I am still recovering from my weekend, which was spent in the company of two great friends (and talented writers in their own right): Manic Mom and Swishygirl. They recap the night better than I could, so for the nitty-gritty scoop, click on over.
I rolled into my parents’ place three hours after leaving Chicagoland to be greeted by the clean, refreshing scent of pig manure, which a local farmer had just freshly spread on some nearby fields. What an excellent remedy for my hangover!
The whole fam-damily had arrived for dinner, including my brother, my sister, my new nephew (he’s smiling now! *sigh*), my sister’s boyfriend, and his parents. My mother outdid herself with dinner, as she always does: white chicken chili, spicy butternut squash soup, garlic breadsticks, a romaine salad with homemade cranberry vinaigrette, and a cranberry fudge pudding cake. I’m starting to think she’s showing off, really.
The dinnertime conversation covered a range of topics, but eventually, it migrated to a perennial favorite: how ‘bad’ each person had been as a teenager. As soon as the conversation evolved in this ugly direction, I knew what was coming, and my father didn’t fail to deliver:
“We caught Jess sneaking out of the house one night when she was sixteen—”
“I heard the floorboards creaking and said, ‘Where do you think you’re going?’ And she said, ‘To the bathroom.’”
“I said, ‘Hurry right back then!’”
At that point, Mom chimed in. “There was an ice storm that night, and we heard this car driving back and forth in front of the house: crackle, crackle, crackle.”
The whole table was laughing by then, and I was covering my eyes with my hands, saying things like, “Okay, end of discussion. Story’s over.”
Oh, but Dad hadn’t reached the pinnacle of the tale yet. “But first, Mom caught her blow-drying her underwear in her bedroom!!”
As this sentence hung in the air, I began to look around for a hole in the space time continuum that I could evaporate into. Maybe do a little time-traveling to Ye Olde England. I also wondered how expensive it would be to change my identity and move to Sweden.
My sister’s boyfriend’s father, recovering nicely from a head injury sustained in a bicycle accident a year ago, looked perplexed. He furrowed his brow and asked, “Why were you blow-drying your underwear?”
What could I say? Here was one possible response: “Well Duncan, I’m so glad you asked. See, I had one really cute pair of underwear, but they happened to be dirty. And when you’re planning to sneak out of the house at age sixteen to meet your boyfriend, you want to be prepared for any possible underwear-revealing situations that might arise. So I quietly washed them in the bathroom sink and then tried to dry them in my room with a hairdryer. My bad, because who knew hairdryers were so loud?”
I didn’t say that, of course. Instead I covered my face with my hands some more and said, “Oh my GOD. You will NEVER stop telling this story, will you?” Then I smacked my Dad, who was laughing like a crazy person, in the arm. My sister’s boyfriend saved the day by shifting the conversation to his own terrible youth with a story about how he kicked a girl in the stomach in grade school and subsequently got suspended, and how his older brother deflected his negative parental attention by urinating publicly in a gymnasium during a school sporting event.
So this Thanksgiving, I will give thanks that one of my worst youthful indiscretions did not involve public urination or suspension from school. Just some dirty underwear, an ice storm, and a hair dryer.