Wednesday, October 11, 2006
What's in a word?
We had a scare as a family. My father had been told that he may have prostate cancer.
Cancer is one of those words that is so common in our venacular, and we are not adverse to hearing it on the street about various aquaintances. But no matter how often you hear it, the commonality of the word, does not prepare you.When you hear the word cancer spoken about a loved one it sends you to a place that can only be described as pergotory. That simple word can have the most calm person go into a state of panic for what can be lost forever.
Panic for a life. Panic for the loss of a lifestyle and the quality of life has been taken for granted. Panic laced with a taste of death.
My father had a taste for this word. As he/we had a cancer scare. Having this scare opened up Pandora's Box and all of us seemed to find ourselves in Pandora's Bedroom.
As a child I had certain perimeter that I was willing to explore. As a child I would like to think that my existence on this earth was through immaculate conception. My parents did not have sex to make me. I envisioned the day the heavens opened and released me to earth... Celebrated in my miraculous birth and my parents full of love and wonder with my very being. The fantasy had been dashed away as my parents went on to have three other children besides me.
I am the eldest and believe in a bit of decorum. I believe that there are parimeters in your family life that should not be crossed and talking about my parents' sex life would be top of my list.
I suppose I had a belief that we kept our sexual cards close to our chests. My father was a prude and we never saw him naked. We never mentioned the word sex as a family. But the cancer scare brought the word sex right out into the open air. We learned that my father not only had a prostate but a penis to go along with it.
As my family gathered in my parent's living room, there was talk. There was talk about my dad. There was talk about the prostate. There was talk about his penis. There was talk about his sexuality? There was talk about the fact that he would rather die than not??? Than not??? What word are we saying here?
What are we talking about here? What are we talking? This box is wide open and they, they being my siblings, are all talking and joking about my parents' sex life. I was just listening to them with my mouth hanging open as if witnessing a lovetrain wreck: a sex wreck.
This sex posse went on a diatribe about how 'randy' my parents were/ are. All three seemed to go on with glee as they talked about the walls shaking. They had given my parents sex monikkers.They talked about the fact that my parents need a new bed every four years because they need more 'spring'... I do not know where I have been, or how far in the dark I was/am but glad I have missed on the 'noisemaking' since I left the house twenty three years ago. And I am eternally grateful that my bedroom growing up was far away from theirs. Apparently, my siblings did not have this 'luxury' or so they have bestowed upon me with an endless array of adjectives and adverbs to describe these two people that I have only addressed as 'Mom and Dad'.
Now, my family has me bright red with embarrassment , my mother is busy in the kitchen and my father is in the garage getting all the celebratory livations that are required for having all his children: (apparently the product of his loins) all in one house. And we were all there to be part of the celebrations as he was diagnosed cancer free. He does not have to worry about his 'manhood' for a while yet. 'And if that is not something to celebrate, he does not know what is'....This utterance has not come from his lips, it has come from my sister's.
My father enters the livingroom, his children abruptly seguay into other topics. And decorum has been brought back to his living room with a great sigh of relief from his eldest. As more people arrive, the gathering is becoming more civilized.
I am grateful that the grandchildren have always chosen the comforts of the reckroom for these family gatherings as opposed to the LIVING room with the scoundrels.
There are twelve adults have now meandered into the dining room, in a confined space and one must raise your voice to be heard across the table. One learns very early on to annunciate and support your voice through your diaphram if you want the potatoes passed. A lull in the conversation could be the perfect opportunity to tell a joke. But with so many people gathered there is rarely a lull so one has to pounce fast if you would like the undivided attention of the group.
My elderly, niave, cousin from Ireland, as well as my mother's baby brother have joined in the family dinner. There is a lot of frivolity as the food is passed around the table. There is a wicked sense of life. There is a sense of relief and there is a sense of thankfulness in our moment of all gathering together. We rarely have the luxury of gathering together although we live relatively close. Lives are filled to the brim with commitments and other somewhat benial things to fill our plates. And the fact that the cancer scare has passed it has caused a certain electricity of hope and appreciation for a healthy future and we are all glad to partake in the breaking of the bread together.
Now, I have rarely mentioned my dear, sweet, husband; BoyWonder. BoyWonder tends to like to be 'a mixer': a troublemaker: Johnny Mischief:. He always has a twinkle in his eye and he loves a good laugh. And he loves to razzle my family. He has taken upon himself to be in the centre of the table at this gathering and I am sitting across from him. He is in between my rude sister and my cruder brother.
He has decided to seize the opportunity to report about my younger cousin's band. He decided upon this topic as he knows how to get all these people started. This Pandora's Box has been opened afterall. BoyWonder is just poking at it a bit.
He clears his voice and addresses my father.
He says 'Have you heard of Neil's formed a new band?'
I glare at my husband. The table is too wide for me to kick him. The table is now silent as they are riveted to my dad and WonderBoy's loud conversation of importance.
My dad replies that he has not.
WonderBoy says that they are quite good. And with that he gives me a momentary reprieve. He has me breath a sigh of relief. He makes me think I do not have to whip the mashed potatoes at him. But just as quick as he gives me this gift, he takes it away.
He then sighs, an audible sigh that could be heard over the clattering of utensils on plates. He gives this long sigh and then makes certain that everyone at the table can see his troubled look.
I am going to kill him.
I glare across the table.
Oh yes he is...
Shame about how rude tha' band's name is. says he.
My dad asks 'how rude can a name be?'
BoyWonder has them all waiting. He has them all without food in their mouths. He has them all watching him.
'Weeeelllll, the band's name is Neil&Bob.'
And with that my crude, ruffians, that claim to be related to me, burst into volcanic laughter... All are laughing except for my mother and my elderly, spinster- could-be/should be-a-nun, cousin.
My mother says'I don't get it'
My cousin says I don't either...
The entire table is crying with laughter...
My mom turns to my dad and is getting angry for not being in on the joke 'What are they laughing at????' she cries.
And to my absolute horror,to my utter horror Dear Reader, from the head of the table, where all eyes are on him, He, my father, my uptight, never talks about sex,but now has a penis and a cancerfree prostate father, looks down the table and says 'Honey! You know...'
And then winks.? Yes, he winks.
My cousin screams in exasperation ' I still do NOT get it!'
My mother is frustrated' I don't either" and glares down the table.
Her younger brother fidgets in midlaugh and says" I don't think you wannna know!'
She rebuffs her younger brother and retorts 'Of course I do. Why would I still be asking?'
And with that, all heads turn to my dad. He clears his throat, and with a bit of embarrassment of a schoolboy caught behind the fence smoking his first cigarette says 'Honey, You know KNEEL and BOB'
He waits to see if it registers. We all turn to her.
Nothing and then, with a sigh, he says it again, except with the actions of a blow job.
My cousin screams' Mother of Gawwwwwwwd!'
My mother blushes and cries 'What kinda rude people have I raised????'
My dad shrugs as it really is NOT his fault. It's BoyWonder's. And he points at my husband and says 'it's his fault!'
I am guilty by being associated with BoyWonder.
My family is howling.
As that dear reader, this is how with a simple word, my entire notion of immaculate conception was blown out of the universe. The image of my father has shattered all the perimeters of my fantasy. My shattered notion of immaculate conception and pretty much every other sacred illusion that has passed my mind about my parents...
De Nile is not only found in Egypt.