Last week my husband Mike was out of town on a business trip so my Mom invited me over for dinner. It was nice of her to invite me over but she definitely had ulterior motives-her and my Dad had just bought a new TV so they needed their “Tech Girl” to come over and set it up. (My family refers to me as “Tech Girl” as a way of putting an affectionate spin on to getting me to do their Tech ‘bitch’ work for them. Smart, right?) I finished setting up the TV but had to break the news to them that the new TV would no longer fit on their 80’s style TV stand. My Mom was just appalled and disgusted. “I bet the TV companies do this on purpose just so that you have to go out and buy a new TV stand!” She said, “It’s all a scam to get you to spend more money!” She was just shocked that a flat screen TV would not fit on a stand her and my Dad bought back when Reagan was in office, one that had compartments for a VCR and even storage for VHS tapes. “Mom, this TV stand is made for those old box-y TVs,” I said back, “This stand is older than I am. I don’t think the TV companies are trying to scam you, I think maybe it’s just time to get a TV stand made for TVs that have been made in this century.” I then told her I could order a new TV stand for her and it could be there the next day but instead she ignored me saying, “Hold on, let me get Dad from his office downstairs and see if he has any ideas.” So there I stood with the TV all hooked up on the floor as I waited for my Mom to get my Dad from his basement office. As they came back up the stairs I could hear my mom filling my Dad in “the problem.” As they made their way into the TV room my Dad looked at the new TV on the floor and the old TV stand and just said, “Oh Hell! This crappy new tv probably wasn’t even made in the United States! Well, let me see what I can do.” Then I just watched as he tried to make the TV fit on the TV stand without success. “Yea, like I said… you guys need a new TV stand,” I started to say, “They are pretty cheap at Target I can order you guys one-” And that’s when my Dad, who was not listening to me at all, abruptly cut me off and said to my mom “Hold on Mo I’ve got an idea.” I’ve heard my Dad say that before, so I knew I wouldn’t like what was coming next. That’s when my Dad went into the garage and got a piece of wood, came back inside to where my Mom and I were standing in the TV room with the TV, placed the board on the old TV stand, and then placed the new TV on the board. Then he took a step back, smiled and admired his work and said, “There! Problem solved!” I was stunned. I looked around the room, thinking ‘this cannot be happening right now,’ what is this crazy old geezer I call my father doing? And then, just when I thought things could not get any worse my Mom says, “What a great idea Mike! Good thinking!” My first thought was ‘Mom how dare you encourage this behavior’ and the second was ‘Have the Baby Boomers gone mad?!!’ I snapped out of my catatonic state and finally said “Absolutely not! No, no, no, no. This is not ok and I cannot be part of this! It looks like you are building an altar here and then gave up and decided to place a TV on it!” That’s when my dad tried to argue that the set up was “perfectly fine” and my mom tried to say “It would just be temporary.” But I was roommates with these two Baby Boomers for a long time so I knew their game.
I then texted my four siblings for emotional support:
Once I was done making fun of my parents, and after my Dad called me both a “little smart ass” and a “little brat” we eventually had dinner. Over dinner we talked about the grapes my Dad had bought at the store, whether it’s better to have “fair grapes” (meaning grapes that don’t taste very good) or “no grapes at all” (My mom, sister Jane and I voted no grapes and my Dad was team fair grapes) and then we went on to discussing the ungrateful “welfare birds” (As my Dad calls them), just the usual things. After dinner I drove home laughing. When you stop at Mike and Mo’s, they always provide you with dinner and a show. You never really know what kind of hilarious antics they are getting into.
A few months prior my Mom kindly invited me for dinner while my husband Mike was traveling. (Mo Money and Mike Sr like to keep me fed). I was doing what I do best-sitting on the couch, going through their DVR, looking for a good Inside Edition or Dateline to watch while my Mom was in the kitchen prepping her meal. (I did offer to help but she told me I’d be on for clean-up). My Dad came downstairs from doing his favorite activity-emptying all the wastebaskets in the house- and into the kitchen/TV room area. Just as I was about to relax and settle in for a juicy “Inside Edition” with Debrah Norville, I heard my Mom say to my Dad in a rather serious tone. “Ok, Mike, should we do it now? Are you ready?” “I’m ready if you are, Mo.” He replied back. My head immediately turned as I could tell something was up. “Oh no…what’s going on?!” I said, rather frantic. They both ignored my question. I could tell they didn’t want to tell me but I persisted. “WHAT IS GOING ON WHAT ARE YOU TWO UP TO?!” “Well…” My Mom said rather quietly, “We didn’t want to tell you since we know how sensitive you are to smells, but the sauerkraut in the fridge has gone bad…turns out it expired a while ago, so Dad is going to help me dump it out right in the garbage outside. Then we are taking the jar right to the laundry tub in the basement so I don’t think you should smell a thing!” “OH MY GOD WHAT?!” I cried. I had so many thoughts running through my head I didn’t know where to start. Who eats sauerkraut in our family? Why have they come up with a whole mission to save this jar? What is sauerkraut exactly? What is it used on? (I later Googled this). My Dad chimed in “Well since you have a nose like a HOUND DOG and are over today we are doing this special procedure for you, you little brat!” “Ahh Thanks?” I said sarcastically “But I don’t understand. Just throw the whole thing out! Right in the garbage! Don’t even open the jar! If it’s expired it’s going to smell horrible!” “No!” My mom said firmly, “It’s a good jar and I want to keep it.” “I will buy you a new jar! I replied, “They sell them places!” But my Mom stood firm. “No, this is a good glass jar, I want to save it for when I make my mustard.” Wow. Shots fired. She KNOWS I also HATE MUSTARD so she was not messing around. “It’s a nice jar.” My Dad confirmed. I started laughing and said dramatically, “I’m gonna VOM all over the place!” Then I started doing an impression of our old dog Duke throwing up (I’m really good at that impression and it always gets laughs) “Mo, look at this weirdo!” My Dad said laughing. “You guys are the weirdos that are saving a sauerkraut jar!” I said back. “Um, don’t you need to go home soon?” My Dad asked. “Don’t lie!” I said, you know you miss having your little smart ass around.
