My Parents are Strange: Unusual Ways of Showing Love

Shortly after the Anthrax scare of ’01, my father handed me a bottle of Cipro. It was a birthday gift, actually.

“It’s the antidote,” he said.

“I know. Why is it in my hand?” I asked.

“Just in case.”

“What about you?” I said. “Don’t you need this too?”

“I’ve lived my life,” he said. “You haven’t yet.”

I laughed silently at this. My dad has always been a fatalist. Just before Y2K he advised me to buy 10 cans of beans and a can opener, just in case the world came to an apocalyptic halt at midnight that New Year’s Eve. I went to Vegas instead.

Yesterday, I got a Light Box in the mail from my mother. This is essentially a rectangular pane of light that you place near your face for 15-45 minutes per day. The light can help some people who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder and other mood conditions, and some believe this is because the light impacts Serotonin, which has been linked to mood.

When I called for an explanation, she simply said, “It’s a late birthday present. You’ve been sounding down lately. Just try it.”

She was right. Life has been a little depressing lately, especially when you get multiple pass letters from publishing houses on a daily basis and some of your personal relationships could be described as “sucky,” to use Dr. Pete’s word. That said, I didn’t really consider myself a candidate for a Light Box, although I politely thanked her and hung up.

Tonight, I sat down in my powder blue, $8 pajamas from Marshalls (again, thank you Mom) on the floor. I looked at the Light Box and the Cipro (yes, I still have it despite the fact that it expired years ago) sitting in front of me. These items taken together, one to treat sullen mood, the other to inhibit DNA gyrase (I think), say a lot about my parents. They are strange people. Weird, neurotic, abnormal, unbalanced people who give boxes full of lightbulbs and the antidote to Anthrax as birthday presents. But here’s the kicker: they really do care, and that fact didn’t really sink in until tonight. My dad probably lied to his doctor to get that Cipro for me, saying it was for himself. And my mother knows that I won’t share too many of my personal problems with her, so if she can’t talk me through my problems, she reaches out for anything at all that might help me. At 38, I still have their unconditional love. And that’s a lot more than many people get.

Love comes in strange forms sometimes, you know?

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25 Responses to “My Parents are Strange: Unusual Ways of Showing Love”

  1. Emily says:

    Love does, indeed, come in strange forms.

    Weird gifts from my mom here: http://emilycavalier.com/2007/06/01/of-douchebags-wedding-rings/

    And in video form here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0m1TpldnWn4

    The last package a few weeks ago was a set of 12 huge containers of spices with a note that she’s mad at me.

  2. Lisa says:

    Hey Doc Rob,
    Long time fan, and first time commenting. I love your work. You make my day every time you post new material. I can’t wait to read your book!! I’m so curious. Why aren’t publishers fighting over your book is beyond me. I’m sure everyone who reads your material are all anxiously waiting to read it.

  3. I love those moments when you realize something that has been there the whole time. An epiphany of sorts. Great article, hope you are well and as for the rejections, you will here a 1000 no’s before a yes. I tell myself that every day and that one yes, will change your world.

  4. Rach says:

    12 Cans of beans and a can opener for Y2K, eh?
    Did your dad want you to fart your way through New years? (sorry, couldn’t resist!)
    PS – Light boxes, VERY handy things.

  5. Tracie says:

    Lightboxes are wonderful things if you need ’em. I think it’s sweet that she gave you one.
    Also, Emily’s mom wins the Insane Package Contest. Consider mine withdrawn from the competition, little plastic bells and planters from the dollar store have nothing on cheapo wedding rings.

  6. Nadia says:

    It recently hit me how much my parents love me… it’s one of the strangest but best moments in the world.

  7. Emily says:

    Tracie, my mom wins the insane contest (minus the package) many times as well, or at least she used to. It takes her kind of brilliance to compose boxes full of such scattered delight, joy and confusion.

  8. BL1Y says:

    A few weeks ago my mom told me that she doesn’t want to provide any help unless I agree to go back to practicing law.

    Parents have weird ways of expressing their affection.

  9. nikolina says:

    Haha, my dad gave me “Life Strategies For Teens” by Dr. Phil’s son at age 9. I’m sure the intentions were great, but I hearing that all my social anxiety was just my “bad attitude” really pissed me off.

  10. BL1Y says:

    Nikolina, I don’t know about Dr. Phil’s son, but I do know Dr. Phil is a jackass when it comes to kids.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0U5R4KzHHNA

    10 year old kid slaps his mom on film and Dr. Phil devotes a huge chunk of his show to berating the kid, but never once says anything to the mom about how moments before that she admitted to hitting the kid on the way to the filming.

