Who Makes You Blush?Posted: April 13, 2012
Come on in. Pretend you’re a date or a golfing buddy. Your choice.
The first thing that happens when you walk into my parents’ little cape, after you shake hands and sit down is the start of embarrassing story time. This tradition goes back as far as I can remember. Since gas prices are so high, why not come for a virtual visit?
One of my dad’s favorite stories of all time is the fishing song. He’s told it to every woman I’ve ever invited over to the house and he’s told it to my children so many times that one day my daughter mentioned it in a radio interview… She actually sang part of it!
The story begins one January day when we were going to catch eels on the ocean. It was around thirty degrees, maybe colder. If you’ve spent time on the ocean you know that with the whipping wind in winter, it gets mighty cold.
Before we left, my dad checked inside my shirt and saw I didn’t have long underwear on, so he sent me back upstairs to get them. I was about nine years old at the time and for a nine year old I was a tough kid. Dad had us hauling firewood in winter, working in the garden in the summer and working on whatever other projects he could find in between.
So… as cocky nine year olds do, I went upstairs and waited about five minutes and came back down. Sans long underwear. Of course dad didn’t check. You didn’t mess with dad or you got smacked. So we loaded the aluminum boat and away we went.
About an hour later, dad is standing in the water spearing eels, and catching a bunch. The wind is whipping off the ocean and the aluminum seat is conducting freezing temperatures right up my behind. I’m colder than I’ve ever been in my life. The problem was that dad was catching lots of eels and there was no way he was leaving.
I told him I was freezing and I wanted to go. To understand what that meant to nine year old me, you have to hear another story that I’ll tell you later. Trust me for now, I didn’t complain a lot. Almost never.
Dad came over to the boat and checked again to see if I had my long underwear on. He might have taken me home if I’d had it on, but probably not. When he discovered that I’d tricked him he did what I thought was the cruelest thing in the world.
He started singing…
Chrissy Martin don’t wear drawers
won’t you kindly lend him yours…
(Chris Martin is my real name)
Not very imaginative. One verse. Over and over for hours. I never heard the end of that song. He’s told that story to everyone I’ve ever brought home and now I’ve told it to you.
For years I left the room whenever he started on that story. It infuriated me.
A few years ago my oldest daughter realized how much it drove me nuts and started singing it to me. That’s when I did something about it. I thought long and hard about that day. There was a lesson and I learned it well. It certainly could have been taught in a kinder way, but what had been a lightning rod for negative emotions for years lost its sting once I thought about it. It may sound easy, but it actually took a while.
At some point I think I realized that my anger was that he sang the song, not that it was particularly embarrassing. I was just a kid being a kid. That’s a mistake I can live with.
I typed this whole blog and didn’t bang one key, so I guess I’m over it.
Don’t tell that to Charles Marston, the father in Sin And Vengeance. He messed up and paid for it dearly. I wonder if I was channeling that song when I wrote him? Maybe it’s a good thing my dad doesn’t read my books. Or my blog!
What’s the embarrassing story your family or your spouse tells about you?
Does it still drive you crazy?