Friday, October 31, 2008

Rules for Life

I’ve written a lot about my family over the years, and how I grew up. There are many stories to tell. It was an interesting upbringing for my two sisters, three brothers and me. Our parents were (are) unique. When Jim and Katie came into a room, it was like the world was in black and white and they were in color. They didn’t look, act, think, or sound like anybody else’s parents. Even I was thrown off by them. Whenever they came to school, I'd react with uncontrollable nonstop giggling. Our parents were really different, and because we belonged to them, so were we.

We moved a lot, as in a few times a year, so we never fit in, never belonged anywhere. Nobody knew who we were. We always had the wrong clothes on for the town we happened to be living in and the school we were going to. I couldn’t wait to get home from school where people knew me and got my jokes. We did laugh a lot. We had to. After a few rounds of therapy as an adult, I realized that we were all really stressed out, and they don't call laughter the best medicine for nothing.

My parents had alot of good ideas over the years and went off on many business ventures but they created 2010 products in 1970 (such as invented a kit to make tofu when nobody even knew what tofu was) and so we were perpetually short on cash, and there was no such thing as credit. When you had no money, you had NO MONEY.

Instead we concentrated on the finer things in life, and were raised with a strong appreciation for independent thought, intellectual curiosity, style and aesthetics. The rules of our house were not things like “No jumping on the bed” or “Sit up straight” In fact, we jumped on beds all the time! Once we pushed a mattress out of a second story window on top of a tree. We used it as a big floppy slide, and jumped out the window onto it and rode it all the way to the ground.....then ran back upstairs and did it again, and again and again. When it was time to go to bed we pulled it back through the window.

These were the kind of rules we had:

1. My father discouraged us from using the word “hate”.
2. We were allowed to read ANYTHING we could get our hands and eyes on.
3. Treat whoever happened to be the baby at the time like the Hope Diamond.
4. If the sky was beautiful you had to go outside and look at it.
5. Don’t punch your brother in the face if he has his glasses on.
6. No topic is off limits for discussion.
7. Don’t claim any particular religion, because by doing so you’re telling followers of other religions that they are wrong.
8. No containers of ketchup or anything else with printed material on our dining room table while eating.
9. Use cloth napkins at all meals, who cares if they match.
10. The table isn't set until the candles are lit.
11. No playing with the candle drippings. “Don’t do that to the candle!” my mother would say “It just makes a big mess”.

I say the same thing about the candles to my kids, and the beat goes on.


Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

I have ALWAYS wanted you to put some of the stories you have told me throughout the years in print, and NOW you wish has come true!!

(my prior post was deleted due to typos)