I had a strange childhood. A wonderful upbringing, all things considered. My parents didn’t neglect me nearly as much as the parents in Mad Men neglected their children, which is probably a Good Thing (and explains rather a lot about the 80s). But I didn’t have a nuclear family. Neither was I the child of a divorced couple. My father didn’t live with us for half or more of each year.
One of the things that this meant was learning to live with disappointment. It’s something I don’t often mention because my Da, as you know, is a superhero. In fact, it’s not something I talk about easily, even now.
My Da would say he was going to be home, and then something would come up; he’d have to fix something or wait for a guy to do something, or he’d have to haul grain because prices were good, or things would be delayed by a day because of rain. I learned that sometimes, even when someone wants to give you their word, they have to break it. I learned that if you put all of your eggs in one basket, as it were…well. You know how that one ends.
So I’d call and ask him if he could come home for the weekend. Usually he’d say no, but sometimes he’d say yes. And then that turned into my not asking if he was going to come home. Which turned into his telling me when he’d be home, and I’d just say, “sure,” and try not to get excited, because that would, inevitably, be the weekend that something would burn down, blow over, flood out, get hauled away, or experience a plague of locusts.
So most of the time, when someone tells me they’re going to do something, I just assume it won’t get done unless I do it. It’s not a bad thing, nor is it a bad way to be. It’s actually quite efficient.
Sometimes, though, I forget to be skeptical. Sometimes, I forget and I put my eggs in one basket.
This weekend, the eggs are in the form of a goddamned fifteen pound turkey that sure as hell isn’t going to be consumed before it all has to be frozen and turned into stock. What began as “I’d like to come for Easter dinner on Sunday” has become “maybe sometime next week; Thursday, or even after Thursday. Just save some leftovers.” I know enough to know it’s nobody’s *fault*. Things happen. People have to be places. My grandmother, who is at least a million years old, probably has to have something put back in her body or something taken out.
All I can think about right now is “happy fucking Easter”, which is pretty petty and selfish. And I don’t care. I know he’s being torn in three different directions. So I want to be the direction that wins out in the end; maybe it’s just another symptom of my own myriad shortcomings, because that’s another basket full of eggs that’s just flying from my hands.
I’ll shove some stuffing up the arse end of the bird, I’ll roast the bugger until it’s golden brown and crackling; I’ll serve the whipped potatoes and french beans. I’ll slap a smile on my face and wish him the best when he calls again.
Maybe this is why I associate with Betty Draper (yet another Mad Men reference). Maybe if I put on some lipstick and do my hair before I serve dinner, something will be different.