It’s amazing how relaxed things are between me and my parents now that I’m married and have a baby. I used to really struggle with feeling misunderstood and invisible; but now, it’s not about my neurotic little problems anymore, it’s about us loving them and them loving their beautiful grandson and us. I’ve never had a real deep relationship with my mom, but just sitting on the couch next to her, playing with the baby, watching the Broncos beat the Raiders with my dad — just talking about nothing — I can’t remember being so comfortable doing that.
My brother Tim gave Jack a ticket to the aforementioned football game as a Christmas present. Jack said that everyone in the stadium sang the national anthem together, instead of having it be performed by some Top 40 singer trying to plug a new single. The way it’s supposed to be, he said: “It was like church.” Jack was also pleased to find that, after Tim had spent a good deal of time making Jack feel less than manly about being from California and not being able to deal with the cold, my brother eventually started shivering. They bet each other $5 every time the two teams meet, so I guess Jack was able to pay up in person this time. Whenever the Raiders lose to the Broncos Jack talks about paying Tim with five pounds of pennies or some other inconvenient way, but so far he hasn’t bothered.
Not to spoil the mood, but here’s the opposition’s response to all that good family feeling, by Philip Larkin.
This Be The Verse
They fuck you up, your mum and dad
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.
But they were fucked up in their turn
By fools in old-style hats and coats,
Who half the time were soppy-stern
And half at one another’s throats.
Man hands on misery to man.
It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
And don’t have any kids yourself.