Thursday, June 4, 2009

Going Home Again

Last week I visited my parents (and sister) for the first time in over a year. (Bad daughter!) My trip was a medley of hilarity, sweetness, deliciousness, shopping, and napping. Here are the highlights:
  • Shopping with my mama for a snow-white purse with two outside pockets with snaps, not too big, not too small, that doesn't requires the use of a paper clip to close the zipper.
  • My BIL sitting on the couch eating frosting from a can, while we watched a Jeff Beck concert on cable and speculated about the age and origins of the bass player, Tal Wilkenfeld. (Photo credit:
  • Raising eyebrows with the story of my stalker former boyfriend.
  • Eating a Franconi's authentic Philadelphia cheesesteak. If you haven't sunk your dentures into one of these, you haven't lived. Culinarily, that is. (Photo credit:
  • Shopping unsuccessfully for a rectangular pre-planted window planter to hang from mom and dad's patio railing. We went to four stores, with no luck. Finally, we went to Lowe's, bought the ingredients, and planted red and white petunias right there in the store's garden center.
"How are you going to plant flowers without a trowel?" asked my in-the-box daddy.

"I'll use my hands, Dad," I said.

"But you'll get all dirty!" mom worried.

"Yes," I replied. "And?" Have they ever met me? Dirt and I go way back.

  • Shopping (again!) for button fly/button waistband PJ shorts for dad. Guess what? They don't exist. Every single pair of men's PJ shorts in captivity has an elastic waistband. But my dad remembers the PJs that mom bought him for their honeymoon 61 YEARS AGO and wants exactly the same thing. Which is sweet, but deluded.
  • Visiting with my beautiful niece, her crazy husband, and my handsome nephew. Sadly, it appears that my sister's kids both chose spouses with personality disorders similar to their father: controlling, manipulative, and narcissistic. My nephew was visiting for less than two hours, and his wife called him four times to find out where he was and when he'd be home. Four times.
  • Avoiding conflict with my opinionated parents. This was my personal favorite of all the highlights.
I asked my therapist for a script that I could use when my parents said something provocative, because in 48 years I have not yet learned how NOT to take the bait. He said, "Why don't you try saying, 'Uh-huh' or 'Hmmm.'"

So I tried it. My dad said something politically charged--I can't even remember what it was, but it was probably something about Barack Obama being personally responsible for millions of babies being killed--and I said, "Hmmm." He said something else along the same lines, and I said, "Uh-huh," and then I changed the subject to books.

It worked! I experienced a minor miracle first-hand. Essentially, I paid $150 for two words--and they weren't even words, just sounds! But as my friend Q said, that was the best $150 I ever spent. Hooray for therapy. (But seriously, why could I not come up with those responses on my own? That is messed up.)

The moral of the story: You can't go home again, but I guess you can shop there.

(Bonus points if you identify the source of the quote without googling it.)

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