If you’re old enough to have moved out of your parent’s house, you’ve likely realized by now that some of your parent’s habits – the ones you grew up with and come to think of it, remember quite often rolling your eyes about – are indeed eccentricities.
This new perspective on the differences between adult you and your parents is natural and is usually triggered when you go back home for a visit. Since my mother lives down the street from me, I get to observe such differences on a regular basis. And when I say “on a regular basis”, I mean every day.
Just recently I got to relive the frustration that comes with looking for a pen that actually works – a common occurrence while growing up in my mother’s house.
Let me explain . . .
For as long as I can remember my mother has always kept a jar of pens by the phone. Many of you may not be aware of this but once upon a long time ago – before cell phones and microwaves – speaking on the phone was done in a certain area of homes within the radius of the phone jack. To help you visualize, think of a phone on a short leash.
If you can picture this well, you realize now that keeping a pen (or like my mother, a jar of pens) next to the phone makes perfect sense because as we all know, looking for anything at the exact moment that we need it is futile.
(You have more luck finding a pen when you’re looking for something else – like when you realize that you’ve misplaced your keys. Looking for your car keys when you’re late for work absolutely guarantees that you’ll find a pen. This is a universal law – even more universal than “The Secret”.)
By now you’re thinking that a jar of pens by the phone is perfectly logical and how dare I call this an eccentricity. This is because clearly you’ve never been to my mother’s house. You see her jar of pens is “special”. It contains every single pen she’s ever come into contact with throughout her entire life.
Trying to find a pen in the jar THAT ACTUALLY WORKS is like playing Russian roulette at a speed date event.
The other day I received a call from a client while I was at my mother’s house. And while I was actually on my cell phone and could walk to the pen jar, I may as well have walked to the deserted island where the TV series “Lost” was recorded because every pen I reached for was bone dry.
Confession: Adult me should have seen this coming. I was raised on this pen jar, after all.
Eleven pens later I finally came across one that worked – but only because it was a pencil. (Dear client: thanks for your patience.)
The big question is obvious. Why, for the love of God, does she feel the need to keep all these pens?
Answer: Because according to my mother, you never know when you’ll need a pen that doesn’t work.
In my mother’s defense, last weekend my own adult daughter came back home for a visit. Apparently my collection of ragged towels is worthy of eyeball rolling.
But she doesn’t get it. Seriously, you never know when you’ll need a ragged towel.