We hadn’t seen my parents in more than a year, which is indefensible. Everybody’s busy, their West Virginia house is a ten-hour drive from here, and they spend half their time in Florida. But all that just sounds like excuses, really. If I’d made it a priority, we could have worked it out. It was a permanent fixture near the top of my Big List of Shit I Feel Guilty About.
But a few weeks ago my mother called and told me they were coming for a visit, in a tone that said, “We’re tired of waiting for an invitation.” However… I don’t accept that unspoken criticism. I’ve told them many, many times they can come here whenever they want. I mean, seriously. They should know, by this late date, that an engraved invitation will not be forthcoming. But an open invitation is ALWAYS in effect.
In any case, they were here over the weekend, and it was a good visit. They never stick around long enough for the “one day too many” syndrome to kick-in. Toney and I discovered this phenomenon many years ago, and I suspect my folks know about it, too. They get in and get out, and it’s not enough time to disrupt your routine to the point of annoyance. Plus, they’re just easier to deal with than most (all) of our other, um, long-term visitors.
My parents are 71 years old, and have always been youthful and energetic. But my mother is starting to slow down a little, and that bothers me. She’s no old lady, but she’s different than she was five years ago. And I don’t care for it. My dad, on the other hand, is exactly the same.
He told a long story about socks that was as nuanced and hilarious as anything Jean Shepherd could have produced. He has a hard time finding socks that will fit, you see. They’re either too small or too big, with nothing in between. He says he has about fourteen pairs in his drawer that are so big the heel rides halfway up the back of his leg.
“They say they fit shoe sizes 6 through 12,” he said. “That’s too big of a range! My god.”
So, somehow he started wearing some of my mother’s socks — which fit perfectly. They were exactly what he’d been looking for. The only problem? They had Hanes Her Way printed across the toe.
One day he was in Florida, and a man wanted to show him and a group of other guys some renovations he’d done to his house. And before they walked through the front door everybody started kicking off their shoes. He knew he was sporting the Hanes Her Way socks, and was thrown into crisis.
He considered taking off his shoes AND socks, but thought that would be weird. He only had about three seconds to decide, and opted to just continue on without removing his shoes, at all. He pretended he hadn’t noticed the others doing it, and walked into the house wearing his shoes.
This tale lasted for about ten minutes, and it was hilarious. He gets as exasperated about things as I do, and tells a great story. I wish I had a recording of it, I really do.
He insisted on paying for everything while they were here, which makes me feel uneasy. We went out to dinner on Friday, and he snapped up that check faster than a cobra strike. And we ordered three pizzas for dinner on Saturday, which I was also not allowed to pay for. What’s your feelings on this? Should I put it on my Guilt list, or just let it go?
We did have a big dinner at home on Thursday, which Toney and I cooked. And it was excellent, I must say. So, we weren’t complete food sponges. What’s your opinion about visiting parents, who insist on paying for everything, right down the line?
On Friday all six of us piled into my folks’ new minivan, which has so many gadgets ‘n’ shit, it felt like it might belong to the James Bond of the ‘burbs. Holy hell. The dashboard was as complicated as a 747. There was a TV screen, and USB ports, and all manner of craziness. I couldn’t even take it all in.
Anyway, we went to Knoebels for the day, and it was a good time. The weather was perfect: sunny, but not too hot.
I rode three rides: the haunted house, the Phoenix rollercoaster, and something new, called Black Diamond. That last one is an indoor coaster type of thing, but it was kinda lame. It’s not very exciting.
The Phoenix, however, was rocking. I swear that thing goes faster every year. I’ve ridden lots of roller coasters in my life, but that one seems to be one of the most extreme things ever. And it’s just an old wooden coaster from 1947. It runs wide-open, and I nearly shat myself on Friday.
And here’s my food list, as promised: cheese fries, ice cream cone, barbecued pork sandwich, pierogies with sour cream, and frozen iced tea. I feel like I should’ve done better, but started foundering after the pierogies. It was a disappointing performance, and I hang my head in shame.
