Any of you ever had a deep conversation with either of your parents?
No, me neither.
I kind of wish I could, but I think we’re too shallow to handle it and by that I mean that I’m too shallow to… Actually, when I think about it: my problem is that I’m too socially and emotionally inept to be able to start such a conversation.
My two approaches to conversation are: wisecracks or diving in. The former revolves around me making jokes that trivialise the conversation topic and the latter involves me skipping the social niceties (hello, how are you?) and going straight for the conversational jugular (so, how do you feel about dying?). Neither approach seems to work well.
My mom never seems to get past the social niceties. Once her ‘how are you, how’s the dog (we don’t have a dog)’ stuff is exhausted she collapses in on herself and smiles and tells me she loves me and that’s that.
My dad just tells funny anecdotes about his life. Try to ask him anything important and he goes ‘funny’. You wouldn’t like his funny side. Or mine, come to think about it.
When my oldest sister and I were kids my dad sometimes used to bring a bag of sweets home and, in the evening, as we were all sat down in front of the fire watching telly or something, he would, every now and again, reach into the bag, take out individually wrapped sweets and toss them, one by one, to my mum, my sister and me; and then he would take one for himself.
I remember this one time he brought home a bag of toffees and I was proper looking forward to the evening because I liked toffees a lot. When the time came, he walked into the living room with these toffees, sat down and put those sweet, delicious treats on the arm of the chair. I don’t think, at this point, I was watching telly at all – I just had my eyes fixed on this white paper bag of toffees.
My dad settled back into the chair and became, to all intents and purposes, engrossed in the television programme but, every now and again, he would look up and smile at me – a small child sitting and drooling on the carpet opposite him.
Finally, a whole lifetime later, he roused himself and rustled his fingers into the bag and pulled out a liquorice toffee – my very, very favourite! My entire face lit up and my eyes opened so that they looked like shiny little saucers. He held up the sweetie, looked into my eyes, smiled and then slowly tossed it across the room so that it landed a couple of inches short of my lap.
A smile painted itself across my face like an inverted rainbow as I reached down to snatch my prize. My little fingers flashed out to encage the toffee even before it had stopped bouncing gently on the carpet. The drool-ducts in my mouth went into overdrive as my fingers closed on … air!
My glee instantly turned to puzzlement, indignation and incredulation as I watched the sweetie fly back through the air towards my dad’s waiting hand and then, too late, I noticed the piece of cotton thread tied to one end of the toffee-wrapper and, a moment later the gleeful grins on my dad and mum’s faces. Oh, what a thing to do to a small child!
It wasn’t long, though, before their fun was over and the toffee was thrown back to me, this time without the cotton thread. I then unwrapped it and stuffed it into my mouth without ceremony, the drama of a moment ago forgotten in the sweet rush of sugar across my tongue.
But I never really forgot, and when I saw this picture of a snake teasing an innocent kitten in Ebar’s blog post, it brought that memory flooding back.