“Everyone is wise until he speaks.”
~ Said by someone who has self control
Let me explain. As if I have to….
I come from a thick-skinned, sarcastic clan of Irish hooligans with excessive body hair who are masters at saying the wrong thing at the wrong time.
I’m the youngest of six kids, raised in a predominantly Irish Catholic family with a dose of Chilean for spice. Though, according to my father, the Irish DNA can kill any other DNA with just a pithy quote from Oscar Wilde.
We lived in the frozen tundra of Sartell, Minnesota in the ‘60s amongst a community of over-breeders. The entire town seemed to be populated by about eight families of fifteen kids each. My parents were barren in comparison.
I went to St. Francis of Xavier Elementary School and thought Richard Nixon was cute. I feel I need to share this shame to illustrate my compulsive need for constant and full disclosure. I also had a mad crush on Glen Campbell and Andy Williams. But that doesn’t feel nearly as shameful as the Nixon thing, hindsight being 20/20 and all. And, to answer your question, yes, I have odd taste in men.
So, you get the picture. As a typical youngest child, I do a lot of stupid stuff. It doesn’t help that I inherited my father’s inability to keep words and actions inside our brains from making awkward public appearances.
Like the time I pantomimed male masturbation in front of my family during a game of Cranium. As they all looked at me with gaping mouths I knew it was not the most appropriate choice to have made. And yet this didn’t occur to me until I had already simulated self-love in front of my parents.
In case you are wondering, I was acting out Master and Commander and I did win the round.
I have a rich familial history of this sort of behavior. Just to clarify, I don’t mean the public masturbation but the lack of editing oneself. I come from a long line of proud Irish impulsivity. And my father was the clan leader.
I can just imagine the insensitive blurting that occurred during the Potato Famine. There is a good chance we were actually kicked out of Ireland and just told people it was because of our insatiable need for starchy root vegetables.
I was mortified at my wedding when he asked my ultra-athlete sister-in-law if she still menstruated. This is very logical and appropriate wedding conversation for those of us who are afflicted with this disease. However, normal people may find it a bit unsettling. I’m sure it was a fleeting curiosity in his head and when he opened his mouth to take a bite of poached salmon, it simply fell out.
I don’t think my father was trying to insult or shock, I just think he didn’t really give a damn how his comments landed. I suspect he’d always been like this in his life so I won’t attempt to blame it on the insensitivity of the elderly.
Since my mother does not suffer the same affliction, she tended to sit in stunned silence. So, lacking any real counter-balance in my life, I started my career at a young age.
An early example: My first confession.
We had a super groovy macramé and guitar priest named Father Kramer at our church who I thought was the next coming of Bobby Sherman. Being the super cool dude he was, he decided it was a much gentler experience for children to sit in his office rather than the confessional to unload our myriad criminal acts.
As I sat swinging my feet on his big red leather office chair, he asked me if I had any misdeeds I felt I should confess to him and, of course, The Big Guy. It just so happened that I had bitten my sister Julie’s finger the week before. I maintain to this day that if you don’t want to get bit by a shark you don’t shake chum in its face so she should have known much better than to put it within biting distance. I drew blood.
After telling Father K this story, he looked at me solemnly and shook his head.
“You know, Irene, there is never a call for violence. Do you think you made the right choice in this situation?”
Not a second passed before, out of my little mouth tumbled:
“Well, shit Father, no one is perfect.”
My memory goes dark at this point either because I was literally smitten down by the very hand of God or all the drugs I’ve done subsequently have simply erased it. Either way, I do not recall getting punished for saying this so it only fed my belief that I was not in the wrong. This, in turn, helped to mold me into the solid overly honest and awkward adult I am today.
And I’m OK with that because, as we all know, no one is perfect.