Here are some pictures I snapped during the day. As you can see, it started raining at the end, but it held off until our day was done. It was nearly perfect, and the boys had a great time. They rode more than they usually do, and both fell asleep on the ride home.
Steve lives near Knoebels, and came over to see my parents, and ride some stuff with us. He hugged my mother when he got there, which is something I never do. We’re not huggers, never have been. But I felt like he showed me up a bit. Thanks, buddy!
I’m joking, of course. But I’d like to know if we’re strange, never hugging and kissing and all that stuff. What are you thoughts? Do you come from a huggy-feely family? I dated a girl many years ago, whose mother would hug and kiss me whenever I walked through the door, and my entire body would go rigid with awkwardness. That’s just not the way we are. Are we unusual? Please tell me about it in the comments section.
And I think I asked a couple of other questions above… Please set me straight on all this stuff.
And I’m calling it a day, my friends. I hope you enjoyed this visit with my folks. I’ll see you guys next time.
Have a great day!
Now playing in the bunker
Treat yourself at Amazon: US and Canada
I look forward to the Knoebels trip . . . yours, I mean. I get the whole experience without sunburn or standing in line!
We’re not a huggy bunch either.
My family has never been huggy either. My wife’s family on the other hand is just the opposite. Frankly, I get all uncomfortable and rigid with they try to hug me. However, they now know the ground rules and only hug me on special occasions.
I just came back from a 4 day road trip to Disneyland, the most terrible place on Earth. Maybe as time goes by I can recount some of the many, many horrors. However, as it stands now, I am still too angry to deal with making anything funny. There is not one good thing about Disney. Other than the double anal fisting horses you can see a picture of on my facebook account.
Hugging and kissing family is weird and gross. Does anyone else think it’s strange when old people make little kids hug and kiss them? Like, when old people hold onto grandkids and neighbor kids and stuff and won’t let go until the child kisses them on the lips. That’s creepy shit man. If I walked up to a kid and held them captive until they kissed me on the lips, I would be put in prison and auto-enrolled in the NAMBLA news letter. If an old person does it, it’s okay because they are old and can’t get boners…apparently.
Hugs are fine, and possibly a kiss on the cheek… that’s how it works in the Jimbo family.
I also don’t understand family members kissing lip-to-lip. Lip-to-lip kissing is reserved for people who I intend to fuck.
I look foward to my parents visits cuz I can’t wait for them to pay for everything, they are more than happy to pay and I can’t deny them that happiness.
Yup, my family is the hugs and kisses type, me, my mom and dad all say I love you after every single phone convo no matter how short or long.
Gotta love those Knoebels pics… the prizes make me think that some flea market is missing some of its merchandise.
The BBQ teat is fantastic though… I want one of those next to my desk at work! Take a big hit off it every five minutes or so.
I would go all artisitic with the mustard udder. Spell my name out on a huge wedge sandwich. (I have a long name, too!)
Shit, let me see if they sell them through Staples!
Totally loved the Nun photo!
It’s the new thing…that’s how they talk to God nowadays!
Jerry in WV says
We are big huggers in our family, on both sides. My mother is almost 85 and I can’t imagine not hugging her every chance I get. She is not in great health and I never know when it might be the last time. As far as the parents paying……..don’t sweat it. It is part of still wanting to take care of your kids. Let them enjoy doing it.
WB in OH says
If the old man snatches the check away so quickly he probably reads the website and is embarrassed by his sons constant fund petitioning.
I’m just kidding Mr. Kay! You’re website is worth every penny I send you. Please don’t block me!
I hate family hugs except from my Mom, everybody else can pound sand.
Alice in WV says
loved your Dad’s sock story. really enjoyed that!
Yes it really was great!
My family is the hugging sort, but I got the gene that says “Please stay the fuck away from me…” so they don’t try too often. My dad usually is the one to keep bugging me, and then he gets all upset when I don’t hug him, but that’s just weird.
