My mother set the clothes-iron down, yawned, and stretched. She had to be up early the next day. It was late and she was tired. I’d finished the Sunday dinner dishes and promptly beached myself on the couch, perfecting the art of corpulent lolling before heading off to work.
Some people think that’s that weird – wake up, drive to your parents’ house, and gorge on kielbasa, pierogies, and haluski for morning chow, but I…
Listen here, you insensitive bigot – thinking it’s “weird” is shaming language! Attempting to marginalize a certain ruggedly handsome Night Shift Worker like that is hateful and wrong. You ignorant daywalkers need your noses rubbed in your Circadian Privilege until I decide you’re tolerant enough.
And stop interrupting me. It’s emotionally abusive.
As I was saying:
I stood, yawned myself, and patted down my pockets, feeling for all my gear. Leaving one’s trauma shears or stethoscope under your mother’s couch cushions is considered poor form in emergency medicine. Satisfied with the state of my pockets, I hugged my mom goodbye, and admonished her to get some sleep.
“I will, as soon as I’ve ironed your father’s clothes.”
“They look fine, mom,” I said. “You’re tired. Just go to bed.”
She became stock-still. I started wondering about pettit-mal siezures or some bizarre new type of paralysis…and then her head rotated slowly toward me, like an old T-55 turret with bad hydraulics…inexorably…she elevated her nose 20 degrees and fired:
“I will not let Your Father go to work without well-pressed clothes! I know he likes looking sharp. It makes him feel good!” The iron burblehissed smug accompaniment.
My dad hasn’t touched an iron in 40 years. No shit. A vicious, oppressive Pillar of Patriarchy, that dude. Gangsta.
You know what that entitled oppressor of all Womyn was doing while me and my mom were having that conversation? As soon as he saw his wife pull out the iron, he told me goodbye (that’s what “Don’t be late for work, boy,” means in our native language) – and went to put gas in her car. He was trying to save her some time in the morning.
My dad doesn’t worry about a lot of stuff. He’s always got clean laundry, neatly ironed or folded. If he wants to bring a lunch to work, it’s made and waiting in the fridge for him when he leaves. He only cooks when he wants to. If he even whiffs of tense, the ol’ guy’s getting a neck massage.
My mom, on the other hand, probably can’t even sketch a recognizable lawnmower. She mentions that she would like the family room painted a certain color, and within days I’m helping my dad move furniture and mask off windows. An offhand comment like,”My computer is kinda slow…hmmm…” and her laptop is gone over with a fine-toothed comb by her computer-guy husband. If she comments about beautiful scenery in a movie they’re watching, or an interesting place she’s read about, he hustles some side jobs. The extra money gets transmogrified into a vacation so she can see it in person.
When we get together, I am inevitably bullied into looking at their vacation photos. In them, my mom often reminds me of a happy little girl, looking wide-eyed at interesting surroundings. My dad is always beaming at her. There are an inordinate amount of pictures with her resting her head on his shoulder. Maybe her cervical spine is deformed, and she’s never told me or something.
They aren’t perfect, but they’re in love. They bust their asses for each other. Their lives are much better for it. As a young child, I took that devotion to roles for granted. As a teenager, I thought it creepy. Today, I find it a thing of amazement and awe.
And terribly rare.