Thursday, October 3, 2013

Skivvies Optional

Today's road trip was steeped in nostalgia.

I hadn't been to the river to see my parents in a couple of months, and as the oldest (and the closest, distance-wise), I was overdue.

It was a picture-perfect day for the drive with the Rappahannock a silvery blue mirror when I crossed it about 10 a.m, not so much as a wisp of a breeze to be seen or felt.

Arriving at the house, my Dad was just about to depart for the barber shop In Kilmarnock, 30 minutes away.

Inquiring if I needed anything, I asked only for some good dirt from the boys at the shop and he set off, leaving us womenfolk alone.

I did some chores for Mom, mostly the kind of stuff I don't do at home.

Changing linens on all four beds from summer to fall (meaning lightweight flannel sheets). Baking a cake. Hemming a new skirt of hers. Laying some shelf paper in the pantry.

Being female, we chatted non-stop the whole time, with her asking about the goings-on in my love life ("I'm just glad you're happy") and telling me about a friend's husband (bitten by a crab and almost lost his arm).

During a tangent about ironing, something neither of us do much, she told me my #3 sister used to iron her hair as a teenager.

I didn't know that.

Odd as that procedure sounds, it's even more so when you know that all six of us have stick-straight hair.

On a related note, she gave me a 5 x 7 copy of a photograph of her and my Dad in bathing suits in Ocean City just after my #3 sister was born.

For lunch, she had a surprise.

When we were kids, we were the hot spot of the neighborhood because my Mom had a round grilled cheese maker and no one else did.

The pleasures of a round grilled cheese - that soft puffy center with the circle of buttery crust all around- were even extolled by my childhood best friend, Cindy Smith, who when given an assignment in school to write about a favorite thing, wrote about her best friend Karen's Mom's round grilled cheeses.

Of course, I didn't remember that story, but Mom did and shared it as she made our sandwiches on her brand-new round grilled cheese maker, recently acquired from Amazon after years without because sister #2 had "borrowed" it in the '90s and never returned it.

When Dad finally got back from the barber shop, it was with a story.

Seems the boys had been discussing the dearth of two-dollar bills in these parts in recent years when someone said he knew why they'd originally been so popular in the area.

Two bucks was what it cost a man at the Kilmarnock brothel, so they used to see a lot of the bills.

Not so much anymore.

When I went out to get the mail, the postal truck arrived and the woman handed me two packages.

Back on the porch, Dad opened one to find the coastal blue shorts he'd ordered from J. Crewe.

Mom insisted he try them on despite him insisting he's been the same size since the Clinton administration (a frequent reference point for my screaming liberal parents), and he barely stepped inside the house and dropped trou.

Returning to show us how well the shorts fit, he asked if I'd cut the tag inside off for him.

When I agreed, he dropped trou, this time right in front of Mom and me on the porch and handed me the shorts.

I gave her the look and she tells me laughingly that sometimes he goes out to raise the flag in the yard in his skivvies, much to her mortification but not to her surprise.

Sweet jesus. I may be eccentric as hell, but clearly I come by it honestly.

I only hope I'm as happy as these two when I'm their age.

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