My parents also pay for everything Jeff. Only, in my case, this is a problem for me. I live 7 houses up from them & since I bought this house my checking account has been dwindling downwards pretty quick. My savings is a complete joke. My mom likes to give me money. I refuse and she gets her feelings hurt. She goes to my bank to deposit money in my account. (We share the same bank, but not account; she can’t find out what my balances are). To make it worse, I know they don’t have the money to do this shit. They are in foreclosure, have barely any savings to get by, let alone retire on & my dad blows through cash quicker than a whore in a locker room.
So here’s my question of the day. What the hell do I do? Keep refusing her money and having to see her face fall and get all sad-mommy-gonna-cry look, or, take it when she gives it with a thanks and a thought in my head that I’ll try to pay her back? I don’t even discuss my finances with her, so WTF?
Wow, that question sparked something!
Given what you’ve typed, maybe your mum would rather you use the money for things she knows you need rather than your dad just blowing through it. Something to consider. If she wishes to give it, so be it. You can only deny so often anyway.
I think I got the stay away gene to, theres lots of huggers where I work, sometimes they’ll approach me and… stop dead. Maybe I’ve got the ‘creepy weirdo’ gene instead…
my late parents were same way
i used to leave money that parents put in my account alone
not touch it unless real emergency
then when i find out something they need, washer,dryer, house repair, ect, i would buy that for them
they so happy what their son bought, not relizing they bought for themselves
Ron, that’s a great idea! You both are right; why refuse her? Thanks for the tip!!
My personal version of the check dance is….
1. Offer to pay
2. Offer to pay a 2nd time.
Jeff, where are the pics of the freaks? Are you getting less critical in your old age? There’s usually at least one pic of a 450 pounder.
No hugging or kissing or verbal expressions of fondness in my family. We can all crack each other the hell up though.
As an adult I happened to become friends with a lot of European people and the kissing was so compulsory I finally got used to it. Kinda.
We do the cheek kiss/hug thing in my family. In fact, I remember as a very young kid, if my sisters and I got into a fight, my father would MAKE us kiss each other and say we’re sorry. Woah – that’s a memory I hadn’t thought of in years. But a good one nonetheless.
Damn, Jeff, you’re making me crave a big plate of pierogies! And, although I’ve never had one, a frozen iced tea sounds fantastically refreshing.
My town’s fireman’s carnival starts Wednesday and runs through the weekend. I think I’ll have to go get a neck cramp in one of those cage spinny rides.
That’s hot, your dad was a genious.
Pete G says
If someone offers to buy me dinner/lunch/a car, I say “thank you very much, I really appreciate it”. I used to argue and wait for the check like a fisherman waiting for a steelhead to strike, but I’ve managed to check my ego, instead. Pun intended.
I’m a hugger. My family – not so much. I am a hugging fool. If you stop by my house, chances are you’re not leaving without getting a hug. That’s just the way I am. Kisses, though? I also freeze up like a steel board. That’s bodily fluids, almost. And then, is it one cheek or two? Do I kiss back? Is it an air kiss? I don’t even know, man. But hugs, it’s simple – guys get the guy hug unless they’re good friends, then they get a full on hug. Girls always get a full-on hug. I’m sexist that way.
Miss Q says
My family was never big huggers, but my mom turned into one when we moved South. She started all that hugging shit around 1985 and it still makes me uncomfortable.
