My parents were both pretty good at being tough cop. Mom had a meaningful frown, and Dad had a loud voice, so my brother and I spent a fair amount of time working out how to break bad news to them. Sorry, I forgot (to go, to do, to write, to walk, to say, to thank, to bring home -- whatever) wasn't usually good enough. Especially if you had also forgotten yesterday and last week and the week before. Dave and I would dream up excuses or prior commitments, we'd lie and deny and back each other up, we'd ... why am I going on? You know what we did. You did it too. We acted like a typical family.
So now it's a long time later and my dad has some news to break to us. And the shoe is on the other foot. He calls me first.
Your mom and I are not going to Florida, he says. The doctor doesn't like her cough, and he thinks we should wait. So I am going to have to cancel the tickets.
This is indeed bad news. They've been trying to get down for a while, and it looked like they had finally found a window of time between appointments. I said I was sorry to hear, and we chatted for a bit. I got a sense of him not wanting to hang up.
Anything wrong? I asked.
I ... don't want to phone Dave and tell him, he says. He'll get mad, and say we should get another opinion. Or go anyway.
My brother argues for a living, and doesn't have a lot of respect for the medical profession. And he really wants our parents to have a good time.
You mean, I say, that you're afraid he'll yell at you.
Well, yeah, says Dad.
I'm smiling on my end of the phone. I tell Dad about Dave feeling exactly the same about him, back when we were kids. I offer to call Dave for him, and let him yell at me first. Dad is laughing himself by now.
No no, he says. I'll face the music.
I wondered what typical looked like so I googled it. The picture up there is titled: Another Typical Breakfast. I want it badly.