In each family a story is playing itself out, and each family’s story embodies its hope and despair. – August Napier
The porch was dark. My father sat to my right in his spot. A large, cushioned, wicker rocking chair. I sat in a sister chair, with white paint worn from age and a beige cushion tattered and torn by many years of use.
Dad smoked his usual cigar. Smoke blew regularly in my face and I would dodge back and forth to avoid the cloud of offending fumes.
My mother, recently diagnosed with COPD, sat on the end of the porch in her white rocker, recently purchased from Cracker Barrel. Her chair was strategically located to avoid as much of the smoke as possible since her COPD treatment suggests being away from polluted air.
It was cold and I was under dressed. My silver sparkled flip flops were not protecting my feet and my flimsy tank and walking shorts provided little insulation against the cool evening air. I wanted to go to bed but it was clear my parents wanted to chat. I don’t see them often and when I do, especially sans kids, they like to have adult conversations. In addition to being tired, I wanted desperately to avoid their neighbor, a married black man named Rick who likes to tell me how he wants to "get with that white stuff". That "white stuff’ would be me. It is not a pleasant experience to be referred to as that white stuff one wants to "git" with.
Politics and later, abortion, became the conversation topic of the evening. I entered the conversation hesitantly.
I don’t know what party affiliation my parents claim. I don’t even know if they are registered to vote. I do know they are conservative and religious so I am going to guess, if they were forced to choose (if they haven’t already) they would claim they were Republican. My mother might claim Democrat status and would likely do so in favor of Irish Catholic politicians. I probably should know. I don’t.
"I hope McCain wins the Presidency" my father begins.
I momentarily choke on my diet Coke and realize a few seconds late I am expected to comment. He was apparently speaking to me.
"Oh?" I utter meekly. What I really want to say is "ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME?".
Dad, a veteran of the US Navy, banters on about McCain and the military and then begins to spew all this propaganda he has heard about Barack. Its wrong of course. I know this. But I don’t correct him. He is on a roll. He then proceeds to throw Hillary under the bus over a number of "expert" news reports he read. A few snide comments follow about women as leaders. menstruation, her bad hair cut, her husband and again he is rolling. Mom chimes in here or there and I just mutter a few "uh, huh and ohs".
I have nothing constructive to offer. As a liberal democrat, I struggle with my parents conservative views on politics, even more so when those views are based on flawed news reports and biased information. I decide to opt out of the conversation and realize being harassed by the married guy next door might not be so bad.
And then the A-Bomb arrives – from my mother.
"Abortion is wrong. I mean I agree that it is a woman’s choice but abortion is wrong." she says. It is no surprise to me that a 1940’s born Irish Catholic woman would take issue with abortion.
My dad chimes in and they begin talking about those pro-choice people, right to lifers and whats "best" for the child.
I am still quiet but my blood begins to boil a bit. I hear my dad say something about adoption. I am confident he has forgotten who is in his presence.
"Did you say something about adoption?" I pipe up.
"Yeah, I mean if you don’t want the kid, just give it away." he responds.
"Yah, right. That worked so well for me." I say.
My father realizes his blunder and looks to my mother for guidance. She looks away towards the neighbors house.
"Well, uh, no. I mean…" he stammers.
"I know what you meant. I knew it then and I know it now. I am going to bed. See you in the morning." I say as I take my cold feet and silver flip flops up the stairs.
Self protecting? Definitely.