Hi there. Came up with the desire to comment on 3 things on this one, so decided I’d better do it. First off, sounds to me like your parents have experienced what it is like for people to come visit for a weekend and use up an entire week’s food budget in 2 days, then leave you to brown beans and peanut butter for a week. It may be more blessed to give than to receive, but it’s a durn site harder to receive with grace. I have had a very hard time learning to simply say, “Thank you,” and go on from there. As for the food intake, you done fine. Do you always beat yourself up like this when your folks visit? I didn’t get wind of anything they did or said that should have called up old traumas. Maybe it’s all comin from your head. Don’t beat yourself up about that, either. That does remind me, though–there is some part of me that requires at least an annual funnel cake with powdered sugar and that hasn’t happened yet this year. I am probably approaching a serious deficiency somewhere in my soul. Lastly, my family hugs sparingly, if at all. My kids tell my parents they love them more than I tell them. They never told me when I was young. But then, I never got to sit on the kitchen counter and mix ingredients at will from my mom’s cabinets like they did, either. My husband’s family, however, has a different set of rules. My father-in-law expects a smack on the lips at each greeting and each parting, which, I must say, gave me the willies for quite a while there. I have managed to usually narrow this ritual down to the parting–he remembers the most recent events more readily. It was, uhmm, interesting here recently to take note of my dad taking note of my participation in this ritual, this from his only child who rarely hugs him. But then, he has rarely hugged me. It is what it is. I guess people grow up a certain way and expect everybody to be that way, which is a great pitfall of the nuclear family concept as opposed to the village concept of raising children. But then, I should be going on about that in my own blog, eh? Let me just add at this point that the word “nuclear” is fraught with meaning in this context–meaning which I am sure was not intended by it’s proponents. But that was before modern society approached critical mass. Love your column, Jeff. My early opinion on your cutting back on quantity is that it’s a good thing after all. There’s enough in today’s to keep me thinking for a couple more days anyway. Take care.
I don’t know what to tell you about parents paying, Jeff. Maybe they just want to see some of the money going to your good while they’re still alive, instead of via the will and last testament. At least you’ve still got your Dad to do that. I’m same age as you and my Dad would have been 87 last month if he’d made it this far.
Oh yeah – fuckin’ “Cheers” to everybody too….
The English side of the family are not huggers, the American side is. I thought all Americans were huggers? English people only hug dogs and horses. Most of the American side of the family have learned hugs are for very special occasions only now.
What about handshaking? The American side of the family insist on handshaking all the times, whereas I’m more “Dude, I know you, I trust you, I don’t need to check you for weapons every time we meet”. Weird.
I’m surprised there isn’t a baseball or maybe softball team or perhaps a bowling team named the “Ohio Huggers”. Instead of hif fives…they hug. Man they hug alot there. I was going to get my sister a tee-shirt made that said…”Hug me or I’ll kick you in the nuts”. Still might someday. The girl I dated when I was seventeen…her Mom would always go past the hug threshold and I found myself in full on embrace. Olny part of me became ridgid and I didn’t feel awakward one bit..
Average Jane says
Parents love to pay for stuff. My dad also wants to give me money every time he sees me. He seems insulted if I refuse and I could use the cash, so I’ve learned to acquiesce.
My family isn’t very huggy either (or maybe it’s just me), but I’ve learned to tolerate society’s increasing hugginess as I’ve gotten older.
Tracy in OH says
I hate it when my parents pay for anything but there isn’t much use in trying to argue so I just tell them thanks. My grandpa is the same way. Every time we visited when I was a kid he would give me a dollar. Once I hit the teens he would give me a ten or a five. Now that I have my own kids he gives me a twenty plus gives each of my kids a dollar every time we visit. He’s stubborn and won’t take no for an answer. He has resorted to mailing it if you don’t take it with you.
We went to a festival over the weekend and I was sorely disappointed they had no chocolate covered bananas with nuts. Just the plain ones and that wouldn’t do so I had to skip it and get a shaved ice instead.
My family are huggers and cheek kissers. But I do not enjoy hugging people who are not related to me by marriage or blood and avoid it at all cost. My ex’s mom is a mouth kisser and I never could get use to that and it would creep the crap out of me. It had even spread to the siblings doing it to each other. Blech!
That nun at Knoebels? I think we know where Antonin Scalia was on Friday. And he always looks good in black, doesn’t he?
All in all, sounds like a weekend to measure most other weekends by.
