Living with my 90 year old conservative Christian parents has had its share of challenges. There’s been arguments. Usually political. But those differences work their way into other insignificant disagreements as well. I’m genuinely working to improve the way I handle these things on my end. This particular week has added to that challenge. I haven’t been keeping myself properly hydrated since this heat & humidity kicked in. Too much coffee and not enough water has resulted in a UTI. So it stings when I pee. I’m drinking lots of water and it’s getting better, but it doesn’t help ease tensions within.
There’s a bit too many similarities to how things were 40 years ago living with m&d. Our unchanging differences, this floppy-eared schnauzer that’s almost identical to my childhood dog, all going out to dinner at Auntie M’s. I often have flashbacks to how things were back when I was a bratty kid. Only now I’m an adult. But that child’s behavior is still there wanting to rear it’s ugly head. And this was exactly the sort of thing I’m trying to work on. To eliminate those tendencies from my collection hiding beneath the surface.
Right around the block from us lives my Auntie M & cousin Ben. And today is Ben’s birthday. So the four of us went to their house for Rubens and chocolate cake to celebrate. It’s my dad, mom, & Shotzi headed over to their house. 5pm sharp.
Oh, and they have three big dogs -Dud, Bud & Missy. One of which is a brand new, over-energetic Chocolate Lab puppy – Bud. Our 8 year old schnauzer has already met the new pup, and hates him. He’s flipped her on her back a couple times already. In fact, I think it’s safe to say all the dogs are as annoyed with the new puppy as we all are.
I’m carrying Schotzi in my arms as the three of us are approaching the door. Bud had previously ran right through this door knocking out the screen. So when we arrived there was no containing him. He came pouncing at us all at his peak of hyper upon our arrival, bouncing up and down trying to get at Schotzi in my arms.
My dad and mom are in front of me, and they’ve stopped moving into the house. That’s what you do when you’re entering someone’s home. You stop on the floor mat and say hello to the room while you wipe your feet! My folks were oblivious to the storm building behind them.
Ben had come outside to retrieve the dogs that escaped, but now he’s pushing us from behind trying to close the door. This is when Bud hooked his front paws onto my pants and pulled the entire left side of them down to my knees, exposing my bright aqua boxer briefs in front of everybody. My mom, dad, cousin and aunt. The whole family. I’m struggling to keep from pushing my rickety father forward while my pants are down at my knees. Laughter and barking is all that can be heard as this unrestrained pup reigns hellfire upon us all. And that’s when I fully stumbled forward pushing my dad from behind.
Luckily he steps to the side, but I’m continuing to get pushed forward by the crowd of animals and people behind me. That’s when my legs get tripped up by this oversized footstool and it brings me down in a humiliating pile of furniture and dogs falling forward in slowmo. I hit the ground, spilling Schotzi from my arms, and I basically flop like a dead fish onto the floor. It was dramatic enough to fling my eye glasses across the floor and under the table.
All I hear is laughter. None of it from me. It was rough having to look up and everyone is laughing uncontrollably at me. I could feel my face turning red. And everyone else had resigned from doing anything to help. Shotzi was still in a fit of rage. And so was I.
I got up, pulled up my goddamn pants, and yelled, “SOMEONE IS GOING TO GET HURT!” for some reason.
I was mad, and embarrassed.
“I’m taking Schotzi home.” and I scooped her up, and while I was storming out my aunt yelled, “Are you coming back for dinner??”
“I NEED A MINUTE!!” As I slammed the door behind me.
P2 – Hot Stew
On the way home I stewed. I was embarrassed. I could feel my face still red, and I did not want to come back at all. This’ll be a story to be told again and again, and I gotta be that guy in that story. And did I mention, it stings when I pee still?
I wanted to pout. I wanted them to feel bad. I wanted to cancel dinner and make a scene. In fact, maybe that’s what I’ll do. I’ll just not go back and not call and that’ll make them think twice!
This was exactly the sort of thing I was trying to work on. So when I got home I sat in the family room with my dog and I smoked a bowl.
I sat there with Shotzi staring out the window thinking of the different ways I could handle this situation. How the rest of the evening would go was in my hands. And it was then I realized how this situation I am in is actually very very good.
• I can do whatever I want, say whatever I please, just as long as I’m a good sport.
When I fully realized this fact, all the anxiety vanished instantly. Like magic. Because adult Bob knows how to be a good sport. Especially if I’m stoned.
So I got high, promised my dog a walk upon my return, and headed back on over to my cousin’s birthday dinner without a care in the world.
They were just finishing their Rubens and cutting the cake when I showed up. My aunt asked me very kindly if I was alright. And I could tell they were all anticipating the various ways this could possibly go.
Standing there in front of them all I spoke.
“I decided there’s actually a benefit to having had my pants pulled down, and then pushed to the ground in front of you all this evening. Falling on my face to the sound of laughter from you all, my family.”
Only stunned silence as I continued.
“I realized, as long as I’m a good sport about what happened tonight, I can do whatever I want for the rest of the evening. So I smoked a bowl! I’m really stoned, and I am looking forward to this Ruben sandwich!”
Then I pulled up a chair and truly enjoyed that fuckin sandwich. And it was all sooooooo good.
Happy Birthday Ben!
P3 – Their Response
Everyone’s immediate response was shock. There was no laughter, smiles, or even a “Good for you!”
While I spoke it looked like they were expecting me to pull eggs out of my pockets and start using their faces for target practice. They were all simply stunned. And I cannot deny this felt good to me.
My Aunt was the first to say, “Well that’s good to hear. And I’m sorry for laughing Bob. We couldn’t help it. It was so outrageous!”
My mother’s first words were, “I never found it funny. I hated it. I’ve never liked slapstick humor!”
So she didn’t have to apologize.
And I’ve heard her say any combination of those 3 sentences probably a dozen times since. But in the days to follow she’s expressed to me how completely astonished she was that I could do that. “I could never do that. Never. I don’t know how you did it.” Which is the #1 reason why when I finally left to take Schotzi on a walk (and write this story), my departing words were, “I was just trying to be a good example.”
And my father’s reaction? – “What’s he talking about? He wants cake??”
When he finally did get the full picture he kinda shook his head with disgust and went back to eating his cake. You’re hard pressed to get a reaction outta my dad when there’s a dessert in front of him. But in the end they (Ben included) all acknowledged how impressed they were I had that in me and apologized for laughing.
I’ve had to control myself in some really harsh situations in NYC. But it’s at a different level when its, say, your own mother, for instance. Here a few days later she’s had the strongest response. Like she’d witnessed a miracle happen right before her eyes, and no way to explain it. I’d love to find out she took notes.