Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanksgiving Highlights

1. Mom and grandma lecture my youngest brother, Greggie, on attracting lady friends.

2. Turkey inspires existential reflection in the living room.

3. My mother ruins a perfectly good game of charades (in this stunningly well-played performance by my ultratalented actor cousin, James Safarik).

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Family Resemblances

One midwinter eve a long, long time ago, my mother was putting me down for the night, and when I slipped into bed, an enormous, dark cockroach slid out from under the bed covers and made a beeline (roachline) for my 5-year old butt. My mother is squeamish about a lot of things -- violence, Southpark, family secrets, talking about sex, learning new things -- but she is unmoved by the creeping, crawling things of the earth. The cockroach never made it to my rear end because it ended its life between her thumb and forefinger.

Today, my mother has Boxelder bugs that live in the warm sunlight of the living room.

Contrary to what you might imagine, Boxelder bugs are not attracted to Boxelder trees. They're attracted to my mother. They end their lives in our garbage disposal.

My mother and I are dissimilar in certain ways. I can't kill anything with my bare hands, for instance. At home in Princeton, I have a disoriented, starving squash bug who lives on the watering can and who I don't have the heart to get rid of. My mother tans easily and loves the outdoors; I have vampirically white skin and spend a lot of time in libraries. My mother loves children and is very tolerant of them. I am not interested in children and 'tolerant' is not a word people use to describe me. My mother is easily intimidated by other people and sensitive to their needs. I am selfish and inflexible and have no patience for people who need things. But as I sit here on Thanksgiving day watching her forget to put the sugar in the pumpkin pie, I'm reminded of the fact that I forgot to use soap in the shower last night. (Don't ask.) My mother and I were also last night's evening entertainment, she did a hula dance for me, my youngest brother, and my dad; I fell face first out of a reclining chair while my father took pictures.

It's not that I would actually want to change anything about the things we share or don't share, with the possible exception of my mother's legs, which we don't share, and which I wish we did. (If you ever get the chance to see them, my mother has marvelous legs.) I just want to know what it means if I am in fact turning into my mother. Wouldn't it mean that as I watch my mother move 14 house plants from the window sill to the kitchen sink (?) I'm actually watching myself, in the future, doing inexplicable things with the houseplants? Doesn't it mean I and not she just baked an inedible, sugarless pumpkin pie? That I wake up at 5am (which, dammit, I already do), that I'm humming the same effing Gilbert & Sullivan song for the third day in a row, and carrying on about turning into my mother? I guess I have that one covered, too.

Then again, as I look at my dad biking in the middle of the living room in knee-high black socks and neon green shorts ... it could be worse.