Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Please pass the pepper down to Cellblock 99

In an attempt to become even more organized than we already are – which is hilarious because I can NEVER even find the scissors - Craig decided to organize our file cabinet which holds all of our documents, taxes, letters, photos and operating instructions from the last 21 years of marriage. I agreed it was a good idea, as long as he was the one organizing while I read a book on the back porch. Drinking a cold soda. And napping in between.

Which is exactly what I was doing last weekend while he and 11-year-old Lily were upstairs sitting amidst a huge pile of papers, organizing.

I’d come in periodically to get a drink and overhear, “Is this a LOVE LETTER from you to mom? Ew, gross!”

Or “Did you really dress like that when you were a teenager?”

But one conversation took me completely by surprise. I had slipped in quietly and my presence in the kitchen below was unknown to either of them. Here’s what I overheard.

“When was mom arrested?” Lily asked.

“What?” asked Craig, in a voice that was, I’m sad to say, not startled in the least.

“Why does mom have a mug shot?”

“Oh, that’s from mom’s darker years during her time in jail.”


I instantly ran to the bottom of the stairs and screeched, “WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?”

Craig, laughing, yelled down, “Lily found your ‘before’ picture from the orthodontist – you know, the one they take so they can take the ‘after’ picture when you get your braces off? Well, she thought it was a mug shot. She knows I’m joking.”

Does she? DOES SHE?

Because now I’m wondering how many other “stories” this man has told our children over the years when I’ve truly been out of earshot.

They already know the embarrassing parts from my own self-deprecating story telling:

• Mom was once a singer in a garage band in high school. (We actually practiced in a converted car port, but it’s not very cool to say, “Yeah, I’m a singer in a converted car port band,” is it? Not a lot of street cred there.)

• Mom had Pat Benetar hair in high school.

• Mom once asked her own mother if she could legally change her name from Eileen to Pepper after the main character on “Police Woman,” Angie Dickinson. Because Pepper is most definitely cooler than Eileen, right?

• Mom was once a member of the Tiger Beat Scott Baio fan club.

Besides, does Craig really want to go down the path of telling stories on one another? Because I have a mullet, VW van and a pierced ear that says he doesn’t.

The most disturbing thing is that this occurred while I was at home, albeit outside. What happens when I leave town for work for a few days? He could be telling them all kinds of tales.

What if I come home from a trip and Lily eyes me suspiciously before asking me if I’ve ever been friends with a band of pirates?

I think I’ll just answer, “Oh sure … when I was in prison.”

Eileen Burmeister is a freelance writer who lives in Winchester, Ore. She can be reached at burmeistereileen@gmail.com or you can follow her on Twitter at EBurmeister.

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