Monday, December 26, 2005

All in the Family

I was reminded today of “All in the Family”, a show long off the air that we faithfully watched each week when I was growing up. Although I hope I’m not as dumb as Edith and my husband is not as bigoted as Archie, the dynamic of our family this morning seemed remarkably similar to that of the contentious Bunker household.

When my children come home for a visit, there is always this period of calm at the beginning of their visit, where everyone is polite and interested in each other and after a day or so it disintegrates and everyone is getting on each other’s nerves. Here are some excerpts from the morning’s conversations:

I was up early to make an apple pie for this evening’s guests since if I don’t make it these days, I can’t eat it because of the FUCKING diet I am on for the next 3 weeks. We had a flood in the basement on Christmas day caused by a leaking humidifier. So I had also taken it upon myself to call the heating guy and a rug cleaning company to deal with our soggy basement rug. Well, the rug people sent some little Hispanic guys right over and as they were preceding to get in the door, my husband showed up in his bathrobe and unleashed our ferocious sounding dog, who is really harmless but who put a look of absolute panic on the Hispanic guys’ faces. Meanwhile, he gave me a glare and said, “What’s all the racket? You know our children are trying to sleep!” Our children, who never get up before 12 noon! For crying out loud, couldn’t he have said, “It’s really great that (for once) you took the initiative to deal with a home repair instead of leaving it for me”? Neither of us can fix much of anything that breaks in this house, so we end up paying people to deal with our problems. He went back to bed as the wet-vac kicked in. Soon thereafter they hauled off the rugs and I put my pie in the oven.

A little while later, my daughter R asked if I had any exercise pants she could wear to the gym. I offered her shorts, wondering if I would ever again see anything that went into her room, as most things I have loaned in the past ended up in Boston.
R: No, how about something longer?
B: How about these pants I use for yoga and pilates? They come down to your ankles. But only if you promise to give them back (since I only have one pair.)
R: Did you really have to say that? You have been on edge all morning. I heard you yelling at Dad.
B: You don’t know the whole story.

As I am getting ready to brave the post-Christmas shopping hordes, my daughter once again appears downstairs.
R: What in the hell is D (her brother) doing in the shower? He must have gotten 4 showers already today!
B: Don’t know. Why don’t you ask him?
After screaming unsuccessfully at the closed bathroom door with the exhaust fan running, she stomps upstairs.

D soon thereafter appears dripping wet in a towel.
D: Why don’t we EVER have any hot water?
B to my husband: Probably because he keeps using it all up.
D: What did you say?

As I write, my daughter and her friend are painting large canvas wall hangings in permanent fabric dye on our good tiled table in the family room. I offered a couple of pieces of advice aimed at avoiding permanent black remnants from this project. She glared at me and basically said, “Do you think we didn’t know that?”

We are probably no more dysfunctional than the ordinary family, but all of this morning’s interactions conjured up that old show where everyone was always yelling at everyone else. Many of you probably were too young to watch “All in the Family,” but for those of you who do remember that show, here are the lyrics from the theme song, which I have been singing to myself all day:

"Boy, the way Glen Miller played. Songs that made the Hit Parade. Guys like us, we had it made. Those were the days! Didn't need no welfare state. Everybody pulled his weight Gee, our old LaSalle (a car) ran great. Those were the days! And you knew where you were then! Girls were girls and men were men. Mister, we could use a man like Herbert Hoover again. People seemed to be content. Fifty dollars paid the rent. Freaks were in a circus tent. Those were the days! Take a little Sunday spin, go to watch the Dodgers win. Have yourself a dandy day that cost you under a fin (five dollar bill). Hair was short and skirts were long. Kate Smith really sold a song. I don't know just what went wrong! Those Were the Days!"


Blogger Jamy said...

You think that's disfunctional? You haven't caught some of my greatest moments with my mom. We could give you all a run for your money.

Perhaps you can see the humor in it? I find that helps a bit.

6:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i have it on good authority that your husband did not got back to bed.

11:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i have it on good authority that your husband did not got back to bed.

11:44 PM  

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