Baby's newest injury perpetrated on her by her mother is the lack of an older brother. "But ALL my friends have older brothers!" I tried to point out that neither her father nor her mother have an older brother and her maternal grandmother and paternal grandfather both lack similar fraternal relationships, but she was not swayed. "Why didn't you have a boy first??!!?" I told her to ask her father.
Speaking of siblings, a sister, of which I have many, is home. Which means that she is in the process of purging my parents' home. I'm not particularly sentimental, at least in the more conventional manners, so I easily threw away various papers from high school, birthday cards from old neighbors--some of whom still read this blog, or their wives do--and so on. My mother was a bit taken aback by my heartlessness. She also kept some of the poems I read and the book I wrote with my take how babies come into existence. The phrase "sit back and wait for conception to occur" was my nine year old take on reproduction.
While perusing old notes from college, her wedding dress and other family artifacts, my mother admitted that she was blissfully unaware of my father's sense of humor when she married him. Life's questions answered.
As a child growing up, I wondered often how my incredibly hilarious father ended up with my stick in the mud mother. Seriously, the man was in rare form during dinner and she would sit there shooting him daggers with her eyes. How she wouldn't laugh while he balanced spoons in his eye sockets, unfathomable. The guy worked all day so of course the only time he could show us how he could play songs on his skull would be before we did the dinner dishes and went to bed.
A highlight of my school life was when I addressed an envelope, because I went to school in the dark ages, to Mrs. Fatso. She lived on Broadway. My mother said "well that's something your father would find funny." Boo. Yah. That was my goal in life, to make my father laugh.
My father did seem to enjoy my sense of humor. My parents were big into respect, especially with my father from Texas. They did not tolerate sass. My father did enjoy the well timed comeback, at which I excelled. My mother did not appreciate my talent, or my timing. Mostly, I believe, because she had a hard time explaining to my sisters why what I said was acceptable and what they tried to come back with wasn't. Timing ladies, it's called timing. And knowing your audience. So my witty repartees were forced into early retirement. I blamed my mother's lack of a sense of humor, not realizing the referring she was doing behind the scenes. Just my sisters were incompetent when it came to engaging our father, did I really have to retire my tongue?
My impulsively when it came to procuring laughs intruded into my mother's carefully coordinated silent puppet show on Christmas Eve. I gleefully marched the three wisemen into some trees, and had one complain to the others. My dad chuckled and my sister punched me. My mother sighed. It was a typical night.
Another moment stands out as a crowning achievement for me. I nearly crippled my father with laughter. I was invited to a party, then after the headcount came in high, uninvited. However my younger sister was still invited and my older sister was off with friends. I was apparently handling to situation with enough grace to evoke sympathy from my father. His solution, take me to a summer scifi blockbuster, which, as to maintain some mystery as to my age, I will not name. As we headed home, he mentioned that my older sister was annoyed because he hadn't invited her, although she wasn't home to go. I causally observed that she went and did fun things with her friends, I went and did fun things with my friends. Later that night my older sister cornered my demanding to know what I had said because our father "tried to tell me but he kept laughing." Life complete.
My confusion as to my mother's lack of appreciation for my father's sense of humor lased a few more years. In fact, it didn't actually dissipate until I, myself, was a mother. Apparently lactating removes all humor capabilities from the female body. I was attempting to maintain order during dinner, despite the father figure's best efforts. A light went off and I realized that I was my mother. And that was a good thing. Because someone had to be the adult in this zoo.
I shared this epiphany with my mother. She simply laughed and said "well yes, of course he was funny, but someone had to teach you all manners."