Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Summer of 2010: Surviving the Parents

(picture of me tonight)
I apologize in advance for any mistakes in this post.  As I try to type it, my three-year old niece is hanging on one of my shoulders and is in the middle of what is apparently "ask Uncle Keith one hundred questions in a row."  In addition, I made the mistake of playing a game with her last week in which we pretended the couch was a swimming pool.  So, she is also practicing her diving skills by jumping into the "pool" that I am currently sitting in/on.

Spending most of the summer in Hyden living with my parents is proving to be an eye-opening experience.  I have already posted a blog regarding their odd television habits.  As an update on that, I think Dad is still secretly disappointed that the Logo channel is not showing re-runs of RuPaul's Drag Race. 

I noticed a new symptom of my folks aging this week.

My parents are both retired and have been so for a few years now.  They are quite settled into the non-scheduled lifestyle.  Obviously, when this happens to people, any sense of urgency that may have possessed that person is instantly swept away.    For instance, when my parents now get into a car to drive, they do not instantly put the key in the ignition and start the car.  They sit down in the seat, take a few cleansing breaths, stare out the window for a second, look around to make sure nothing has changed on the console since they were last in the vehicle, then make the conscious decision to, indeed, start the car.  Meanwhile, I am sitting in the passenger seat of a 200-degree car, sweating profusely and cussing under my breath.

(not really Mom)
Once the car is started, my parents are very different.  My mother has turned into the little older lady you meet on the Daniel Boone Parkway who is puttering along at 50 miles per hour listening to public radio, while a line of eight cars struggle with road rage behind her, wanting so badly to pass her they look like a line of Nascar stock cars following the lap car waiting for the green flag to start racing.

My father, on the other hand, after taking his sweet, precious time starting the car turns into a mad man, frantic to get to where ever it is he is going.  He puts on either bluegrass or traditional country music, sticks a cigar in his mouth, places one hand on the wheel, and guns it.

(not really Dad)
This happened tonight, and I thought it may be my last night on Earth.  Dad drove my Mom and me to Hazard to visit someone in the hospital.  While we were inside the hospital, an afternoon thunderstorm came and went leaving the roads wet and slick.  Afternoon rain and high humidity and heat lead to extreme fog in the mountains.  The fog was so thick and hanging on the mountains, it made for perfect scenery for a Twilight Saga movie.  As Dad drove us on the slick road at speeds hovering around 75 mph, my mother finally yelled from the backseat, "Eugene, if you don't stop swarping around, I am going to be sick at my stomach!"  Dad yelled back, "Dammit!  I am not swarping around, this is the way people drive!"  I sat still, held my breath, and held on to the "scaredy-cat handle" for all that it was worth.  He passed other cars in no passing zones, and had no fear of the possibility of a speeding ticket, or jail time for that matter.  We finally rolled back into Subway in Hyden where I had left my car.  Instead of pulling into the parking lot, Dad pulled onto the sidewalk, slowed the car down, and looked at me.  I hopped out of the moving vehicle, as he peeled out, back on to Main Street.

My survival list for this summer now includes Xanax, Valium, and a motion-sickness patch.  I may check out local elderly homes while I am here as well.  Just in case.

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