Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Things My Daddy Said, Part I

My daddy used to say, "You're never too old to be spanked!" He was wrong.

But he was right about so many other things that I'm going to let that one go. For example:

"I'd just as soon hear crying as laughing."

This always came on the drive home from Ocean City after one of our family beach day trips. We'd spend the day body surfing in the Atlantic, making gigantic sand turtles with a garden shovel, eating peanut-butter-and-sand-and-jelly sandwiches and drinking sweet tea poured from a metal thermos into nested thermos cups, each a different color. My strawberry blond sister would get so burned that her skin would blister and peel; and I'd rub Noxema onto her hot, lobster-red shoulders.

We'd rent showers and changing rooms at a local beachhouse at the end of the day, sliding fresh cotton t-shirts and shorts over tan lines and sunburn. Then we'd head over to the board walk for dinner--usually a slice of New York style pizza, or a Taylor's pork roll sandwich, or a Philadelphia cheesesteak, washed down with a birch beer and followed with funnel cake and salt water taffy. We'd ride the bumper cars, play some skee-ball, and walk the boards from one end to the other, until we reached near catatonica.

But then, in the car on the way home, we'd get our second wind. We'd be so tired that everything made us laugh, and we'd giggle and hoot and snort until snot came out of our noses, and then we'd giggle and hoot and snort some more, until my dad would reach back as far into the rear of the station wagon as he could while still driving between the yellow lines--it was like an early version of WiiFit!--and smack one of us.

"I'd just as soon hear crying as laughing," he'd say grimly. "Now you kids knock it off. I want some peace and quiet for the ride home!" The smacked one would cry, and the others would pinch their noses to keep the snorts from coming out.

I didn't ever ask my dad to explain himself--that would have been grounds for further smackage--but it never made sense to me that it wasn't better for him to hear laughing than crying. It never made sense to me--until now.

Now? I get it. Sometimes, you just need quiet. Sometimes you just want to be able to hear yourself think. Especially in the car, when my eardrums and my brain and my SANITY are at the mercy of everyone else's decibels.

And if these Peevies are good at one thing, they are good at being LOUD.

Sometimes, I think to myself, I just as soon hear crying as laughing.

But my first choice would be QUIET.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What a picture you paint. I was transported back to beach car trips with my own family. Thanks for the memory & for the laugh!!