If the weather and the dispositions of Adam and Margaret are holding up well, we (my wife, our daughter and I) are still their guests along the Jersey Shore. When we went last year I forgot everything I'd learned as a child at the shore and burned myself to a crisp so this year, I have stock in Coppertone and oceans of lotions but I'm still hoping for some sun as are both my wife and daughter. The thought of the latter is what leads me to this memory flogger from way back as my daughter and I shared, almost, a very touching moment.
It was last Saturday afternoon. Michelle, my daughter, and my wife were preparing for Part One of their Thelma and Louise Impersonation Escapade. That it was Part One was a surprise to me as I knew Michelle was home from college for the weekend and my wife had shared that she and Mike were hitting the Mohegan Sun later that evening to enjoy “America” who had a huge pop-rock career in the middle Seventies to early Eighties that stopped being such a huge career with a sudden finality I suspect the remaining two (of the original three) members found ferocious.
I always liked the band (and am inordinately fond of the nation as well, despite ourselves), though I never forgave their assault on my native language (and theirs, too, come to think of it) of their monstrous first hit, “Horse with No Name”. I mean, let’s face it, lines like “In the desert you can remember your name, 'Cause there ain't no one for to give you no pain.” What is that supposed to mean? As every person who has sought, or will ever seek, election to the Presidency of these United States says, “God Bless America” (even if no one has sneezed).
Anyway, that was Saturday evening’s itinerary and here I was at half past afternoon, minding my own business. Michelle, who had been readying herself to do something with her mother, wearing the face that she keeps in a jar by the door, came down the hall and peering into my face, as if I were in a cave, announced loudly she’d "had it" with the hiding and "here!" with a flourish that would make Brandi Chastain jealous, showed off her two new tattoos, all the while doing that impersonation of her mother, my wife, that cracks all of us up.
I don’t understand tattoos-on men. I’m not sure what to say about them on a woman even less so when the woman happens to be my daughter. I knew that at some point earlier in her life (she has a lot less earlier than I do, but that’s only because I have decades on her) she had musical notes tattooed on her ankle. These new tattoos seemed to continue the musical motif and I decided to NOT ask when or where (or why) she’d gotten them, though I did appreciate learning that one of them, on her back, ‘isn’t finished yet.’
Since we are a species who has figured out a way to walk on the moon and touch the floor of the ocean, but still cannot see the back of our own head or body unassisted, I’m not sure how she knows it’s unfinished. As for why she had to tell me about the tattoos at all much less on Saturday afternoon, I am clueless as well. Perhaps it was National Tell the Grey-Haired and Doddering Fool Parent in Your House Something Disconcerting Day and I just didn’t get the note.
I sat there on the couch while she waited and looked at me while I looked at her and waited while she waited. We were silent, both of us, for a long period of time. I wasn’t, and am still not, sure what I was supposed to say or do. I decided, if I had to choose between her bringing home two tattoos or two newborns, I’d opt for the ink. Ever her father’s daughter, she demanded to know how I’d feel if she came home with one baby and one tattoo. "Welcome to my life, tattoo. We've a long time together, me and you."
I wasn't sure if we were waxing philosophic or negotiating and wasn't sure I could tell the difference (sort of like between finished and unfinished tattoos). I reminded her that we have a fixed menu and no substitutions are allowed, or desired. I suppose this was a parent-child bonding moment though it sure felt a lot more like the Spanish Inquisition. I can't wait for it to become a fond memory, assuming, of course, I can recall it at all in my sunset years. I already have the shades on-let the glow on the horizon begin.