Soon after my parents moved to Atlanta, we began the task of finding doctors and setting up appointments for them to become acquainted. We had a lot of good luck when it came to selecting a cardiologist, foot doctor, dermatologist and orthopedist. Selecting an internist took a little more effort.
As long as I've been alive I have been aware of the importance my mother puts on peoples' looks. I was raised to believe that if I am not pretty, I am not worthy to walk the earth. (I'm sure this explains a lot about me, but I digress.) Her opinion about anyone she has met or merely heard about, is put through the litmus test of "What do they look like?" or "They sure are funny-looking!" As I have gotten older, grayer and fatter, this attitude unhinges me at the least provocation. I would hate to be judged based on those things only! Years ago, I was telling her about the husband of a friend who had just returned from a medical missions trip to a third world country and what a great thing he had done. This man, a doctor, had left the comfort of home to do something for free to help the less fortunate and all she wants to know is if he is good looking. So when she asked me to find doctors for her and my dad, she chose them based on their online pictures, because if they are handsome, they must be really good doctors! Everybody else passed the test in person until her first appointment with...Dr. Baby Teeth. The man was quite handsome in his picture for the hospital staff. Thick white hair, tall, a slight tan, nice skin and yes, good looking. He swept into the examining room with an air of authority. Put out his hand to take my mother's hand...and smiled. I swear to God, he had the tiniest teeth I've ever seen on an adult. I knew instantly what my mom was thinking and purposely avoided eye contact with her. At the same time, I was thinking how ironic the situation had become since he had won the beauty contest for Miss Photogenic. Needless to say, she did not want to use him. We weren't out the door before she started talking about it. Dr. Baby Teeth. She still calls him that, three years later! Thankfully, I got the name of another internist and his teeth are normal.
Another eccentricity of my mom's is her ability to pick and choose where and when to abide by the laws of etiquette. Growing up my mom was a stickler for them. We did not live in the richest part of town in Bexley, Ohio, but we were expected to have a certain amount of decorum, especially at the dinner table. No original bottle or container was allowed. Ketchup was poured into a separate dish and served with a spoon. So was mustard, mayonnaise, crudites, butter and salad dressing. No bottles or cans of pop. No one was allowed to leave the table without asking permission. Talking was allowed, but food was to be swallowed first. And certainly no food allowed in the living room or bedroom unless one is sick. The family ate together in the dining room at the same time and absolutely no eating in front of the television! My mother called it "gracious living", so imagine my horror years later in seeing my mother, Miss Manners, take a half full cup of coffee and sling the contents under the table in a booth at a Bob Evans restaurant. Droplets slapped against my bare leg before I knew what she was doing. I looked down in time to see a dark stain on the carpet beneath my feet and quickly realized what she was doing. "Mom, I can't believe you just did that!" Now, this is the clincher. She looked at me like I was the crazy one and said with a full mouth of food, "What? I want a refill, it was cold." All I could do was sit there like a fish caught on a hook with its mouth agape as tiny food particles rained down on me like confetti from her full mouth. Until I finally got my breath and said out loud, "Well, so much for gracious living!" She just looked at me and said, "Oh! Phbbbt!" I was glad she had at least swallowed by that point!
Since moving here I don't think my parents have eaten more than 20 meals at the dining room table. They eat dinner at 4 PM not with us. They eat watching television... in the bedroom... in the bed. They eat crackers, chocolate, hot dogs with ketchup, spaghetti, tamales, you name it. There are permanent stains on their sheets and comforter that look like a food massacre took place in the bedroom. My father also likes to go to bed with pockets of candy and cookies, just in case he gets hungry while asleep. They get smashed and rubbed onto the sheets, as well. I have cleaned their bedroom carpet so many times with my "Little Green Machine" that the people who make the bottles of cleaner I use now live in mansions on Waikiki!