Friday, September 29, 2006

Speaking of things

You know how everybody has a thing. Well, a lot of people have more than one thing, frankly. It's something quirky but it's sort of a signature. I was on the phone with my mom this morning and one of her odd things just jumped out at me. Both my parents have them.

My dad's is directions. He read somewhere a while ago that men use mile markers and route numbers for directions and women use landmarks. He's taken this quite seriously. I've never been able to get anywhere with his directions. Took me years to figure out why. At first I thought it was that I had not enough information, then I thought it was the wrong information and finally I've got it sussed. Way. Too. Much. Information. It's doable if you have a navigator but if you drive alone, as I usually do, you're fucked.

Example: You'll go over a hill, pass a lake on your left and a graveyard on your right, then a shopping mall called the Vernon Square mall and around the corner will be an intersection with a Dunkin' Donuts set back from the street on one corner, a fire station on the left, a gas station next to that and a hair salon with a lawyer's office on the last corner, you'll take a left there until you get to the corner with a Starbucks, a boating supply store, a TCBY and a clothing store, mostly casual clothes...

Can you see the issue? You can't read ahead, there's too much information to memorize and if you're reading as you go by the time you've read what's on all four corners you've missed the turn. Once I figured out why I kept getting lost I just started eliminating all but one thing and hoping really hard I hadn't eliminated the crucial one.

Mom's thing is food. Today we're talking about relatives and addresses and I'm on the bus then walking so we keep talking. I'm the one who asked what she did today. She went to Pine Garden for Chinese Food. It was the Old Man Friend's monthly old men's lunch. She is subversively creating a "kid's table" of the people who bring the old men. They used to just get takeout and come back later, now they sit at their own table. And as of this afternoon I know what everyone at that table ate for lunch. Everything. Not just, "Oh I had the beef and snow peas and I tried some of Millie's sweet and sour pork" but also what soup each person had, what they had to drink and whether or not they had an egg roll.

I didn't really register that this was my mom's thing for a long while but then it was pointed out to me that it's genetic. Mom sent me a package of letters. Bits and pieces of things she'd written to me over the course of a couple of weeks. In those bits she'd included a description of a party she'd been to where she detailed everything that was served, what is was served in and a review of how it went over with the crowd. Also descriptions of the plates, napkins, tablecloths etc. She had also passed along in the package a note to her from Aunt Rena. Rena's entire note was a description of a party she'd been to, what had been served, who had eaten what, the quality of the napkins... I still giggle just thinking about it. To paraphrase M., Crazy: You don't just lick it off the wall.

Don't know what my odd thing is...well, the one that fits this set of odd things. Maybe that's for the best.

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