All of us have been embarrassed by our parents at some point in our lives.
When I lived with my parents, my dad used to yell at cars that drove down our street too fast. He would sit on my neighbor’s porch on warm summer evenings and I could hear him scream “Slow down!” from my bedroom, where I was usually ensconced in a video game. I would shake my head in disbelief and silently thank the Gods of Teenage Angst that none of my friends lived within earshot of our house.
This wasn’t the only thing he did to embarrass me, of course, but it sticks out because, well, he was screaming at cars.
As I sat in my bedroom and bristled at my dad’s actions, I vowed to myself that I would never, ever do Hamster-Style again anything like that when I grew up.
The only problem with that vow was that I failed to take one thing into consideration: my genes.
Last summer the city I live in removed all stop signs in my neighborhood and replaced half of them with yield signs. So now only half of the traffic has to let up on the gas pedal as they zoom through the neighborhood.
Surprisingly, there has not been one accident since this initiative was passed. But that hasn’t stopped some drivers from speeding down our side streets.
(See where I’m going with this?)
A few weeks ago, while I was already frustrated trying to balance my laptop bag, coffee mug, and lunchbox, all while trying to dig my house key out of my pocket, I heard a car a few blocks away zooming toward my house.
As it passed, I spun around in frustration (I still couldn’t find the key) and yelled, “Slow down!.” Then I recoiled in horror at what I had done.
I had become my dad.
That teenager who had vowed 17 years earlier to never yell at automobiles had been replaced by, well, a dad. What would come next? Clicking on spam links in my e-mail?
As these thoughts passed through my head, and I finally gained entry into my house, I thought about my girls. They would soon have to deal with a father who yelled at cars and did things that would surely embarrass them in front of their friends.
But if they have a problem with that, I have one word for them: genes.
Sooner or later we all become our parents.
Whether we like it or not, we will inherit some of their worst traits and try to pass them off as our own.
Right now my girls think I’m pretty funny. But the goofiness will soon wear off, only to be replaced by eye-rolling and door-slamming.
The thing is, I can’t help it. This is what my dad did, what his dad did, and probably what his dad did times infinity. But my girls are going to have to learn this the hard way, which is to say sheer embarrassment.
My dad told me the same story for the third time last week.
When my wife got home from work later that day, I told her how my dad was repeating stories on a regular basis.
“You already told me,” she said.