What I didn’t inherit, in an instance of the cruelty so rampant in nature, is their good looks. My parents are both tall, graceful and relentlessly well turned out. They have oodles of charisma, are frighteningly well informed and can charm the socks off most people they have just met. They never smell bad. They each look about a decade younger than their actual age. Several of my friends, upon seeing their wedding photograph on the dining room mantle and the real-life versions, have turned to me and said, “What happened to you?”
One might get the impression, having perused this list of their charms, that they are those distant, slightly icy variety of parents who leave their kids growing up lonely and bitter about their own self-worth. (I achieved that all on my own, thank you.) Far from it. They are as capable of being warm and fuzzy as the next set of parents. Towards each other, they are mostly just fuzzy. Let me illustrate. The scene at the table is often a variant of the following. Father: Some idiot behind me wouldn’t stop honking today. Mother: Oh no! I forgot to buy cucumbers!
Father: I wanted to get out and hit him. Mother: Hm? No, I thought the vegetable boy was quite sweet, actually.
My sister and I are listening, enraptured. Their conversation continues, in an easy, enviable flow. After several minutes of this, we give in to laughter.
Father: What’s the joke? Mother: What’s the joke?
Ah! Convergence! My sister and I applaud. Now the parents just look confused, interrupted as they are during a meaningful exchange of ideas.
Oh well. I suppose that’s what happens. Eventually, they converge. (Thankfully, they disprove the theory that after a certain number of years, spouses start to resemble each other. Scary thought, that.) As with all parents, they have their quirks: Dad is fond of saying that madness is hereditary, you get it from your kids; and if I so much as boil an egg, Mom will issue an itemized list of instructions.
But at the end of the day, they’re there. We once gave them a wedding anniversary card that likened them to being the only matched pair of socks in the entire load of clothes in the washing machine.
Somehow, that is an appropriate simile.