The three of us are sitting at my parents’ kitchen counter on a Tuesday evening. The weather is hot and sticky but the air-conditioner is not running. My mom is poking at 1/4 lb of tabbouleh on the table with a fork. My dad is tooth picking cut-up honeydew. This might be what they are having for dinner. You can’t be sure.
"Do you think I like it when your mother hounds me for answers?"
"Excuse me! I don’t hound you, Paul.”
"Excuse me, Debby, but you do.”
"I take offense to that!"
While my mom takes her offense, my dad turns his attention back to me.
"Are you getting along, Syl?"
"Yeah, we’re getting along, we’re just annoying each other a bit."
"Do you think your mother doesn’t annoy me?"
My mom shouts my dad’s name again. He laughs this time. She says it’s not funny.
These two are what I have to go by and, unfortunately, they are nuts. Smart, good-looking nuts but nuts. They are also in love. My mom writes that in e-mails to her friends. I’ve seen the e-mails. It’s like they know exactly how to raise the bar on Healthy and Loving Marriages. Even if my mom is constantly taking offense to my dad, secretly, this is how they flirt. I would say there is a proverbial ponytail in the house that will never be cut for fear of it never getting pulled again.
"I just worry that this is all there is," I say. "I mean, is it? We wake up, go to work, come home, exercise, shower, eat, watch television, sleep and so on? Like, this is what we’ll be doing?" My face looks disgusted.
"Normalcy is a good thing," my dad says. "You want your life to rest pleasantly in normalcy. But it’s up to the two of you to create those small bits of excitement as well. That’s why you travel. That’s why you try new restaurants. That’s why you have senses of humor. But it is always a good thing to come back to the normalcy of the relationship."
I look at my dom who is looking at me like a proud parent with no words. Ugh. It is depressing. Growing up in front of people. Even that is too normal for me. I try to slow it down by not balancing my checkbook daily but the only person that that bothers is me.
My mom is obsessed with alarming the house and double-locking doors and seat belts. My dad listens to Blood, Sweat and Tears, experiments with facial hair and wears socks with sandals. I think that is where their small bits of excitement come in to play.