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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Shiver Me Timbers! or Paul and Midge Run Away From Home

My father has always seen the world as a place brimming with opportunity. Always looking for the next big break, he reads books like “How to Win Friends and Influence People” and “Think and Grow Rich”.

He is a man in touch with his dreams.

“Do you know what we could do?” A lot of conversations with my father start like that: Do you know what we could do?

Why, we could make and sell pine cone wreaths door to door for the holidays! We could unionize the trailer park babysitters! We could sell everything we own and move to the Caribbean…

It is the Year 2000.

“Hey, Dad!” I call them, every now and then, just to test their memories; and it is as it has always been: they are sharper than I am.

“Patty!”

“Pearl.”

“Right,” he says. I can hear him winking. “You should come ‘round the house,” he says, “just so we can see what you look like.”

I laugh. “What’s going on?”

“Here,” he says, his voice already trailing off, “Speak to your mother.”

“Dad –“

Too late. “Mumma! It’s our first-born – “ He cuts himself off, speaks into the phone again. “You didn’t win the lottery, did you?”

“No,” I say. “I just –“

“Mumma! Phone!” There’s a good-natured, muffled bit of shouting and then the sound of my mother wrestling the phone from my father.

She says what she always says: “Why, Miss Pearl! So nice to hear from you!”

And I say what I always say: “Well, hello there, Mother!”

My mother is smiling into the phone. “Has he told you yet?”

“Who he?”

“Your father he.”

“No. What?”

“Oh,” she says, laughing in that what-will-he-think-of-next way she has, “We’re moving to the Caribbean.”

I shake my head side to side. Surely something large has lodged itself in my head. “The where now?”

“You remember when I bought your father sailing lessons last year?”

“Sort of,” I mumble. The truth is that I don’t. Those two are always doing weird things. Like the time I showed up at their house only to find them, leather-clad and in the midst of climbing on to their new Harley…

“Well, you know your father. He took right to it. Must’ve been all those years of crop-dusting, you know – “

“He was the drummer in an all-lesbian band, too, but that doesn't make him –“

“Pearl!” my mother scolds. “Nevertheless,” she continues, “I guess there are a lot of similarities between flying an airplane and driving one of those – Paul!” she shouts off stage, “What are we buying again?”

“A catamaran, Mumma!”

“Yes,” she says into the phone, “a catamaran. And you can come down and see us. Won’t that be fun?”

My head swims. Raised in a trailer, in home-made clothes with home-cut hair, where cereal that came in boxes was seen as extravagant and where there was never, as far as my mother could see, a time when you would need more than three pairs of pants, the idea of them having the money to move to --

Ah. Suddenly I see a little more clearly.

My mother is still talking. “… sell everything at a garage sale and that should pretty much take care of it.”

“So when are you leaving?”

“Just under two months now,” she says.

There is a sound in the background, perhaps of a tuba and an accordion falling down a flight of stairs. He's turned up the polka music for my enjoyment.

“Pearl!” my father is shouting, off-phone, so to speak. “Remember these guys? Remember the Slovenian All Stars?”

“Oh, for land’s sake,” my mother mutters. “Pearl, I’ve got a couple of boxes for you, so be sure to get me on your calendar in the next few weeks.”

She hangs up, no doubt to discover my father running speaker wire into the bathroom or something on that order.

Parents.

46 comments:

mybabyjohn/Delores said...

Maybe the kittehs would like a trip with mom and dad...who knows what can happen over deep water. Not a bad trade off though....things a little scarce as a kid for visiting mom and day in the Caribbean now. You've got super cool parents.

Audubon Ron said...

Your father was a lesbian drummer? Huh.

Did you know yesterday was National Pirate Day? Srsly, Google it.

Let me know when they start pouring drinks in the Caribbean. I favor paper umbrellas in my drink.

Glen said...

fantastically surreal - explains a lot

jabblog said...

While they're busy plotting and planning they're not worrying about growing old(er):-)

Tom G. said...

Amazing.

I want to hear the story about you're dad drumming in a lesbian band. Sounds like the makings of another great children's story!

Simply Suthern said...

Seems all his schemes and door to door days have paid off. Kudus to Mom And Pop.

Simply Suthern said...

"I'm Just a Drummer in a Lesbian Band" Wasnt that a song way back when?

Camille said...

Holy Crap - I love your parents. I had no clue where this was going and then, there they are, standing on the deck of a catamaran! So cool. You most resemble your mother btw. Good looking crew.

Pearl said...

They are pretty amazing people. The early years were quite difficult in a heartbreaking sort of way, and they've worked for/deserved what they have.

I've written about my dad and his bands. Will have to look for those...

BlackLOG said...

My father was a bit of a dreamer – Some of his plans included

Emigrate to Tasmania (Population around 3 and a lot of devils – we as a family would have doubled the population*)
Own a dog (He described them as walking poop machines)
Run a video shop (This was a man who invested in a Betamax video player when the smart money went for VHS)
Purchase a holiday home in Portugal (the development was still unfinished 10 years later)
Live to a reasonable age (sadly didn’t make it past 42)

My mother managed to thwarted all of his plans (except owning the betamax video player) she smokes 40 a day, he never touched a cigarette in his life and yet he was the one that dies of cancer….

* For entertainment purposes this figure may have been un-exaggerated a tad**

** By roughly 507,624 give or take a few thousand ….

Diane said...

