Sunday, January 1, 2012
Grace Under Fire?
My sister Shontyl asked, while reading my niece’s Vogue, “Did you know that Coco Chanel was a real person?”
Me: "Yes. Didn’t you?"
My Daddy: "Isn’t that Ice-T’s wife?"
Me: "Who? Chanel?"
Daddy: "Yeah. His wife is named Coco."
Shontyl: "Mr. T’s wife is Coco Chanel?"
Me: "What? No! He said Ice-T and that’s wrong. She may be named Coco but that is the only thing she has in common with Chanel you can be sure." I would have said more but I’m afraid of Ice-T and what may happen if he ever reads this blog. Excited about the visibility of my blog, but very, very afraid.
Shontyl: "Who’s Ice-T?"
Daddy: "He’s on one of those shows. CSI, NCIS, SBPD or something."
Me: "Law and Order SVU." (In my head: Who are these people?)
Now to understand my frustration, you have to know that I am downright persnickety about my trivia. I know scads of things about myriad things that matter not to most people. I am a trivia nut and there are numerous tomes and board games in my home that sit unused as my family has tired of my triumphs. It couldn’t have been my victory dance and chant (all five verses), could it? Surely not.
Now I know that a mastery of trivial facts does not make me smarter than anyone, but I do enjoy being informed on a number of subjects both intellectual and pedestrian. Full disclosure, it’s mostly pedestrian. I have read Foucault’s ‘Madness and Civilization’ but only the first 32 pages.
My trivial knowledge does make me a great Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon-er. I realize this game is passé but I like it and will revel in my un-coolness. My sister, in her attempt to malign my trivial character, double-dog dared me to link the most obscure “movie star” she could think of (Tyra Banks) to Kevin Bacon through six movies or less. Challenge accepted dear sibling. Tyra Banks was in ‘Life Size’ with Lindsay Lohan who was in ‘Mean Girls’ with Tina Fey who was in ‘Date Night’ with Mark Wahlberg who was in ‘Boogie Nights’ with Philip Seymour Hoffman who was in ‘State and Main’ with Sarah Jessica Parker who was in ‘Footloose’ with Kevin Bacon. And that’s without using my old standby of Dan Ackroyd-was-in-‘Blue Brothers’-with-John-Belushi-who-was-in-‘Animal House’-with-Kevin-Bacon-link. Because Dan Ackroyd has been in a bunch of movies, y’all.
The reason I bring this up is I have a great memory and quick recall and I know many in my immediate family do not. For example, my sister gets Chevy Chase and Bill Murray confused. Yes, you read it correctly. And my Daddy’s frames of reference are boxing, football, ‘Barney Miller’ and ‘Hee Haw’. But my conundrum is I just don’t know what I’m supposed to do when my Daddy gets dates and facts wrong when he tells a story. Now, those who know me know part of my “charm” is I am honest to a fault. I don’t know how to be anything but, so I am very direct in my conversations with my Daddy and all those in my circle, be it work or play. But I don’t know if he’s misremembering due to his age (he’s only 70) or his need to re-interpret the past. And it’s constant; like he works for Fox News or something.
And I find myself trying to catch his mistakes, like some intrepid reporter. It’s almost become a contest for how many times I can correct him. Is this some latent rage at our past relationship or lack thereof? Or am I just being tooky, which is a word my family apparently coined because any time I use it people question what it means. Tooky is, well, tooky. You know, persnickety.
What if I’m just a run of the mill butthole? And if I am, is it hereditary and can I blame him? And if it’s not my being obnoxious, do I just let the inaccuracies slide? Even if he’s using them to malign someone’s character or call into question someone’s motives?
I just don’t know what to do. The only thing I know is whenever I correct him he gets his feelings hurt and withdraws physically from me unless we are eating. Nothing will keep him from his “grosh-ries”. I have taken the tack of saying, “Are you sure that’s right? I remember…” and then I tell either the version of the story I have heard my entire life or I re-state the facts as I remember them if I bore witness or participated, willingly or otherwise.
Sometimes it’s harmless, like the year he had his picture taken on the bike from “E.T.” at a mall somewhere. It’s the most hilarious picture. He says it happened in 1977 in Lousiana. “E.T.” wasn’t released until 1982 so I know his version is not true. Other times he tells my staff about car wrecks I supposedly had which never took place, in locations I have never been, in vehicles I have never owned or driven, doing all manner of things my little Southern Baptist mama’s boy heart just couldn’t have done out of the all-consuming fear of being cast into the lake of fire, y’all.
So, I sit here unsure of what to do. Do I let the lies fly or do I swat them all down, like so many poorly designed paper airplanes? Do I conduct a brief cost-benefit analysis before I speak or do I just do damage control after the fact? Since we’re expected to do New Year’s resolutions, should I just take the high road and let him tell his version of the story? Even if he skews everything negatively and uses these re-tellings to cast dispersions on loved ones’ characters? What if I agree with his take on their character but for reasons other than those misrepresented? Do I agree to keep the peace or just say “oh” or “uh-huh” and hurt his feelings because he thinks I’m belittling his feelings? Mind you, he didn’t quite say those words. What he actually said was, “Oh, am I not important enough for you to talk to me? Would it help if I used bigger words? I've got four hours of college.”
Also, should I refrain from comments about his hygiene and general demeanor? Should I have not said, “We could grow corn in your dirty underwear” when he asked if I wanted a garden in the backyard? Am I hateful? Is the latent aggression not so latent? I went to nine months of anger management therapy last year to find the root of my hostility and it a seemed to boil down to mi padre (that’s Spanish). And even if he didn’t treat me very well growing up shouldn’t I just get over it already? I mean, what’s the damage? He hurt my feelings? Well boo hoo you big baby. Put on your Incredible Hulk Underoos and deal with it, is what I’d say to me if I was someone else listening to me. You know it’s bad when you get on your own nerves.
So there you have it. I resolve to be a better person in 2012. To be more graceful, in the Biblical sense of grace as I am fleet of foot per the witnesses to my dancing skills last night at the Presbyterian Singles Dance. I don’t think God was mad at me for (1) dancing or (2) with Presbyterians. I'm sure he didn’t like it when I silently judged that one girl who was wearing mis-matched animal prints and whipping her hair with more dedication that was warranted at a church function during Bon Jovi’s “Living on a Prayer”, but I have asked forgiveness and have resolved to be less judgmental this year. And that's all I'm saying for now.