The storm came in with a thud last weekend. Lights flickered, tree limbs came hurtling to the ground like they were flung directly from the heavens and streets flooded in moments. There was a collective apprehension as all feared the worst, a bracing by the masses when the storm puffed its cheeks and blew its force and a slight relaxing of the shoulders when the mass of the storm left for other locales.
In other words, my parents came and left this past weekend.
Now, don’t get me wrong, there has never been an adult who loves his or her parents as much as I love mine. My father is probably my best friend in the world, and my mother is ... well, Mommy. They both make me laugh, teach me about life and still crack my backside when I inevitably do something wrong to someone else — like that time I took the ice cream cone from that kid on the boardwalk and smushed it on his forehead so the seagulls would flock to that pointy little head ...
But I digress.
The point is, my parents came out to visit me. It’s an interesting dynamic, this relationship between a man in his late-30s and his parents. See, logic would hold that as a person becomes an adult, that individual becomes a social equal to his or her parents. Oh, sure, there is a respect for the parents based on the elders being the life-teachers and source of existence itself for the offspring, but still, one could assume that the relationship becomes more friend-friend than pupil-teacher as time and experiences lengthen for both sides.
Well, not so much. My father walks in, I have an irresistible urge to take him in the back yard and show him that I can throw a spiral. My mother comes into the picture, I want to sit down and show her that I can conjugate verbs and end a sentence without a participle at the end, just hanging on.
Yes, that was intentional. Put down your pens. That was meant strictly to drive my mother crazy when she reads this.
It’s just an odd thing. I’m a grown man. I own my house. I helped start a successful newspaper, and I’m surrounded by people that I respect and love. But my parents fly in from Denver, and I instantly become that quivering 8-year-old with a crooked smile and a head full of hair ...
Oh, shut up.
So, when does this end? Or, more to the point, does this end? Will there ever be a time when I don’t lower my head and mumble under my breath when my mother tells me to take out the trash — in my own bleeping house? Is there a stitch in time to cross over that allows me to not pull out my toys and try to impress my father? Or, as I am beginning to realize, are we just always our parents’ children?
I’m guessing the latter.
Now, some things have changed. For instance, I now willingly participate with my mother when we talk about things like ancient Rome and great writers, and I value everything she says — as opposed to the past when I would get a glazed look in my eyes and wonder if Heather Thomas would be wearing the pink bikini in that night’s “Fall Guy” episode on the television. Also, my father and I can now sit and enjoy cigars and Irish whiskey together as we watch a ball game or poker tournament — a far cry from him watching the game in one room while my friends and I swiped a bottle from his liquor cabinet.
And I treasure those new experiences.
However, there are a few new ones that I’m not so sure about yet. For instance, for years my father joked that I had the smallest arms in the world because they wouldn’t reach my wallet when the bill arrived for anything. Now, he fights me for bills — though I noticed he does it less vehemently as he nears retirement. Also, my mother doesn’t correct me when I throw an “ain’t” or “me and John” out in a conversation the way she did when I was younger. Oh, her head still spins around like she is in need of an exorcism, but she sees that I’m smiling or looking right at her and she shakes her head and goes back to what she was doing. It’s not as fun to pick a scab on someone when they know what you’re doing.
But I’m resigned to the fact that little else will change over time. I’ve heard the old adage — your parents take care of you when you’re small, then you take care of them when they’re old. It even makes sense, and I realize that love and personal responsibility will hopefully demand that of my time and energy one day.
Yet, as I think about that time, I think I’ll still try to spiral a football for one, and talk Hemingway with the other.