Many years ago my extended family through a 50th wedding anniversary for my grandparents. As with any large family, there's a shorthand both in word and action, that family members understand but that outsiders or "married ins" do not. This wedding anniversary was a big undertaking and a bit stressful for all concerned, plus we were on a very strict timeline. There was no time to explain much to those who didn't get it. I remember seeing my older cousin, newly married, turning to his new wife and yelling, "Because it just it that way. You have to stop asking why! It just is the way it is."
I'll give Hubby props. Over the years he's managed to meld into the family and not stir things up by asking "Why" too often. And believe me, there have been plenty of times he could have. Like, for example, lunch at my mother's house yesterday.
Since I'm between jobs, I'm spending some time tidying up little messes that pop up and get pushed aside. One of those messes would be Skippy's work pants. He basically has one pair of uniform pants he wears to work all the time. I've tried mending them, but at this point there's more of my mending than there is actual pants. So he got new pants from work and, being generic uniform pants, they need to be hemmed. Now, I could hem them, but honestly, it would take me days whereas my mother has a sewing machine. She can do it in minutes.
Thus, I made the trek to my parents' home yesterday, right around lunch time. We had polite chit chat, Mom showed me her new art project, which is cool and we'll discuss more a different day. W talked about computers and their Netflix account.
Let me explain: Hubby and I got them a Netflix account for Christmas because my Dad loves documentaries and my mom loves movies. However, operating their Netflix account is fast becoming more trouble than it's worth. Seriously, how can anyone not understand? You turn on your TV. You turn on your Blu ray player. You go to Netflix. You see the picture of the movie you want to see. You click on it and watch the movie. That's it. But no, my parents, both college educated teachers, both well read adults, both people who are in every other way fully functioning humans, can't seem to grasp their Netflix account.
So we talked about that. And then it was lunch time.
Lunch time at my parents' home means soup and sandwiches. I like soup and sandwiches so I happily helped Mom put lunch together.
"Get the mayo and the mustard out of the fridge" she told me.
I found the mayo just fine, in a labeled jar with a recognizable logo. The mustard, however, was a different thing. That was in a plain glass jar, one that had once been a peanut butter jar...like thirty years ago. (My mom didn't grow up during the recycling era. She grew during the "if you can use it again, don't throw it out" era.)
Pulling the yellow mustard in a plain glass jar I ask, "What is happening here with your mustard, mom?"
"Oh, well, I hate those squeeze bottles," she says, "It's hard to squeeze and the first six time you squeeze it you just get liquid and that's gross, so I put it in the glass jar. It tastes just the same."
|Look, it's a jar...with a label!|
"It tastes just the same" has been my mother's mantra forever. No, Mom, the hamburgers Dad charred to briquette status does not taste the same as Burger King. And no, your baked, skinless chicken is NOTHING like KFC. Now, while I might agree with you about the mustard in the jar, I have to just wonder why you don't just buy, you know, mustard in a jar.
"What would you like to drink?" she asks.
If you've read my first book, Dream in Color you'll know this is a question my mother asks quite often and I have no good answer for it. Water, I think, is a safe answer most of the time. So I say water.
"I'll have water with some lemon in it."
She proceeds to get the "chilled water" out of the fridge. Back in 1990 my parents bought a six pack of Snapple. Since then they've used those bottles to chill water in the fridge. No more Snapple in the house...just the bottle. She pours herself a glass and then she gets lemon juice out of the fridge.
What, you thought she had a fresh lemon she was going to cut up? Please.
And when I say she gets lemon juice out of the fridge I mean she gets a little jar, one I remember used to hold jam when I ten, that seems to contain a very cloudy yellow fluid. I don't want to say what it reminded me of. She pours about six drops of the cloudy fluid into her water. I stare at her.
"What?" she asks.
"Ma, what is going on with this lemon juice?"
"Oh, well, see we couldn't find THIS lemon juice," she pulls a plastic squeeze bottle of Minute Maid lemon juice out of the fridge. "So we got a fresh lemon and squeezed it and I'm using that."
I sniff the contents of the jar. Honestly, I'm surprised it actually smells like lemons.
"Okay, now go make your father's sandwich."
"Yeah, I'm not doing that." My father is perfectly capable of putting mayonaise and ham on a piece of bread. I'm not going to encourage any mental downslide by assembling his sandwich.
"Well, okay, but I always make his sandwich."
After a perfectly lovely lunch where my father made his own sandwich I left for home. I pulled out of the driveway wondering if I one day would be putting mustard in a thirty year old glass jar or squeezing fresh lemon juice into a jam jar. I do know this: I'm not assembling a ham sandwich for Hubby...again. Yep, that's not happening again. I need to NOT turn into my parents!