, its praises of which I have sung before in actual published material.)

South Dakota demographics: Everyone over 20 is married, or severely obese, IF NOT BOTH! This impinges on a goal I have that someday I will find lasting love, you know? Not to mention, there wouldn't even be anyone worth having miserable, empty sex with in the meantime.

South Dakota social opportunities: I know that Bel Biv Devoe is playing at the Sioux Falls Arena sometime very soon but you know, they are just SO 1990! I stopped eating at chain restaurants about nine years ago so your Applebee's Boneless Buffalo Wings hold little appeal for me. I guess we'll just have to go pheasant hunting. Again.

South Dakota career opportunities: Dad thinks that being a manager at a Kinko's in South Dakota is in my future, since I will be "printing," and therefore in some capacity, "a journalist." I was thinking more of an exciting career in credit-card processing. Think of all the envelopes to be stuffed, the angry customers on whom I can wait! They'll finally have a formidable opponent on the phone to inform them that in fact no, they may not have their APR reduced from 27.25 to zero for a limited time only!

South Dakota political climate: Everyone in South Dakota watches Fox news, and I don't think I need to say any more, then, about how out of place I would be among all these God Bless America, George Bush Can Do No Wrong, Evengelical Christian Conservatives. It's gotten to the point where I actually have hard times having conversations when I go back to visit. Even the Democrats there aren't much better, or at least they lack the snooty tact of East Cost Democrats. Case in point: In an article in the New Yorker about a recent anti-abortion bill in South Dakota, the author writes: “One petition volunteer told me, that a man marched up to her on the post-office steps and said heartily, as he signed [a petition to vote on rescinding a bill to ban all abortions] “Good for you for doing this. I hope Bill Napoli has a daughter who gets raped by a nigger.” [Bill Napoli is a SD state senator who said he'd except a total ban on abortions in the state only for a "religious virgin" who was brutalized and raped, but not for just regular old plain rape, which is TONS of fun.] DEAR GOD WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE? Anyway, for now, I think I'll be sticking with New York, where even the crazies seem more sane to me than people who want to go back to back-alley abortions.

But the thing that REALLY chaps my ass about this whole thing is that when I DO see my parents (and, really, I see them a lot -- I would say extended visits at LEAST six times a year), often my dad has drunk himself into such a stupor I truly believe he doesn't even know I'm there! He passes out at dinner. He slurs and can't follow conversations. Last time I was home, he was so tanked he dropped a piece of fish on my leg straight out of the fryer! Luckily my reflexes were intact so I avoided any third degree burns, but spending more time at home only so I can have boiling fish flung at me and have someone pass out while I'm trying to talk to them, well, no thanks. I'm not trying to libel my father here, and I like to hit the bottle as much as the next guy, but I try to stop before my face ends up in my plate of mashed potatoes. I know it's not his fault (or not all of it, anyway), but it's got to stop, or at least, be curtailed somewhat.

Anyway, I'm just venting, so sorry. It's not funny, and it's not well written, but I feel slightly better. Now back to work.


Blogger Mike said...

You're not hitting the bottle hard enough if you're on Smith Street at 9:30 AM on Saturday. Clearly.

11:18 AM  

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