Hello dear readers, how are your wonderful worky Wednesdays going? I don’t really care, I’m still on holiday (weather reports indicate a cloud of smug will be heading your way. Sorry about that). As before, I won’t be able to reply to your comments as I’ll either be trapped under the weight of an incredibly large cocktail or will be hiking up something historic in thoroughly inappropriate footwear, but please go ahead and enjoy this portion of linguistic gymnastics, regardless.
When I was younger (I’m not that old now so it’s not a long stretch of the memory) I remember declaring that my worst fear in all of the world, far greater than a pit of disgruntled snakes or a deathy fall from a vertiginous cliff, was that I should end up like my mother. This literally made me quake in my Doctor Marten boots (actually, maybe it was a long time ago, I haven’t worn anything quite so sensible for what feels like eons). Well, it’s no longer a fear, it’s actually a reality!
When you’re a teenage girl (or ‘vile little jumped up turd’ as I think most people know them), your mother is the oldest, least fashionable person on the entire planet and what’s more, she has single-handedly acquired the most embarrassing set of personal habits, purely to spite you and show you up in front of your friends. She isn’t really a person, she is a demonic hell beast, sent to earth to plague your existence and make sure you cringe at least 7 times a day with her deeply un-cool un-coolness. Your sole purpose then, it seems, as a teenage girl, is to fight the inevitable outcome that you will one day turn into this woman.
There are obvious differences between me and my mother. She has had four children, I’ve managed to avoid having even a small half. Her hair is lightened by age, my hair is lightened by a very expensive hairdresser. She has years of hard won wisdom, I have years of hard drink related stories. Actually, those last two are pretty much the same in my book. Anyway, in spite of all our differences, there was a moment not too long ago when I was hit by the sudden epiphanal realisation that she and I are frighteningly similar. As hard as my teenage self fought, it happened anyway. Just as surely as night follows day and a long trip to the loo follows a particularly hot curry, I have become like my mother.
The first time I was made aware of this was when I allowed a friend to read one of the many delightful e-mails my dearest mummy had sent me and the friend remarked, with no small amount of amusement, that the e-mail could have been crafted my own fair hand. If this had been said to me back in my school days, I would have been inconsolable and my friend would have had a Dr Marten boot print on her face, but now, well, this comparison actually caused me a moment of peacock feather-puffing joy. My mother totally rocks at penmanship!
I didn’t always enjoy her writing so much. No teenager wants their teachers to actually look forward to them being excused from P.E. because the accompanying note from home is a linguistic and comedic nugget of gold. Not once was a teacher presented with “she’s got a sore leg and can’t play hockey”, no, my school record must read like a medical journal written by the team behind Family Guy!
Two words: Plastic tubs. I have never in my life thought there would be an entire cupboard in my home dedicated to the storage of a variety of plastic tubs. It is not exactly a chic, sophisticated thing to find in the home of a young urbanite and yet there it is, a whole cupboard full of random tubs, boxes and jars. I don’t know how it happened but one day I noticed myself finishing a tub of shop bought pasta sauce and then washing out the tub so I could store homemade pasta sauce in it at a later date! If things carry on like this, I shall be growing and pickling vegetables instead of pickling my liver and then the transformation will be complete!
I like to think I have a firm grasp on the English language and that’s thanks to my mother, who imparted a not inconsiderable vocabulary on me, I have more than enough words to describe things. Why then, have I, like she, begun to replace perfectly acceptable words like “remote control” with “doo-hickey” and “doofer”?! When did “oojamaflip” become a legitimate term to describe the toaster when the word “toaster” is shorter, easier to say and actually able to convey what the chuff you’re on about to another human being? At this rate, my mother and I shall only be able to communicate with each other as “what’s-her-chops” over the road won’t know what a “dingle-dangle” is or that the wildly flailing arm gesticulation that accompanies the sentence is in fact an indicator of where one might find such a thingummy-jig.
My darling mother has a beautiful face, it’s one of those that most people delight on seeing and is generally well thought of, but growing up, my sisters and I learned to fear it on occasion, all thanks to “The Look”. Far worse than any slapped rump or confiscated toy, with one flick of a well arched eyebrow, my mother’s face could produce an expression so gusset spolingly intense that even the most hardened of
politician criminal would confess all their sins and beg to be sent to their rooms just to avoid this laser beam of a pursed lipped glare. Judging by the speed with which I have restaurant managers assist me with the administration of complimentary wine, I’m pretty sure I’ve inherited “The Look”. You have been warned [Insert burning sensation in the back of your head here] – I’m watching you! (I’m not really, I’m on holiday, remember!)
The final nail in the lid of the turning-into-your-mother coffin has been struck. I have caught myself, on more than one occasion, ridiculing the music and clothing of the younger generation. I’m not even old enough to be considered old-fashioned and yet I’ve had to stop myself from yanking up the trousers of silly young boys who swagger past with their bottoms poking out and their undercrackers on view for all to see. There’s no turning back once you’ve uttered the damning phrase “the music in my day was so much better than this tripe”. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Yep, that’s because mother said it first!
The list of commonalities goes on and on and I have to say that my teenage fear of becoming my mother was really rather daft. You see, my mother is actually pretty marvellous and I can see nothing wrong with turning into her at all as she’s an absolute legend. There is one line I shall draw though, one thing I pray never becomes part of my modus operandi. I will happily take on many of my mother’s habits and foibles and treasure them like the well-worn family heirlooms that they are but I never, EVER want to grunt as I get out of a chair!