Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Five Unforgettable Things My Mother Taught Me
I sometimes wonder if I’m the only one who remembers simple rules my mother taught me while growing up. It’s weird because although I’m actually old enough to have a teenage kid, I still think of them. I guess this could be a spin-off of the blog where I complained about how I never forget various comments I’ve endured throughout my lifetime…
1. “When washing your face, never rub! Always pat dry.” I don’t know where she got this from, but it was something she always instructed me to do when washing my face. To this day, every evening when I roughly scrub my impossible-to-remove eyeliner with a washcloth, I feel guilty for not softly “patting” my eye lids clean or dry.
2. “When shaving your legs, never go above the knee.” One summer, my mom walked in on me while shaving the barely-there hairs off my legs and exclaimed, “Never above the knee!” I’m not sure why this even happened – I was much too young to be shaving my legs that summer. I guess a friend said she did it, so I had to do it. But this “never above the knee” stuff makes me laugh. I guess back in the ‘80s, moms didn’t know people wax and shave their entire bodies.
3. “Don’t take candy from strangers.” OK, this is very true and as adults, we should heed this warning. Think about the Andrew Lusters of the world passing women Roofies in their drinks. Then there was my economics teacher in high school. Someone in my class offered him a cupcake and he refused. He told us a wild story about how in the ‘70s a student gave him a brownie and it was a special brownie and he was wacked out of his mind all day.
4. “Don’t get in the car with someone you don’t know!” As with rule number 3, this is still true today, I guess unless it’s someone you pay, such as a limo or cab driver. The one time I did this, I swear the outcome could have gone horribly wrong. It was during my rave days. My friend Kristina and I drove out to Deer Park to hit up our favorite “rave” club, Caffeine. Thirty minutes from home and my 1979 Mercedes 300D decided that was the perfect night to cease all operations. Stuck out in Suffolk county at 11PM alongside the Southern State, before cell phones, we nervously accepted a ride from a nut job. He kindly taxied us to some godforsaken area off the highway to use a payphone and kept shutting his headlights off. We truly thought he was going to kill us that night. He ended up instead, prank calling me for months because he had my contact info. Originally we asked him to call AAA and he came back saying they didn’t believe him – we later discovered that AAA would never do that. They said they take all calls seriously and if it prevented a stranded motorist from taking a ride with a freak, they wouldn’t insist on speaking to the driver/AAA member.
5. “Don’t eat raw cake mix!” Come on, who doesn’t love to lick the spoon from a Better Crocker cake mix? I know raw egg is what's holding it all together, but sorry Mom, I can’t resist and to this day, I insist on licking the bowl and spoon and hope I don’t catch a disgusting case of Salmonella.
There were lots of other little rules like, “No soda before bedtime” which my cousins still remember from when I babysat them in fifth grade. Basically that’s true, caffeine can keep you up. My mom was always pretty laid back and I learned this the hard way when staying with friends at their homes.
My dad’s thing was, “No elbows on the table.” I still have trouble with that one and it’s funny because my husband is really good about that, yet he often holds his spoon like a sailor – that was my childhood friend’s moms rule. She always made sure we held our spoons properly. To this day, I always notice if someone is gripping their fork or spoon with a fist-like motion and think of my friend’s mom.
She had a proper British accent and that alone made you sit up straight. I stayed with that friend and her family for a week in 1983 and I swear this woman couldn’t stand me. I had many bad habits. She nearly had a nervous breakdown because I always threw my dirty clothes into the hamper inside-out. I think of that when folding my husband’s clothes and they’re, of course, always inside-out. “I’m leaving them inside out to teach you a lesson,” the mother yelled to me from the family’s laundry room. I sometimes leave my husband’s clothes inside out and smile thinking of that summer stay at their home.
My high school boyfriend’s parents had an obsession with drying the bathroom sink after each use. I couldn’t get the hang of that, but he was so good – he did it every time. Then I think my college friend Jen had to do that for fear the wrath of her mom too. I wish I could get my husband to clean his toothpaste splatters off the bathroom mirror and sink, but I know that’s really wishful thinking. Each time I rinse it off, I think of my once 15-year-old boyfriend nervously drying the sink and surrounding area and wonder what it’s like in other people’s homes.