Over the Hill

Your Parents Are Weird

November 25, 2011

Multiple Pages
Your Parents Are Weird

During this cozy holiday season it’s worth taking a step back from the football game and having a good hard stare at the baby boomers who made you. What is with these people? They live in giant McMansions but make sandwiches that are just a bun with some margarine and a slice of baloney. They say we’re slaves to our phones, but they leave the TV on in the background all day. Oh, and their jeans don’t fit. Here are 10 other things I’ve noticed about your in-laws:

1. THEY PREFACE EVERY NOUN WITH “THE”
What’s with all the THEs? Hey, old people, when you call them “The Gays” you sound as clueless as George W. Bush when he said he pulls up maps on “The Google.” I can’t confirm this because the Internet sucks here (yes, I’m at my in-laws, too) but I’m almost positive I heard John McCain refer to Pakis as “The Paks” and could swear I heard Obama discuss “The Twitter.” I know for a fact that Donald Trump got in hot water recently for saying he’s good with “The Blacks.” It’s an annoying habit of which I’d like to see “The End.”

2. ALL LIGHTS HAVE TO GO OFF AT NIGHT
Boomers are rich now, but they grew up poor under the tutelage of feudal taskmasters who had just survived the Depression. Leaving the door open for half a second too long meant you were heating up the entire street, and using air conditioning in the car was tantamount to throwing money out the window. Some are looser with money than others, but not a single old person in the world will allow you to leave the lights on at night. Why? It costs about ten cents. I’d gladly foot the bill if it didn’t mean I have to feel around the house like Helen Keller for the two hours I’m awake after you go to bed.

“They break their toes and fall down stairs to save pennies on electricity.”

3. THEY HAVE DISHWASHERPHOBIA
Their parents scarred them into thinking any big machine that does your work for you kills starving children all over the world. So they sit slumped over the sink using more hot water and energy than the dishwasher sitting at their feet.  Even worse, when you physically force them to use their own dishwasher, they cannot figure out how it works and lay the dirty plates facing away from the jets. Why do I know how to do this and they don’t? I didn’t take a night course in dishwashers. I didn’t even grow up with one. I just saw where the jets are and figured it out. How is it they can design an optics system for military helicopters but they can’t figure out the “regular wash” button is what you push for a regular wash?

4. THEY CAN’T FIGURE OUT THE REMOTE
It’s the same with the TV remote. Hey, mom, you know how you get to the On Demand channels? You push the giant green button on the remote that says “On Demand.” They ask you how to use the DVR because they want to record The Amazing Race, but they obviously haven’t even looked down because there’s a big red button that says “REC” on it. That’s short for “Record.” Nobody told me that. I sussed it out using my gigantic brain.

5. THEY ARE PASSIONATE ABOUT SUDOKU
Maybe they’re obsessed with this game because it helps them gauge their impending senility. If they find the advanced one harder this week than they did last week, the decline has begun. Same goes with the crossword puzzles. Do you know a five-letter word for “The first name in eroticism”? Me, neither. Who cares? I’d rather use my brain for figuring out real things in real life that I can really use. To putt facts around in my head and lay them out on a grid that gets tossed in the garbage is the kind of hobby I’ll get to about 2,000 years after I’m dead.

6. THEY STILL USE BUSINESS CARDS
Every time you meet with boomers they jump up at the end and hand everyone their card. I don’t want your card. We were all CC’d when setting up this meeting, so if I have a question, I’ll check my “From…Contains” box. Every time an old person gives me his card I smile, apologize for not having my own, and then chuck it in the wastebasket when I get back to the office. Business cards belong in Japan and in 80s movies about wealthy serial killers. Another annoying trait about fifty- and sixty-somethings is how excited they get about what’s on the card. Boomers are the only people who feel proud when the boss gives them more hours at the same pay but elevates their title to “Chief Head Executive Officer of Development.” When people ask me what I do for a living I just say, “Whatever needs to be done.” (I stole that line from legendary old dude Martin Puris, but don’t tell anyone.)

7. THEY HAVE NO ASS
I understand that they don’t have balls anymore. I’d be scared of driving at night, too, if I was virtually blind. I’m not bothered that old men no longer have beautiful bottoms, but why does every woman over 60 have a backside that looks like a frontside? Is that my wife’s fate? Am I going to be looking at the Bonneville Salt Flats every time she lies on her stomach for the last two decades of our marriage? I don’t demand a woman retain an hourglass figure her whole life, but neither do I like the idea of seeing my wife’s ass as sands through the hourglass.

8. THEY CHECK THEIR STOCKS TWICE A DAY AND THEN PANIC
Present catastrophes notwithstanding, if you look at the stock market from when it began until today, you tend to see a line that is going diagonally up. Sure, there are some brutal dips but for the most part, waiting five years gets you back up to your original balance. The only way to lose money is to panic during these dips and start moving shit around. This is what boomers do. They eat moldy cheese because it’s “still perfectly good.” They break their toes and fall down stairs to save pennies on electricity. They drink wine out of a bag. Then, after saving a total of $127, they blow $50,000 in mutual funds because they got spooked one afternoon. Hey, guys, Google “calculator.” It’s free.

9. THEY THINK NOT REACTING IS AN ACCEPTABLE REACTION
After arriving at my father-in-law’s home I caught him carrying our heavy suitcase up the steps. “I’ll take that,” I said, taking it off his hands, “I’m way stronger than you.” This quip got nothing but silence so instead of copping out with a “just kidding—that was a joke,” I added, “I’m probably twice as strong as you, actually.” I’m not saying this should have induced seizures of laughter, but how about a sympathy chortle or maybe a casual, “We’ll have to see about that”? Anything. I don’t know if old people can’t hear or they don’t care, but I’ll never get used to a question or comment occasionally garnering a catatonic stare. Hello-o-O-O-O-O! (waving hand in front of face)

10. THEY CAN’T TELL STORIES
If they tell stories at all, they’re always depressing. As Bill Hicks said, “Mom, do you know anybody that DOESN’T have a fucking tumor?” And if it’s not cancer, it’s D-Day. I realize the Holocaust was bad and I am well aware how many young men died in WWII, but can we lighten the conversation load over here? I’ve been through these stories so many times, I’m going to need chemotherapy to treat my posttraumatic stress disorder.  Oh, and when you finally bring us a funny anecdote or even a joke, can you take a few seconds to get the names and places right first? It’s hard to find something amusing when you turn it into a game of charades where “What’s that thing again?” and “Who’s that guy with the hair?” are our only clues.

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Thanksgiving can be fun and it makes you feel closer to humanity to reconnect with your family but man, are they a strange animal. Please share your observations in the comments below so we can better understand them and eventually learn to love them again.

 

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