My folks were cool. We lived 2500 miles apart and when they came to visit…they stayed a while.Like a couple weeks. They’d pay for eats when we went out and pitch in on pool side weekend beer abd BBQ’s. However…about half three days into the second week both me and loving wife started to reasearch the ins and out of justifiable homicide
I come from a family where a hug and a kiss is EXPECTED upon greeting. It is a Catholic thing?
Jeff allow your parents to pay and get over it. Your only duty is to offer to pay. They enjoy it. Mine do.
and YES! say “Thank you!” [very important]
My family have never been huggers, but my parents gradually turned into them after all of us kids were gone.
I always offer to pay, and sometimes I’m allowed to.
I never had proper (i.e. homemade) pierogies until I was into my 40s, but now I realize that it’s both the food of gods, and the god of foods.
And Jeff, maybe on one of your trips to NYC you should take a couple of hours for a side trip to Coney Island. I think that if you liked the Phoenix, you’d love the Cyclone.
Most excellent! As to the question of hugging, we’re huggers. But we’re not weird about it. I don’t remember anyone new being greeted for the first time with a hug and a hickey or anything like that. But when it’s been a while since we’ve seen each other, we hug. I sometimes also give my mother a playful smack on the ass too. Not really.
Your parents want to pay when they come. That’s what a lot of parents do. It’s one small way that they can help out and I’m sure they enjoy doing it. So I’d let that one go.
I started a new job recently and my hours today were 8:00am until 8:30pm. Tomorrow is supposed to be the same thing. I’m selling cars. Everyone tells me that I “look like a car salesman” (not a compliment, I don’t think). I feel sleezy enough, like it’s almost prostitution, but whatever it takes to turn a buck I guess. I don’t fuck people, mind you. That’s on my business cards: “I don’t fuck people.”
Those pictures made me long for a theme park trip. I pretty sure the only ones I’ve ever been to are “Six Flags” in Texas and Georgia. But they have a feel about them. A smell too. And man do I miss it. I probably won’t go to one anytime soon. I think I’ll go open a vein now. Damn.
Teofilo Stevenson Dead at 60.
He brought quick hands and class to the Sweet Science; unfortunately, he lived in the wrong country. Adios Teo.
RE: Further Evidence…
If the purpose of that video is to establish that white people can’t dance, they had me after 15 seconds. The rest seemed a little like piling on.
My family were never huggers or the kissing type. However, the circle of friends we travel in are. Even though we see many of them on the weekends, we always greet each other with a hug and cheek kiss. It took me a while to get used to this tradition. Kind of weirded me out a little. Now, not so much.
Let your parents have the pleasure of treating/paying. My boyfriends parents live a mile away from us. Yet every time we’re out with them, they pay. They don’t have a pot to piss in but they snatch up the check or buy the drinks or whatever every time. They wouldn’t hear of it any other way. So we just shrug it off and say “thanks”. Whadda ya gonna do?
We just went out this past weekend and bought a 32ft camper/toy hauler JUST in time for Jamboree in the Hills. Its beeeyouteeeful!! So much for the idea of going part time at work! Time for a trip to Cedar Point in Ohio. KILLER coasters!! One of them has a camera just as you start over the highest crest and takes a photo of each rider’s face. It’s hilarious! They sell them for 5 bucks afterwards.
Congrats on the new camper! A 32ft toy hauler is a really, really nice trailer. I purchased a new to me tent trailer last fall and I am loving it – so much better than a tent! All the “camping purists” can go to hell, I like sleeping 4 feet off the ground and not waking up in a puddle. The fridge keeps the adult beverages cold without having to buy ice everyday. Not to mention the stove, sink and furnace. I am camping at the D-Tox Rockfest this weekend (http://www.pnrockfest.com/en/) Enjoy the Jamboree!
Wow! Jamboree is the country Rockfest. No doubt just as much of a blast too!
