My high school pride and joy was my first car, a 1998 white Mercury Sable. I named her Debra, because the cool thing to do in high school was to name your car. This beautiful hunk of metal had a passenger door whose interior would fall out if opened and a large dent on the driver’s side thanks to my dad backing into it during one of his Ambien-induced driving sessions. This car was my love, and was also kind of my closet.
In high school, I would go from one activity to the next to the next, resulting in me turning my car into a storage locker. My parents kept telling me to clean my car, but I ignored them. That was until one day when I heard our doorbell ring. Sighing, I dropped my phone on the couch to get up and answer the door. Our neighbor from across the street’s daughter was standing there, her child on her hip. “I heard there was a garage sale here? Is it in the back?” Because this was a Tuesday evening and my mother hadn’t been screaming at me for the past month to go through my closet, I thought this woman had to be delusional. Then I heard laughing from outside the house. Walking past the woman, I saw my parents cracking up for a reason I was not yet aware of. Then I saw it – my car. My parents had propped all of my belongings on the back dash, taking window paint and writing “Garage Sale” on the window. They had even stuck a sign in our front lawn advertising it. I got their message and cleaned out my car, and since, the only belongings you’ll find in my car are an umbrella and an ice scraper.
My family looks mostly normal. My father, Tyce, who has a dad bod, bald spot, and leg tattoos from his glory days is full of cheer – and bears a striking resemblance to “Paul Blart: Mall Cop.” My mother, Crystal Rose, has a name that sounds like an ‘80s hairband’s tour bus. She is full of spunk with a resting bitch face that could cut glass, but when she knows you’re looking, she’ll blind you with her pearly whites. My brother, Luke, a 6-foot-2-inch, 240-pound 15-year-old, yes 15, looks like he could get into bars. My two youngest siblings, Carter, 8, and Margot, 6, have been granted the nicknames Hansel and Gretel. These blonde-haired crazies have driven our family near to a heroin addiction, but we “can’t imagine our lives without them.”
My parents do try, in their way, to be positive role models. My senior year of high school, they decided to chaperone my prom, taking pictures and helping decorate, fun and games until it came to the actual dance part. I went to a small public school in Clay Center, Kansas, where the dance squad’s routines were cut if considered too provocative. We were pretty well behaved. That was until school dances when all hell broke loose, relatively speaking. We had to be breathalyzed prior to entering the dance, but that didn’t stop us from grinding on each other like we were in a 1960s underground club. Other parents turned their heads. My parents were mortified and slightly worked up, so they thought the best way to stop it was to come onto the dance floor and dance themselves. Their surprisingly not-bad moves that resembled a contemporary dance of sorts mortified all of the students enough to separate their sweaty bodies and get some punch.
My folks practice their unconventional parenting on all of us. When my “big” brother, Luke, decided he did not want to play in the pep band during the boys’ basketball game, and instead wanted to stand in the student section with his friends, Mom decided to take a page out of the book from prom. She went to that game, turned on her best best school spirit, and stood right by Luke and all of the other high school students, joining in on their cheers and making sure everyone knew she was there. That was enough to convince Luke. He decided it would be better off playing his saxophone.
Growing up, I was mortified by my parents. I would wonder what I did to deserve them. Why can’t they be like my friend’s 70-year-old parents who are too busy worrying about whether that mole is just a mole to go out of their way to embarrass me like mine do?
Between dance-offs, where my father tries to kick higher than I can, and college family weekends, where my mom lets more loose than she ever has, my family is always trying to fill every moment of life with laughter and craziness.
My friends would always say I had cool parents. Now, after four years of college, I realize just how right they are. My parents are hilarious, creative, loving (in a very weird way) people who have worn me down and finally turned me into one of them. So now, if my mom wants to get matching shirts to go to the Hawk, I say yeah let’s do it. If my dad wants to go out in his high cut-off white shirt with his bald spot glowing, I thank god that everyone knows what my mom looks like.