Sunday, June 15, 2008

The Opposite of Sex: Fathers' Day Edition

This weekend, EFU, YFU, and I journeyed far to the Amish country of Western Maryland and Southwestern Pennsylvania, where my parents have their summer home. I was not originally scheduled to have the girls this weekend, but when the need arose to make other scheduling changes, one option was to get this weekend, so a trip to see my parents on Fathers' Day seemed like a good idea.

As usual, we did not get started as early as we would have liked. I wanted to leave work early, but my boss reminded me that we had not done my semi-annual review and that the reason we had not done so was that I had not completed my self-review, which had been due two weeks earlier. My boss expects me to drag my feet on any administrative matter, so he was neither surprised nor dismayed by this state of affairs, but I knew that I needed to get the damned thing done, so I spent five minutes giving myself rankings and writing goals for the next six months, and then I gave it to him, saying, "No pressure, but when [other, slightly lower level boss] gave me the review he did, it only took forty-five seconds and most of that was spent trying to figure out how I could get a fourth week of vacation." My boss then informed me that he had gotten me a fourth week of vacation, so I no longer had any interest in my review, but we did later sit down for a full five minutes, and he told me what I already know, as he has for the last two or three reviews. Then he told me that he didn't remember how much my raise was, and I said that I'd just wait for the letter at the end of the month, like everyone else, and I went back to my office. And celebrated in a quiet-but-very-happy way: a fourth week of vacation is a big deal.

Eventually, I did make it out of the office, and I picked up the young'uns, and we headed home for packing, etc. I stopped to get the girls something to eat, and the following conversation (whose exact context I forget because I forget most things -- generally to my benefit -- these days) occurred:
EFU: Oh, please. He probably didn't even know you're gay. No one thinks you're gay unless you tell them.
TED: What do you mean?
EFU: Well, you're not exactly a stereotypical homosexual.
TED: I take great offense to that statement. I have almost ten pairs of shoes.
EFU: Whatever. Most of my gay friends have trouble believing that you're gay. Anyway, it's not an insult: no one wants to be typical.
TED: Almost ten pairs of shoes!
EFU: Give it up, Dad.
TED: Fine, but I'm going to pout for the rest of the way home.
EFU: Cool, let's see.
TED: I hate it when you call my bluff.

I mention this conversation only because two or so hours later, when we'd all finished packing and wasting time and were finally on our way out of the driveway, we had another conversation:
YFU: [Sarcastic comment that I cannot, for the life of me, remember.]
TED: How can you say that? I'm hurt!
YFU: Whatever, Dad.
TED: I am decidedly injured. I have not been so hurt since EFU said that I'm not a stereotypical homosexual.
EFU: That was only two hours ago.
TED: That's right, but I am easily wounded because I am a stereotypical gay man, and we are a very dramatic people.
TED: Stop laughing!

Anyway, the weekend was fun and relaxing. It rained a lot while we were there, but my mother insisted that we go ahead with a planned cookout, which meant that I spent a lot of time standing over a grill with an umbrella, and my mother spent a lot of time squirting lighter fluid onto apathetic charcoal that was already lit. I guess she likes the big whoosh of flame.

This cookout involved immediate and extended family members, many of whom are appalled at the idea of a Black president. Accepting things that you can't change is, supposedly, a mark of maturity, so I've long since accepted that many of my older relatives are bigots. I generally try to excuse myself from the conversation or change the subject if I can, but it's not always easy since my mother seems to take pleasure in instigation.

In fact, while YFU (who, you may or may not remember, is twelve) was trying to get their dog to eat some ham, we had the following conversation:
Mom (to YFU): Just let him be. He won't eat if someone's watching.
Mom (to TED): He's just like those n-i-g-e-r-s that your Grandma used to feed...
TED: You know how much I hate that word.
Mom: That's why I spelled it out, so YFU wouldn't know what I was saying.
TED: For God's sake, Mom, she's TWELVE YEARS OLD. And she's been able to read since before she was six!
Mom: Well, I forgot that.
TED: And you misspelled it!
Mom: Well, I'm sorry.

I figured it was better not to ask exactly what she was apologizing for.

My father seemed in very good spirits, and he always loves having us around. He'll be 78 in a couple of months, and he has finally decided that they can't keep making the trip north for the summer, so they're thinking of putting their Pennsylvania home on the market unless I decide to buy it. I'm considering it because I really love it up there and because I don't currently own any property, but I'm not sure that it's practical. It might be a good place to retire, but maybe for a less active retirement than I'm envisioning. On the other hand, it'd be cheap, and you always need a place to leave your stuff and come home to, even if you're 70.

Fathers' Day is not really something that either I or the girls think much about. Being a father is certainly the thing that I consider most important in my life, but the holiday itself is kind of silly. I haven't studied the history, but I reckon the distilled liquor industry was jealous of how much money the floral industry was raking in on Mothers' Day. No liquor exchanged hands during our holiday. I got my Dad some DVDs, and the girls each made me a card and a bookmark, which I found appropriate and very nice. YFU's was very effusive, but EFU went back to basics with her card:
Dear Father,
Thanks for feeding and clothing me.

It was just what I wanted.


Lewis said...

Big whoosh of flame! I love that.

Jason_M said...

What I want to know is, were your parents and extended family voting dem or rep before the dreaded possibility of a Black president emerged. If they were dems, now you've given me even more to worry about.

The Neighbors Will Hear said...

Most of my extended family has consistently voted Republican, so they were likely all voting for McCain anyway. My mother might have crossed over for Clinton, but now she probably just won't bother to vote.

Jason_M said...

Well, that's something of a relief. Thanks.