Oh, I totally agree with you about the “camping purists”. It’s no vacation sleeping with nothing between me and the ground but a sleeping bag, digging a hole to poop in and eating freeze dried food. Good times! Gimme AC, a full baffroom, kitchen, TV, and a king sized bed to roll around in any day!
Have a ball at Rockfest!
Phil Jett says
Neither my side or wife’s side of family are huggers and that works for me.
My parents never gave me a penny or offered to give me money, buy dinner…etc.
The wife’s dad left her quite a bit of money when he passed. He was really tight with money and when he died his kids found out what he had done with it all those years. Saved and invested it.
Why were you sitting on a bench with a giant soccer ball?
Hugging is an essential part of greeting or saying goodbye to a loved one. There is nothing inherently creepy or awkward about an embrace that most likely will last less than 5 seconds, and is one of our society’s rare occasions to demonstrate the pleasure of first seconds of encountering a loved family member, or good friend. For god sakes, the only thing I would find more awkward is a smile and wave goodbye. What do you do in the first 10 seconds of seeing parents you haven’t seen for over a year?! Shake hands? Nod heads? Holy shit. Alice
Cooper probably hugs his parents, if they’re still alive.
WB in OH says
I see my parents about once a week. They get a wave when I walk in. Mom gets a hug and a kiss on the forehead on my way out, Dad gets a “talk to you later”.
Human contact is weird and creepy.
What do I do if I have to see someone you’ve listed. I look at their face for a few seconds then go sit down.
When I leave, I leave. No touching. No speaking. No crotches oddly close to each other. I just leave.
My parents are not huggers. I am (I think that was part of my teenage rebellion). My parents have gotten used to my hugging and now will actually initiate one every now and then. As for kissing, that is reserved for the wee bairn and the husband. I will hug anyone, but I don’t kiss friends and family unless I married them or birthed them. Don’t feel guilty about your parents paying, it makes them happy. Offer once, and then graciously accept their generosity. You should only feel guilty if you decide to move the four of you into their house, quit your job, and lay on their couch all day eating cheetos and watching Jerry Springer.
My parents came over to visit some years ago (I’m a Murkin living in England the last 20 years) and it was great they could make it over. At the time the exchange rate was somewhere around $1.70=£1 and you’ll find the cost of most stuff in the UK has the same price as the US, just a different currency symbol. Because of this, I know it was damned expensive for them to pay for stuff when we were out. As a result of that, I did quietly pay for things when they weren’t looking.
After a couple of days, Dad picked up on this and to his everlasting credit said that they were here to visit, were grateful we put them up at our house (two weeks) and that it was only fair they pay their own way.
My Dad is a fucking legend for many more reasons (Viet Nam vet, SWAT commander, Harley rider) than this and I only hope I can at least half fill his shoes. Thanks for the life lessons, Dad.
Jeff, accept your parents generosity but make sure they know you appreciate it. Take it as a life lesson that you too will need to be like this for your kids when they get older. Pay it forward.
T. Farty McAppleass says
Whenever my dad visits he always embraces my wife. I wouldn’t call it a hug though. It’s more loving than that. He sucks on her neck and squeezes her tits and stuff like that. I guess he really misses her when he doesn’t see her for a while. He greets her this way every time he sees her, which is several times a day.
He even made up an affectionate little nickname for her. “Sugartits”, he calls her.
Does anyone else’s dad walk around their house with his cock ‘n balls hanging out all the time? Anyone else’s dad ever trick their wife by screaming that he was hurt and when she rushed into the room he was standing there with a fully erect penis, gritting his teeth? I only have ONE dad, so I have nothing to compare hime to.
never was huggy in my youth (fucking scared shy kid with self-awarenes issues, it would seem), then broke out and now do the random side-arm hug with acquaintances or full-on body slam with good buddies, It’s still weird, moslty, but feels good. For this self-defined autist, it feels like a huge breakthrough. Shit, I’ll hug almost anyone now to make up for lost time.
Where does the line start?