Right? This blog is kind of fun, right? I’m so fun, I do a lot of things stone cold sober that most people will do only when drunk. OK, I might have one glass of wine. Then it’s karaoke, dancing on tables, jumping into pools with my clothes on, doing fake accents and weird impersonations, telling embarrassing stories about myself involving chin hair and rejection. You could even say my normal, natural personality is a little bit drunk. In high school, I was the class clown, because why not? I didn’t have much else going on. Voluntarily humiliating myself or otherwise doing things to make people laugh helped distract people from the fact that I wasn’t beautiful, I had no athletic ability, and I was smart. The high school triple threat. If attempting to play a sport and inevitably failing, I could either act like I was actually trying and really did suck that bad, or I could act like it was all part of some kind of physical comedy routine, like that SNL skit when Chris Farley plays a Chip-n-Dale dancer. No one is watching that skit thinking, “Wow, Chris Farley is obese and a terrible dancer.” One very tiny difference between me and Chris Farley, however, is that he had physical talent to begin with. Also he was way funnier than me. Also he was performing in a setting that made it clear he was doing a comedy sketch. Also people were paying him to do that. Also his audience wanted him to succeed while mine was all sitting around praying for everyone else to fail spectacularly so no one would notice their calves were too skinny. In any case, not sure my audience was buying it, as evidenced by the only measure of high school success, boyfriends, of which I had very few.
I come from a long and distinguished line of bonafide characters, so being naturally drunk is in my genes (and some of my relatives have been known to be legitimately drunk as well). The known family record on this goes back to my great-granddaddy Turner, who awakened his houseguests in the mornings by putting firecrackers under their beds (I’m sure he drank, probably something homemade, probably even during prohibition). He also spent most of his leisure time sitting on the front porch, playing his fiddle, and making up little ditties about the passing cars. My mother tells me he was "highly aggravating,” which in Texan translates to “obnoxious but entertaining enough that it’s tolerable,” because in Texas the worst thing you can be is boring. Her father, my dear Pepa, continued this trend. Pepa was the life of every party. He told the best stories, like that time he was a Houston bus driver and was relieving himself out the bus door at the end of his shift when a woman passenger who had fallen asleep on his bus came to, saw him peeing and shrieked in horror, sending his urine stream trajectory well off the mark. At least I think that was how the story went. You could only make out about half of what he was saying, between the thick Texas accent, the mumbling way he spoke, and the fact that he never wore his teeth. But it didn’t matter, you were laughing regardless. He was fond of one-liners, such as saying about my mom, “If you wired her jaw shut, her head would explode” (accurate); “Get them kids off the street” and “this ain’t worth settin’ up” (references to bridge, which he loved); “this gravy’s too tough” (I have no idea what that means); “he is so lazy, he thinks Manual Labor’s a Mexican” (he wasn't politically correct). He and my grandmother both were good-time folks well into their old age and indulged in behaviors of which their evangelical-convert daughter did not approve. When I would visit them for the weekend from my nearby college, they would leave me zoned out in front of the TV at 11 pm to head out to the honky tonk. They loved to dance and drink. They are the only people I have ever known who hid their liquor from their kids.
I found some photos in my grandmother’s house of her and a bunch of girlfriends in the 1960’s hanging out in their girdles. Before digital photography. Think about that. My grandmother and her pals used actual film to take pictures of themselves in their underwear. And then got it developed. Presumably at a local drugstore in their small town where the drugstore people probably knew them personally. And then kept the pictures lying around for the next several decades. I don't think the liquor was hidden that night. Or maybe it was. Again, my people don’t really need alcohol to act that way.
Given this pedigree of fun, you’d think my house, too, would just be a laugh-riot for my kids, and I would come up with endless, creative ways to fill their lives with joy and magic. You’d think I would be wrestling them to the ground while dressed up like a wild boar or popping out of closets with silly string or reading all their books to them in strange voices and accents. You’d think that. But while some people’s sense of fun is encouraged by being around kids, mine is squashed. They being kids and me in charge of them just ruins the whole deal for me. I kind of resent them for getting to be kids, really. I WANT TO BE THE KID. I find responsibility to be a massive killjoy. You give me any amount of that and the party just goes right out of me. Whomp Whomp.
Unfortunately, my husband feels the same way and since he tolerates chaos and disorder and lateness much better than I do, in that he is not on medication for it, he wins the responsibility-avoidance game. So he gets to be the “fun parent,” and I get to be the mean one. It’s me who is counting to three and barking orders and threatening dire consequences if people don’t get in the car RIGHT NOW. It’s me who plans the outings and packs for the family trips and organizes the fun. It’s me who then can’t enjoy any of it. I know that’s a cop-out, and there are plenty of people can do both, but I’m not that coordinated, and I have a hard time making my flailing attempts into a comedy routine.
So instead of building cool forts with my kids and pelting them with water balloons, I offer up lame excuses for why I can’t get off the couch. My back hurts. I have a headache. I have “stuff” to do. I’m tired. It’s not my job. All of these things are true pretty much all the time. But I manage to get myself together to do my own stuff. I can muster the energy to go for a run most days. It’s pretty absurd that a marathon runner is just flattened, physically devastated, by legos. Then again, I don’t think it’s the physical energy being fun with my kids entails, it’s more of a headspace thing. I can’t seem to let myself go as the parent. Also, a lot of the games and stuff they are into are just really boring. My son recently tried to give me a tutorial on Minecraft, and I think I lost function in one of my lobes. The best I can do is put on some music and lead my kids in a dance party. I will say that my dancing is HYSTERICAL without any effort on my part.
My daughter has been “practicing being funny on purpose” lately, which is completely and unintentionally funny. I informed her, to her astonishment, that genetics are on her side because I AM FUNNY. She was like, “Whatever, Mom, you are NOT funny.” That was a dagger right there. Now that she’s getting older and can grasp higher forms of comedy unrelated to bodily functions, perhaps I can dissuade her of this notion. I’ll get out the mockumentary we made for our wedding if I have to. That’ll show her. Or frighten her into submission.