“You know what, I once skied four miles back to the car & then drove home after you broke my wrist.” It’s one of those things that my father loves to tell me.

OK, for starters I DIDN’T break his wrist. I simply suggested that since we were cross country skiing & that since we were in the middle of no where, & since there was fresh powder, we should probably take on that nice & winding hill. I mean, no one else was going to & it seemed like a shame to just let it be. It might have been a bad idea, but I was only thirteen & he was an adult, so if he didn’t think it was a good idea, why the hell was he listening to a thirteen-year-old that already clearly had no idea where he was in relationship to the car?

And second, it’s not my fault he doesn’t know how to ski. You lift your toes when you get air, dad! It’s common fucking sense!

None of that changes the fact that I broke his wrist. Or that I led him four miles back to the car, following our old trail, rather than the half-mile across the field to where we were actually parked.

Those four miles, with the wrist that I broke, is one of those things dad likes to bring up to tell me how tough he is.

“When I was a kid my father made me wallpaper the kitchen when I was sick with mono.” That’s another one he likes to bring up. Again, he doesn’t mention that, he was thirty-years-old at the time & it was his kitchen.

I’m guessing his father told him the equivalent of “I once skied four miles back to the car after you broke my wrist” type of story.

My family looks at illness & injury much the same way that a pack of wolves look at a lonely wounded deer. They circle in for the kill. If you cough & have to blow your nose, they see it as a sign of weakness & they move in for the kill.

I had largely forgotten about this in my decade-and-a-half of not living with them but now that finances have forced me to move back in with them & I got sick as a dog, the memories are starting to come back.

There is always tissue paper in my parents house, mom buys it in bulk & keeps an entire shelf of it in the closet with the family towels. The display/guest towels are well hidden incase one of us needs to use them. If it is summer & the ragweed gets to you, go ahead & grab one. If your sick, its best to sneak a roll of toilet paper & hide in the basement every time you need to blow your nose.

If you’re sick & they see you going for the tissue paper, they smell blood. You can expect them to, at best groan & at worst bombard you with insults over your use of the toilet paper.

Only pussies get sick & only the weakest pussies blow their nose when they get sick.

Usually these stories are products of having a mother with OCD. And that does play into it. If someone sneezes you have to deep clean & sanitize everything in the house. But the anti-sickness attitude, that comes from a mother who was an air force brat & a father who, after failing to make the Green Berets several times because he was too short, finally retired as a noncom.

It was a military family outside of the military, even my grandmother was a veteran. Normally latchkey kids don’t have to make their beds mine had to have a military tuck. So when you get sick in this family, it’s a sign of weakness. It’s not just me either, my little sister knows better than to be sick around mom & dad.

When I broke my ribs in high school because I thought I could climb whatever Scott could climb, I was in trouble for tell my coaches. NOT for breaking my ribs.

When you have to throw up, you do it on the sly. You’re better off if dad thinks you are in the bathroom masturbating.

“You know what makes you feel better when you have bronchitis? Good hard manual labor.” I’ve never really been that Spartan. When I had bronchitis I would have much rather stayed in bed than shoveled the driveway. Shoveling the driveway in a good Chicago winter, that only made me feel worse. Looking back on it, after all these years I still stand by the fact that it only made me feel worse.

But then, like today, you get the little nuggets of joy. Mom & Dad got the same bull shit bug that I got.

“When I was a kid my father made me wallpaper the kitchen when I was sick with mono.”

“You know what, I once skied four miles back to the car & then drove home after you broke my wrist.”

When Mom & Dad get sick, they fucking cave. “You know what will make you feel better dad? A nice ten-mile hump through the nature preserve.” Sure, sure, I’m just as sick as they are, I totally don’t want to do it, I just want that to be rewarded with that little ping of victory when, as predicted, he tells me that he’d rather just rest on the couch & watch TV.

Victory is mine! You can talk Sparta all you want dad, but you’re just as much a pussy as I am.


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