You guys, I think it says something when I am so bad about blogging that my mother e-mails me to tell me so. I got this e-mail this morning:
“I’ve been checking for a Saturday Jane post. Not much luck finding a new one…
FINE MOM. I’M POSTING.
I’ve been toying with a post for several days about my father. I’ve talked to you guys about my father a little bit before, namely, his definitely extremely legal cashflows and his commentary about dogs, but I think that’s about it, which means that I have left out the two most important details about Dad.
1. My father gets some sort of perverse joy out of making his children crazy.
2. You will never, ever win an argument against my dad. Doesn’t matter who you are, what you’re arguing about, or whether he is wrong. You simply will. Not. Win. My mother acknowledges this truth with a long sigh and a thin smile.
3. Mentioning Obama to my father is the equivalent of throwing water on a cat. You may think that it sounds like a funny idea. Wet cats. Hah. But that cat will come after you and recite the precise constitutional codes that the water has broken within its first thirty days in office, and then proceed to forward you e-mails about conspiracies for the rest of your life.
That was three things. Love you, Dad.
Anyway, this post has mostly to do with #1, the fact that my father takes little pleasures in driving his children totally round the bend.
I bet you’re all wondering where the earring comes into this.
So last weekend I get home, and Taylor and I enjoy a pleasant dinner with the family. I play with Bella, we watch It’s A Wonderful Life (or most of it until my mother changes to Castle), and I steal most of their Diet Coke. In the morning, Dad cooks up a scramble and we chat for awhile. Mom gets up to shower.
I don’t remember precisely what led into this, but it began when Dad said, “You know I was thinking of getting an earring.”
I stared at him.
“Well, like, an earring. Doug has one. We saw when we went down to Florida.”
“Why do you want an earring.” Mycontributions were less questions and more accusations.
“Mom thought of it. She thought an earring looked good on Doug and she thought maybe I would look good with one too.”
I regarded my father silently for a second. He is an elfish man of average height with a boxy frame and a white goatee. No tattoos. Bald as an eagle. Twinkly blue eyes and a loud laugh.
Yeah. It’s best to squelch this earring thing immediately.
“Dad,” I tried to say as gently and emphatically as I could, “Mom was wrong about this. She was incorrect in this matter. You should one hundred percent not get an earring.”
“What? Why?” He frowned. I stood up and walked over to him. The better to look him in the eye.
“Dad,” I said as firmly, “at this point, you are a guy with four rifles in his closet and a shot gun next to the front door. You are a guy with a pasture who sometimes makes saurkraut under the sink and wine in the garage. All of these things just make you endearingly wacky, but if you got an earring?” I shuddered. “An earring, Dad, would make you that guy.”
“What guy?” It was at this point, I think, that Dad realized that the idea truly made me uncomfortable and was starting to understand the potential to really drive me up the wall. I’m sure he was pleased with this.
“THAT guy,” I said. “A creepy guy!”
“Doug has an earring,” Dad said, crossing his arms. “Do you think Doug is creepy?”
“Doug can handle an earring. Doug has a beard.”
“I have a beard,” Dad said, grooming his goatee. I rolled my eyes.
“Doug has a beardy beard. He has a beard like Jafar. When you have a beard like Jafar, you can have an earring. Also: don’t grow a beard like Jafar. Doug is allowed. You are not.”
“Well, your mom thinks it’s a good idea.”
My mother usually has excellent sense. Much better than mine. I felt this was a temporary judgmental error based on faulty information. It could be remedied. Immediately. I began barreling down the hallway.
“She’s in the shower!” Dad laughed after me.
“I DON’T CARE. THIS IS IMPORTANT.”
I knocked on my parents’ door and shouted inside.
“Who is it?”
“It’s me. We need to talk.”
“Oh, uh, sure. Come on in.”
I stood in the doorway of the bathroom while Mom, recently dressed, put product in her hair.
“MOM,” I said, “DID YOU SAY DAD SHOULD GET AN EARRING.”
“Well, I thought maybe it would look nice. Doug has one.”
“FLLRGRJBBXXXT. I KNOW DOUG HAS ONE. DAD SHOULD NOT GET ONE.”
I tried to reason my thoughts into words.
“It would make him that guy,” I said.
“That guy. The guy you avoid late at night at WinCo, who has spent way too long in the poultry aisle. That guy, Mom, that guy.”
“You really think it would be a bad idea?”
I tried to think of a way to say it nicely.
“I really really do,” I said. Mom sighed.
“Well, I don’t know…” she said. “He did try one on for awhile, but it was like, a diamond one, and it did look a little too…pretty.”
I dashed back down the hall.
“MOM AGREES WITH ME,” I told Dad. “You don’t get an earring.”
Dad sniffed raised his chin.
“Mike has an earring,” he said. “Mike has lots of earrings.”
“Mike doesn’t wear all of his earrings anymore. He wore them when he was a twenty five year old street tough. He is no longer a twenty-five year old street tough. When you are a twenty-five year old street tough, you can have an earring.”
“I wore one for awhile, just a stick-on one – ”
“I know. Mom told me.”
“-that I found on the ground in front of WinCo. It stayed on until we got home.”
That sentence is going to come up in therapy some time in the future. I am writing it down here for reference. When the therapist asks me why I released those poisonous frogs into that nunnery, I will sit up and tell her, “My father found a stick on earring on the ground in front of WinCo and proceeded to wear it IN PUBLIC.” and she will stamp “JUSTIFIABLY CRAZY” onto my file and lock me away for the safety of the general public.
I struggled to regain my self-composure.
“I told her I thought it was too pretty,” my mom said, walking into the room. “But maybe if it was like a hoop – ”
“NO,” I said. “NO HOOPS.”
Taylor had been silently observing this whole escapade, with a stifled grin on his face. Taylor, like my father, gets a special amusement when I am indignant.
“Look,” I said slowly. “Ask anybody else. Ask your other children. Ask Casey.”
“Casey likes earrings. She likes Mike’s earrings.”
“Ask all of your other children. Ask Casey, and Sarah, and Ben, but ESPECIALLY BEN.”
My brother is easily embarrassed, which would work to my advantage here.
“Look,” Taylor chimed in suddenly. “What would you think if I were to get an earring. Would that be so bad?”
“YES,” I said rounding on him. “Are you kidding? Mister Vanilla White Boy?”
“Aha,” Dad said with a smirk, “Now we’re getting racist, huh?”
That is about when I recalled Fact #2 about my father and decided to leave the situation alone.
I go home for Christmas next Tuesday night, and I am half expecting my Dad to have his ears gauged or to have his eyebrows pierced or something. He would do it.
IF ONLY TO SPITE ME.