Yup, I’ve been an old married HAG for a bit now but before that me, Mike Sr. and Mo Money used to be on and off roommates for quite some time. I used to experience incidents like the sauerkraut jar or TV altar daily back when I was living with them. The three of us would have some ridiculous conversation and banter and then we’d gather for dinner where we’d have more ridiculous conversation and banter. I’d make fun of my Dad, he’d call me a “little snip” or a “little smart ass,” my Mom would laugh and then my dad would make fun of me. After dinner, when my Dad had had enough of us he’d retire to the basement and watch his show in his recliner and my mom and I would stay upstairs, our heating pads set on high, and settle on the couch for a good murder show.
There was an incident when I lived with my parents that I thought my Mom was trying to make me the subject of the next Dateline-The “tortilla soup incident” when my Mom may or may not have tried to poison me. It was a normal day just like any other, my mom was preparing one of her famous “fend for yourselves” dinners, not to be confused with her “clean out the fridge” dinners. “Fend for yourselves” was when there was nothing in the fridge except probably that jar of sauerkraut and my Mom informed us to just heat up something in the fridge. My parents were “splitting a salad” and did offer me some but since I am not a bunny rabbit and it looked like my dad had mulched the lawn and then threw everything from the yard in the salad, I respectfully declined. That’s when my Mom informed me there were cans of soup that I could crack open and from there things took a dark turn:
Me: Yea, I’m just going to have soup, it’s freezing in this house anyway. Is the heat even on?
Mom: Well I keep telling you, the sweatshirts you are wearing are too thin! You need to put on a thicker sweatshirt!
Me: Mom! I keep telling YOU that I don’t own a sweatshirt factory! I can’t designate how thick or thin they make the sweatshirts! I just buy them.
Mom: Look at me, layers! See I have a turtle neck, sweater and my Columbia fleece on!
(During this time I had cracked open a can of tortilla soup and started heating it on the stove)
Me: Mom, this soup looks a little weird, are you sure it’s still good?
Mom: I’m sure it’s fine.
Dad: I don’t know Mo, how long have those cans been in there?
Mom: Here, let me taste. Taste fine to me, you can eat it.
(I finish heating up my questionable soup, pour it in a bowl and sit down, trying to force myself to eat it. My hand shakes as I bring the spoon to my mouth. After two spoonfuls I give up)
Me: Ok I can’t eat this, I have to dump this! This taste awful! I think it’s gone bad.
Mom: Yea, it didn’t taste very good when I tried it. Go ahead and dump it.
(Me and my Dad look at each other and start laughing)
Me: Well then why did you tell me that it was fine and that I should eat it?!
Mom: Well I don’t like that type of soup, so you shouldn’t have asked me to try it in the first place.
Me: (laughing) Well maybe you could have informed me of that to begin with! I’ll probably get food poisoning from this.
My mom just shrugged her shoulders. That night, despite the murder attempt, I was able to make it to the couch for our show time, but I did request we watch Inside Edition and not Dateline that night-it just hit too close to home. And I allowed a little more space between us on the couch, just to be safe. I almost went so far as to go in the basement with my Dad, but the thought of having to sit through one of his dumb shows was too much, so I risked it and stayed upstairs with my Mom.
My Dad never really watched any shows with me and my mom, not because he was scared of my Mom would murder him, he just preferred his alone time in the basement. Once during showtime my Dad just decided to go for a walk and I went down to the basement and I discovered that he had just left his show on pause when he left the house! Growing up my Dad would NEVER let us do this, and if he caught us he’d ask “Is the couch watching TV?” So I decided to give him a taste of his own medicine:
As you can see, I took photos at several angles so there was indisputable proof that he had in fact, left the tv on in an empty room. At least when my Mom went with him she had the common decency to turn the TV off and leave a note for me:
My parents have always been so generous towards their five children and I am grateful that they allowed me to be their on again off again roommate for so long. Other than the one incident, the the service at Mike and Mo’s is always great. You can never leave their house in a bad mood, it’s nearly impossible. I always leave laughing. After I moved out it dawned on me though that I never left my Yelp review, like I always joked I would. So Mom and Dad, from your fourth child and “Little Smart Ass” you get a glowing review with five stars all around.