My Dad dropped my Mom (in a non-physical sense) into many, many different places. Usually on a ranch. Within minutes, she was armed with paint and brushes and various cleaning implements and attacking any surface within reach. She could create 'home' out of anything. And did. If you asked the two of them which was the more adventurous, they would both unhesitatingly point towards my Dad. But if you asked me, it was quite the other way around. And you said it all when you said, "Parents".

Hospitable Scots Bachelor said...

What a brilliant thumbnail sketch of two wonderful folk. Lucky You! I feel like I've known them for years.

Joyful Things said...

Good for them! I love your parents and their sense of adventure and drive to follow any dream. Maybe not the most advantageous for kids growing up among such chaotic pipe dreams (I speak from experience as one watching other kids have a life I could only wish for) but that is what shapes us into the neurotic and fun people that we are today. Do you know the song "Little Boxes"? That is not us.

That gentleman's lady said...

They sound like they have a lot of fun with whatever life brings them.

Two months, huh?

Joshua said...

I'm waiting for the day when my parents call to say they're just going to live wherever the hell they are at that moment.

And then their vet saying I need to claim their dog.

Eva Gallant said...

Woo hoo! I see vacations in the Carribean sans hotel costs in your future!

Susan in the Boonies said...

SO THEY DID IT????

My, oh, my, oh, my!!!

You know, my parents talked about buying a boat when my father was ready to retire. Then, 6 months before my father retired, my mother died.

My Dad still got the boat.

But how I wish she had been along to enjoy the ride.

I think it's AWESOME that your folks did that, Pearl!

Shelly said...

Hmmm....do we have the same parents, Pearl?

the walking man said...

I know you live in the Land of 10,000 lakes but do any of them lead to the Caribbean?

Dawn @Lighten Up! said...

Oh how I love your parent stories. That is awesome and I don't blame them one bit. I am getting the h-e- double sticks outta this latitude just asap. Word.

Pearl said...

FYI, they lived in the Caribbean for roughly 6 years, returning, of course, as Minnesotans are wont to do, every summer (they kept a little A-frame trailer in something of a retirement type of trailer park. They had, hands down, the cutest, best-kept lawn/flowers, in the court.) They still tend to go for two weeks in the winter...

mrwriteon said...

I've said it before, I like your dad's style. Wish I could be so cavalier. And drummer in an all-lesbian band, to boot. Few are the men who could ask for more.

bruce said...

this is prolly your best story to date.

totally cool...

lisleman said...

What a nice surprise picture at the end. I think about doing this and that but so often it just gets pushed back and forgotten. What a change warm tropics vs. cold MN. Have you spent time down there with them?

R. Jacob said...

Mom and Dad sure look A Lert to me! Love your new profile picture. You are sure one heart breaker!

Russ said...

Oh to retire to the Caribbean. I'll get there some day.

Kara said...

Now, that makes perfect sense to me. When my turn comes, I'll give you my daughter's email and you two can start a support group.

Rawknrobyn.blogspot.com said...

That's kind of alarming and very exciting. As always, I love your writing. I especially like that you can hear your dad wink and your mom smiled into the phone.

Hm, what will they sell at the garage sale that will net them enough $ to relocate to the Caribbean?

xoRobyn

Leenie said...

SOooo I'm looking at the photo, and your dad has on SOCKS, in the Caribbean. You can take'em out of the icebox, but you can't take away the deep scars of endless winter. GREAT story as usual my friend.

Dr. Kathy McCoy said...

Wonderful story about your parents who sound like great characters! I'm intrigued by your Dad drumming in a lesbian band! And now to life on a catamaran? So nice to see people still having dreams -- and acting on them!

Anonymous said...

My dad and step mom did the exact same thing on a 40 foot sailboat!! They had such crazy adventures!!
-I-

Gigi said...

I wonder....do they need a deckhand? If so, I'm available. Now granted, I can't swim nor do I know anything about boats but, hey! How hard could it be?

I LOVE that picture! That's what two very happy people look like!

Cloudia said...

So I just moved off a boat,
and they're digging it now?

Tell them to report back in 20 friggen years, LOL!


Warm Aloha from Waikiki;

Comfort Spiral


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Joanne said...

Hope the cell phone never goes overboard; these stories are too good to miss.

Belle said...

Pearl, your parents are amazing!

Linda O'Connell said...

Two Caribbean cruises in the last two years, and I'm sold! Too bad we don't have enough stuff to sell to be able to afford to move. Kudos to your mom and dad.

HermanTurnip said...

I call dibs on being the cabin boy. When can I swing down and begin employment?

Leanne said...

Oh dear lord, I love this! Polka music? Your dad is my hero! And you mum is right about the pants. Any more is just showing off.

Tempo said...

Ive known a few lesbians...none of them male.. Obviously your strange parents are to blame for your sick sense of humor Pearl, at least now you will have somewhere nice to go on your holidays...

Symdaddy said...

Pearlchen, the similarities between your parents and mine ...?!?

Wow!

I nearly spotted one!

Roadshow said...

Great post Pearl, and good for them.

Pat said...

I might have known you had extraordinary parents.
You didn't let them down.

Daisy said...

Great post "Patty"! :-)

darlin said...

Wow, it sounds like you have the coolest parents going! Adventurous, spontaneous, totally in love and full of life and laughter. What a blessing!

Linda Myers said...

My son asked me why we never traveled when he was growing up. I said we were raising him at the time and couldn't afford it.

Lovely that your parents are enjoying so much!

alwaysinthebackrow said...

You must have written the ad where the newly moved-out child talks about the presumably bereft empty-nest parents who have been left behind. Rather than the imagined mourning for the lost child, the parents are living it up. I vote for living it up! But does it count if I want to bring my kids and their families with us?