    I’ve seen a few episodes where he deals with kids, and it really seems like he gets off on putting them in their place. I think it’s because they’re just not experienced and mature enough to express themselves effectively, so it’s really easy to win arguments with them.

    Dear Dr. Rob,

    If you ever become a douchebag celebrity therapist, be a Dr. Crane style douche, not a Dr. Phil style douche.

    Sincerely,
    Everyone

  11. Catherine says:

    This year my father gave me two gift cards to Target, not a bad gift. The cards though, featured pictures of a bride and groom, and the other baby booties.

    I put them in the hope chest that my mother renamed four years ago, “the hopless chest” FML

  12. Dorothy says:

    I directed a short solo piece a few years ago where the guys actually brought on stage all the odd pieces he had gotten from his mom over the years. It was exactly about what you just wrote about. About how much she did love him even though she wasn’t exactly expressing him in a way that was meaningful to him. It was a sweet piece and I’m proud to say I helped him see it was a love “song” to his mom.
    Then I went and trained to become a drama therapist. 🙂

    That said, don’t mock the light box. That shit works!
    I was doubtful too, but it truly helped me through winters in Seattle (not much lighter in NY, right? ). I use it at breakfast and dinner (10-15 mns once or twice a day) and I feel warmer all day long even. No joke.
    I gave one as a birthday present to a friend of mine and he didn’t seem to think I was weird. Just you know… to give you some perspective on that gift.
    🙂
    Try it !
    I can’t speak for the anthrax remedy though! That one *is* weird!

  13. Dorothy says:

    Um. I should lay off the smily faces. It makes me look like I’m 12. I hereby resolve to abstain from covering your blog in smiley faces.

  14. Donna says:

    Don’t have anything to say about this post, but I do want to say that when some publisher finally comes around and accepts your book, I’m buying a copy.

  15. Yasmin says:

    Well maybe I’m just extra emotional these days but this post really touched me. Thanks for the uplifting moment Rob.

  16. WT says:

    Keep the Cipro!

    Stable Molecule

    One medicine the FDA has endorsed for extensions is ciprofloxacin hydrochloride tablets, an antibiotic marketed by Bayer as Cipro. One batch had an expiration date of March 1989. More than 9 1/2 years later, the FDA found the tablets still good; it then extended some of them for 18 more months and others for 24 more months.

    Albert Poirier, quality-assurance director for Bayer’s pharmaceutical division, says he isn’t surprised because Cipro “is a stable drug molecule” in tablet form. “We go for a shelf life that will be safest for patients,” he says. “We want the drug to be used up within three years. We wouldn’t want a patient to have it for 10 years because they’d have an old package insert” that might omit new information or contra-indications and because “we’d have no control over how they’d store the drug during this time.”

  17. Amber says:

    I want to borrow your parents.

    Mine aren’t even strange, they’re barely even there. Yours love you. That’s so beautiful!

  18. Adam says:

    Ciprofloxacin inhibits DNA topoisomerase II and IV.

    I still remember that question from my 2nd year pharmacology final exam. I was taking it at the time to treat what I will refer to as “man-pain”. I walked up to a girl I know just outside of the exam room and said “Tell me something I don’t know.” She said, “Ciprofloxacin inhibits DNA topoisomerase II and IV”, and what do you know, it showed up on the exam.

  19. Katie D. says:

    Oh Dr. Rob, my mother sends me weird shit too. Last year, to prepare me for my second winter in Iowa (I used to live in Tennessee. That’s not real winter.) she sent me a catalogue which sold silkies (pants to be worn under real pants to keep you warm) and a whisk. My roommate informed me that my mom hated me. I know, though, that she just wanted my legs to be warm, and for me to be able to make warm, thick soups, without letting them stick to the bottom of the pot. Also, I know it’s been said, but that SAD thing is no joke. I wish I’d had one of those lamps my freshman year – I was so freakishly moody that my boyfriend at the time (an engineer) considered building me one.

    And from one wannabe writer to another – you’ll get the book published. It’s a shitty time in the publishing world and the economy in general, so it’s tough, but it’ll happen. I’m sure whatever you’re writing is something that people should be reading.

  20. Kunal says:

    I stumbled on to this and am totally convinced to buy a copy of the book once you get it out there. This story, however weird it may be, kind of applies to everyone. It made me realize that I should try to be more considerate of my parents and their eccentricities, and if you are able to bring about realizations like that in 18 year olds, I’m sure you will get published soon. Best of luck!

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  24. Seviah says:

    My mother was deeply idiosyncratic, hopelessly obnoxious, hilarious, and harshly critical, she loved me unconditionally. I only now am recovering from the loss of that one bedrock certainty. And she was a killer date.

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