Things your parents (probably) never told you, but mine will.
In case you haven’t noticed, I have an abnormal family. In fact, we call ourselves abi-something. On my last visit home, I came to the conclusion that my parents really, really need to have a blog, or a book, or something. A way to pass on their useful knowledge to the next generation. And trust me, they have a lot of useful knowledge, and they have no problem sharing it. They just don’t share it in a way that could reach the unwashed masses who are in need of it.
Both of my parents are smokers, a little less than chain smokers. And they both smoke outside, I am not sure why, everyone that lives in their house smokes, but it has been a rule for as long as I can remember to only smoke outside, so that’s where they go. Into the garage, that’s furnished with a small table, a few camp chairs, a few upside down buckets as make shift chairs and a space heater. On nights this is where my parents spend most of their time. Drinking beer and dispensing wisdom over cigarettes to passing teens and adults. You see, to get into the house you have to either risk the scary wooden steps which are creaky, and smell faintly of mildew or walk through the garage, and since the steps are very rarely lit, and the door more often locked, and the sisters (who visitors are most likely going to see) live in the basement, the garage is the common choice.
It’s a bit of a rite of passage, to walk through the cloud of cigarette smoke, say hello to the un-adult like adults, and pass into the basement. And since most of the kids smoke anyway they eventually find their way into the garage. And my parents make small talk. Small talk typically resolves into life lessons. Lessons these kids probably wouldn’t learn anywhere else. Lessons on things like, what you should say to the police, when you get pulled over and have illegal substances in the car and don’t want to get arrested, after lamenting a recent arrest.
From a young age, I learned the safe conversations to have with a police officer when trying to avoid arrest. First off you always address them properly. “Yes Sir,” or “Yes maim” goes along way. Never offer more information than is requested. Second, focus the conversations on the innocuous, like a “how bout them dawgs”, or “I really wish it would rain” especially in Georgia. Or you could always threaten the officer to arrest you.
When I was around six years old my mom took me and my sister and a few other kids to hear Bill Clinton speak, after the rally/speech/whatever she had planned to take us across the street, into the park, to have a picnic lunch. When trying to cross the street we were stopped by a police officer who told us that the park was closed. My mom argued with him, pointing out that the president had already left so there was no reason not to let us into the park. Finally frustrated she said, "Listen, we are going into the park. If you want to arrest me I will be right over there" we went into the park, my mom did not get arrested. She is quite fond of telling this story to kids, who are lamenting a recent arrest, especially if they felt like they were unjustly arrested, and let’s be honest. Very few people are arrested, thinking that they will be caught.
Some other life lessons I learned in my parent’s garage are:
Always pretend like you know the person who knows you.
If you say something with enough conviction odds are you can get people to believe you even if you have no idea what your talking about.
Just because someone keeps everything out in the open doesn’t mean they don’t have anything to hide.
Always say please and thank you, especially if you decrepitly want to be rude to who you are interacting with.
Friends come, and friends go, but enemies last forever.
What did your parents teach you?