Telling Tales – Family Secrets
By ANGEL KANE
As we were rushing to get ready for school Wednesday morning, the words I heard stopped me in my tracks. From the kitchen, I could hear my middle child revealing a closely guarded family secret. One I had demanded never to be exposed!
“Oh yeah – well I don’t care what you call me,” she said, “because you wear girl shirts to school!” (And she wasn’t talking to her sister.)
Then there was a silent pause, followed by a whispered, “No I don’t. Mama picks out my shirts.”
Immediately, I was transported back to the spring of 1979. It was my cousin, Jerry’s, birthday party. Jerry is one year older than me. My dad and his mother were siblings, we lived down the street from each other and we were practically siblings ourselves. (Jerry was my sibling…who got everything!)
After a day filled with cakes, balloons and festivities, my aunt brought out the grand finale. A new bike! A green, shiny, three-speed with a big bow on it!
I looked at the bike. Looked at my joyous cousin, looked my equally joyous parents and said (out loud):
“Ha! That’s a girls’ bike.” (And my cousin, Jerry… is not a girl.)
Suddenly, I was yanked into a back room, by my not so joyous parents, who forbade me to ever expose this closely guarded secret. To say I was threatened would be an understatement. In fact, in today’s world, I’m sure my parents would have lost custody over the things they said they’d do to me, if I ever gave away the secret.
Believing that my parents were not lying and that retribution would be swift – I kept that secret all summer long…as I followed my cousin up and down the neighborhood streets… on my old, hand-me-down Huffy.
For my middle child, that day was Wednesday, when her little brother dared to eat the last waffle in the house and then proceeded to call into question her IQ.
As my son, came running towards me – in his green polo …with buttons on left side, I did what any overworked, overstressed mother (who had failed to do laundry in a week) would do…
I lied and claimed the shirt was… unisex.
To which my middle child responded, “No, it isn’t, I picked it out of the girls’ section of the Gap!”
The look in my son’s eyes was much like the look my cousin Jerry gave me that summer of ‘79 after I had enthusiastically revealed to him that he had been riding a girls’ bike all summer long.
“This is not a girls’ bike! You are a fat liar!” he said as tears came streaming down his face.
To which I responded, “It is too a girls’ bike, crybaby, and by the way – – your mother also lied to you about your duck. It didn’t ‘run away’ at Easter.”
(Yes, we were a family filled with deep, dark secrets.)
Retribution was swift and every bit as harsh as they said it would be.
So harsh that to this day, I cringe when I see a girls’ three-speed… or eat duck!