My Family (a long time ago)

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Kiss Mommy Incident

A coworker of mine had their birthday last week and a couple of other people who are older than him were giving him some good natured ribbing about getting older. All three of the people involved are older than me, by two, three and five years. They were telling him that in a couple more years he could start getting the senior discount, which he was insisting was not something that he had any intention of using. His feeling was that even when he could take the discount, he would not. The oldest of the group told him that was how she felt, too, until she got to the age where you can get the senior discount. Now she takes the discount any time she can.

Being the type of guy that I am, I put in my two cents worth that I will definitely take the senior discount when I’m eligible. Why wouldn’t you take it? Because of pride, not wanting people to know you’re getting older? Hey, I know that I look older, so I’m sure others can see it, too. Besides, I’ll gladly take a 10% discount just because I’m 55 years old. It’s not like you have to do something to get the discount. What if they made you do 25 pushups to get it? Or worse, made it like a field sobriety test and made you close your eyes, tilt your head back and touch your nose, or recite the alphabet backwards, or walk along a painted line by putting one foot in front of another, heel to toe. You don’t pass the tests, you don’t get the discount. I lose my balance drying off after a shower at times, what’s it going to be like in 10 or 20 years? I think there would be a lot of people not getting the discount, me included.

A moment of pride when I was about 12 years old is the stuff of legend in my family and is still talked about today. You see, we didn’t go to the beach much when I was a kid, probably having to do with packing all of us kids into the car along with blankets, towels and a cooler, and then driving 45 – 60 minutes to the beach with no air conditioning. The are-we-almost-there-yets would have started after about ten minutes and driven Dad crazy. But one fine summer day, the neighbors across the street offered to take us “three little ones” to the beach with them. We all quickly accepted, got ready to go and that’s when the trouble started.

My sister kissed Mom goodbye and started across the street followed by my younger brother, who did the same. I was at that age where I thought I was too cool to kiss her goodbye so I was trying to get out the door without doing it. However, Mom was having no part of that and insisted that I kiss her goodbye. My three older brothers, teenagers at the time, just happened to be there and starting giving me a hard time and saying “Kiss Mommy” in high pitched voices. My pride kicked in and I refused to kiss Mom goodbye and she reiterated that I couldn’t go without doing it. In the meantime, my older brothers kept up the “Kiss Mommy” chant, which was getting louder as the situation started to spin out of control. 

One of them even started giving a play-by-play of what was happening across the street at the neighbor’s house, looking back and forth from the window to me. It went something like this (the names have been omitted to protect the guilty):

Brother #1: They’re coming out of their house.
Brother #2 and #3: Kiss Mommy! Kiss Mommy!
Brother #1: They’re putting their stuff in the car.
Brother #2 and #3: Kiss Mommy! Kiss Mommy!
Brother #1: They’re getting in the car!
Brother #2 and #3: Kiss Mommy! Kiss Mommy!
Brother #1: They’re backing out of the driveway!
Brother #2 and #3: KISS MOMMY! KISS MOMMY!
Brother #1: They’re about to go. LAST CHANCE!
Brother #1, #2 and #3: KISS MOMMY! KISS MOMMY!

Mom looked at me, waiting. I looked at her and at my three older brothers with their big, goofy smiles and with one last prideful stand I said I wouldn’t do it (meaning kiss her goodbye). Then, seeming like the only sound in the whole neighborhood was that of their car accelerating up the street, the neighbors, my younger brother and my sister were off to the beach, while I stayed home. And all because I was too stubborn to kiss my mother goodbye. I don’t really remember much about the rest of that day, but I’m sure the two who went to the beach had a much better day than I did, and I’m sure that the three older brothers had a better day than I did, too.

Sure, we joke about it now, but I learned a good lesson that day. I missed a fun day at the beach because I let my pride stop me from doing something simple – kissing my Mom goodbye – because of what I perceived others might think. So when I’m 55 and can get a senior discount, I’m not going to let what others might possibly think about me stop me. No sir, I’m taking that discount. That is, unless they make me recite the alphabet backwards while closing my eyes, tilting my head back and touching my nose.      

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