Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Death by Soda

           It was 5 am, Thanksgiving day. Helen got up early to finish the turkey, make the sides, and uncan that disgusting red cranberry sauce everyone in the family except her seemed to love. It made a weird slicking noise as it came out of the can. Shudder. Like your Aunt Catherine's jello that have been left out from the Church bake sale for 3 weeks because everyone was afraid to touch it. If she could just get through the next 8 hrs. for family she would finally be free to head off to her local Wallymart and get the coveted 82 inch ultraslim HDTV with remote. She had been saving up for 6 months to afford this new beauty to watch her beloved soap operas now that the kids were heading off to college, and she just knew this was the start of a long overdue rest. With Dan and 5 kids, the house never had quiet time.
           Thanksgiving was a total blur before the dancing TV screen in her head. Finally at 8 pm, she managed to get rid of the her odd-ball brother's girlfriend of the year and her oh so charming son, Dillert. Honestly, who names their kid Dillert? It was demented and asking for trouble. Like pasting a giant kick-me sign on your offspring. Well, another 8 years and the kid would be free to screw up his own life no thanks to his own Mom.
            Helen packed her car with the necessary drinks, energy snacks, and a cooler full of  turkey sandwiches. She proceeded over to the local mart and bundled herself in line. The night got cool and the line began to grow as midnight drew near. Finally, the employees arrived, stuffed with turkey and the local beat cop sleepily got out of his car. The crowd was dense, but not nearly as bad as people liked to believe on the news. The simple fact was most people preferred to be in bed sleeping off the turkey platters than huddled early in the morning cold on Black Friday. The employees started letting everyone in at 12:03. Helen spotted her cart and she was off down the aisle. 576 steps, 4 aisles and 2 helpful sleepy employees later, Helen had the Mega 82 inch ultraslim HDTV safely packed in her cart.
             The cart pulled slightly to the right on it's squeaky wheel, but with only 315 steps to the register, she knew she could make it. The best Santa sleigh gift ever. Suddenly, as she rounded the corner, she saw a wide-eyed small child in front of her, all decked out in a darling pink sleeper with feet. A small bunny was clutched in on hand. She desperately pulled back trying not to hit the sleepy infant. As she breathed a deep sigh of relief as the cart stopped, she failed to notice the it was tipped slightly backwards toward the large 3 liter soda display to her.
              Down came the cans and bottles one wicked thud at a time. "Mommy, mommy, that lady is getting all the soda." wafted up to her from the cracked tile.
              Her last thought was, "Oh, no. What will the papers read?"


Saturday, November 19, 2011

Waking up to "I love you"

             The throw-a-way first kid. I always got Gattaca, it was my story growing up. My mom had me as a last-ditch attempt to save her marriage with my father (which didn't work) and then later had my brother who I think she actually wanted, but by then it was probably too late for me. It was certainly too late for the marriage. As a child I knew none of this, I just felt this odd sense that I should be loved, that my parents told me I was loved, but somehow it never seemed to quite fit. I mean I knew I was never my mom or dad's favorite. But as I got older, I observed this huge gap between the way my brother appeared to be treated, and the way I was actually treated. Actually, the way anyone else I met parents' treated them.
              I even got told I was simply a parasite because all children are parasites to their parents. By the age of thirteen, I was trying to make sense of this crazy as my family was falling apart. Kids want desperately to be loved by their parents. It honestly seemed easier to think that I wasn't measuring up to my parents' demands for me to finally be loved or simply misreading people in general, than to question if they were ever capable of loving me in the first place. Perhaps it was I was a girl, or not making good enough grades, or tall, enough, or pretty enough. High school is a place for insecurity. It breeds like pimples.
              But eventually, if you don't die, you get older, and bruise your way through the real life, and none of the lies your parents tell you still make sense. And one day, you get tired of it. Just bone weary of the lies. And the not making sense. And you say screw it and you walk away. Because it's easier. Because you don't think you will stay sane if it continues. Because you feel you have no other choice.
              And eventually, you parents aren't dead. Everyone else thinks they are great people. Maybe I was wrong. But you weren't, you aren't wrong. And maybe it takes you getting burned a few more times to realize that. Because the one thing you needed from your folks, is the one thing your parents never had to give you. You can not buy love. Not with money. Not with time. You can not create it where it does not exist. You can create affection, you can create like, you can even form a relationship. But love, no.
              Frankly, I couldn't live with realizing that and talking to my folks every day and pretending. But that's a hard truth for anyone to handle. That they were never loved by their parents, just a convenient band-aid for a problem their folks actually wanted to deal with. But if it's true and you can face it, if you are lucky enough to find someone who actually means it when they say, "I love you." Then you wouldn't trade all the tea in China for getting to hear that in the morning.
             And now, I get to hear it every morning.