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Posts Tagged ‘secrets’

My dad is 71 (you’d never guess it, though), and I’ve realized fairly recently that I don’t know nearly enough of his stories.

I know about our family, yes, but I don’t know his stories. The fun stuff.

I don’t know the craziest thing he’s ever done.

I don’t know who his best friends were (or are).

I don’t know what he’s most proud of.

And until recently, I didn’t know something as simple as who his favorite baseball team was growing up.

Usually, when I call home, I talk to my mom. We talk about anything and everything at length, and she humors me, even though I know that I’m the one dragging the conversation out.

When I talk to my dad, it’s usually about sports. Depending on the season, we’ll dissect what the Eagles or, right now, the Phillies are doing wrong. I’ll rant about Kendrick and Qualls as he listens patiently. And though I knew he grew up in New York, rooting for “anyone but the Yankees,” I never actually knew who his longtime favorite was.

So when he and my mom came down for my graduation, and we spent the day walking around Arlington National Cemetery, I took the time and simply asked.

The Cincinnati Reds,” he replied.

I wracked my brain to think of the connection, but couldn’t come up with one.

Why the Reds?

He thought for a moment before answering. He always does, and his answers are more intentional that way.

Maybe because they were really great while I was growing up. [beat] Or maybe because they were the ones who recruited me.

I’m slow sometimes.

Recruited you to do what?

To play. In 1959 they offered me a signing bonus to come up through their system.

As you might expect, I had a million questions, not least of which was, how have I never heard this before?

I guess the short answer would be because he didn’t take the offer. But the fact that something so amazing, so potentially life-altering,┬áis in his history and I had absolutely no idea is mind-boggling to me.

It makes me wonder what other stories he has hidden up his sleeve.

And now seems as good a time as any to ask him.

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My parents, like most, I’m assuming (God, please don’t let it just be mine), absolutely loved messing with my head while I was growing up (in the nicest, most let’s-make-parenting-a-little-more-fun way possible, of course). Considering that they still like to mess with me, this list of “sure-fired ways to lie to/confuse your children” could conceivably grow. But, for now:

1) My parents speak in abbrevs.

No, they don’t LOL, say OMG, or even WTF (although I’m trying to get that one to catch on). They abbreviate, well, anything. It started when my brother and I were little, to keep us from understanding what they were saying. They’d ask each other, “So, are we going to let them watch DQMW with us tonight?” (We always watched Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman as a family – you know, before Jane Seymour was “Kitty Kat.”) So I grew up thinking everyone did that – everyone spoke in abbreviations. Why say the whole name of a TV show, movie, book, friend, place you were going, ANYTHING, when you could just use a couple letters?

My friends? Not amused.

My parents still speak like that. “Sorry, honey. Can’t talk now. GA’s on.” Old habits die hard.

2) They make up words (or change the meaning).

Has anyone ever called you a pita? Probably not (unless it was me). Until high school, I thought that when my parents called me a pita, it was just some word in another language that I didn’t completely understand. I got the gist – they only used it when I was irritating them. When I was being a pain. Or, more specifically, a pain in the ass.

Oh. My. God.

I felt like an idiot for not understanding sooner. And then proceeded to use the word constantly – so useful.

3) It’s not just words – they change whole phrases!

I’ve mentioned “one swell foop,” but what about “61 and a half-dozen others”? Oh, I’m sorry, you don’t know that one? How about the real one: “six of one, a half-dozen of the other”? It makes a little more sense that way when you’re comparing things, no? However, due to parental programming, I still have to think through both responses in my head before speaking. Because when a visiting friend asks, “Well, should I take Route X or Route Y?” and I respond, “Oh, you know, 61 and a half-dozen others,” I just get blank stares.

4) They lie to protect their own secrets.

As a kid, I used to snore. I was self-conscious about it, especially considering my friends would make fun of me after a sleepover. So I asked my mom if she snored. “No, honey, girls don’t snore.” What?! Girls don’t snore? What the hell was wrong with me? My brother’s snoring could wake the dead; I prayed to God I didn’t sound like that. And then, one morning, I walked into my mom’s room and heard her snoring! I distinctly remember shaking her awake: “You were snoring! You told me that girls don’t snore!” She opened her eyes and looked at me: “Oh, yeah. I guess I lied to you.

5) They pretend to be in cahoots with the Easter Bunny (and Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy).

Growing up, we spent every Easter at our grandparents’ house, where my brother and I shared a room and plotted as to how to stay up and catch the Easter Bunny in action. Our parents warned us that if we were awake, the Easter Bunny wouldn’t come (same rule applied for Santa Claus – I think it’s pretty universal). We tried every year; fell asleep every year; and, ultimately, there were Easter baskets waiting for us, every year. Except when there weren’t. Except the one morning when we rushed out of our room and there were no baskets, no hidden eggs, no hint that it was anything other than a normal Sunday.

After traipsing upstairs to proclaim this injustice to Mom and Dad, we found our Easter baskets sitting at the foot of their bed! “I guess you two just stayed up so late that the Easter Bunny delivered them here, instead.” I now realize that’s parent-code for: “I was too lazy to bring these downstairs and I knew I could make up something you’d believe.” Well played. I’m taking notes.

On the plus side, some of these tricks have already proven very useful in babysitting. However, the word-based trickery still gets me. But I’m working on it, one step at a time. I know it won’t all happen in one swell foop.

Dammit!

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