The theme of this issue is “All Worked Up,” which got me thinking about how now that I’m in my late 40s, I don’t get nearly as worked up about stuff as I did in my younger days (There’s a man with my gold band around his finger who’s saying to himself right now: “Wait….What ???”). OK, I admit that there are a few things that get under my skin, such as drivers who take their sweet time getting out of a parking place when they can see you waiting on them, the sassy mouth on my 14-year-old, I-77 rush-hour traffic when it’s only 2 in the afternoon, taking down Christmas decorations, a bad golf day, exercise, the number on my scale when I don’t exercise, taxes, movies that aren’t worth watching, celebrities who aren’t worth celebrating, the inability to locate one of my 27 pairs of reading glasses, GPS directions that send you to the middle of nowhere, and getting stuck in automated phone mazes. But other than those, I really don’t have much of a list.
As a teenager, I was absolutely certain I would never become as exasperated about anything the way my father got all worked up about politics. I dreaded Sunday evenings with Wally Shafer and the rest of the “60 Minutes” gang because no one or no thing could provoke my dad quite like that show. By the end of those 60 minutes, he’d be red-faced and bug-eyed, pounding the table as he lectured (he preferred the word “informed,” but it sure did feel like a lecture) my brother and me how the nation was going to hell in a handbasket. Our typical response to Dad’s lectures (I mean information sessions) was mostly to roll our eyes and seek the quickest escape route.
Was I ever wrong! My children now roll their eyes as now I red-facedly pound away, bemoaning our nation’s derailment to the land of Hades in a hand-held wicker container. It’s as if I open my mouth and my father comes out! No one is more surprised than I. And there’s more. I have actually heard myself say: “Do you really call that music? My generation knew what real music was!”; “If that girl’s skirt were any shorter she’d lose her dignity!”; “Kids today have no idea what it means to have to work”; and the quintessential Dad-ism: “One of these days you’ll appreciate how smart I am.”
It’s not that my father isn’t a good man or that he isn’t a fine role model—he most certainly is. But he did have quite a list of things that got him all worked up, and I was certain that this one family trait I would not adopt. What I have learned from the Dad-isms that escape my own lips is that no matter how hard we try, we will become our parents.
And as I think about that, it actually makes me grin a little. There are three young men out there bearing half my DNA who are certain that they will never do or say the things they see me do and hear me say that they find so very annoying. But I know the truth: in the not-too-distant future, I’m certain one of them will be lamenting, “Darn it, I sound just like my mother!”