The Beautiful Ugly
Posted on September 13, 2012
I’m staring at the clock on our kitchen wall. It’s an ugly clock. I think it has some sort of meant-to-be-faded map in the middle of it. It has brown edging and gold numbers with a clear, see through, backing to the numbers. Yep, it’s feckin’ ugly.
I bought that ugly clock. Yep, paid actual money for it. I just wanted a normal clock. A regular solid colored, round, wall clock, so I could know what the hell time it is. But, alas, at the megastore where I bought it there were only these fancy-shmancy ones. I stared at the clocks in the aisle for a super long time before I decided on this one. I really ruminated over it, mainly, because I knew if I picked the wrong one Wifesy was gonna hate it. I was right on that one because Wifesy does hate this feckin’ clock. She claims you can’t see the time on it because the gold numbers sort of blend into the faux wood edging and then, of course, there’s no backing to the numbers. She’s right. You can’t tell time on the damn thing. We meant to take it back, as Wifesy and I are very good at returning things. But, in the hurricane of everyday life the receipt was lost. So, now we’re stuck with it.
I have this sensation a lot. It’s the idea that I want this particular thing, but I need to have it now or there’s only one store I can go to or I’m on a budget and so I buy something in a panic. The purchase always ends up being something that is not quite right.
Even as a kid, this happened. I wanted a 12 speed bike – something sleek and aerodynamic looking with one of those mini bike seats that only an anorexic could sit on without any pain. Instead, my parents got me a 3 speed bike with a wide-assed seat. The seat was so wide it felt like something a grandmother would request at a restaurant. “And give me an extra-wide seat, Sir, okay? I’ve got the hemorrhoids.”
The bike just wasn’t cool and I was looking for a cool bike, so it sat in the shed and I barely rode it. I never said anything to my parents about it because I didn’t want to seem ungrateful. In a sense, I always felt ungrateful when it came to them. You see, we had food and shelter and a pretty solid, stable upbringing, so what was my problem?
I think part of it was that my mom is the QUEEN of irregular. If it’s irregular or odd, she buys it. If I wanted a pair of designer jeans – say some Sassons, I ended up with Lassons or something equally embarrassing. It didn’t help that mom eventually went to work as a volunteer at a thrift store. She loved the job so much that she even went on to become the manager. For years, all we ever received was thrift store clothing as gifts. It got to the point where my brother and I would smell everything right after we opened it. It became a running joke in the house. “Sniff test, bro. Is it from the stoooooore?” I’d ask. He’d sniff and then we’d fall over laughing.
My mother was even a recycler of medicine. I would get a stye in my eye or something equally teenager-ish and my mom would say, “Your dad had one of those. Go and get his medication out of the cabinet.” I would search around finally coming up with a small tube. I looked across the label to make sure it was for styes. That’s when I would inevitably see it – the expiration date.
“Mom, this medication is really old,” I would yell.
“It’s perfectly fine. Just use it,” she would say.
“But, the label says 1972.”
“So?!!” she’d yell back.
“Well, it’s 1992.”
“Oh, it’s fine. Don’t be ridiculous, just use it.”
My brother and I have very similar memories of this sort of thing. There was a time where we all suffered from bad allergies in the house and mom’s constant refrain was, “Take a seldane.” It was literally her cure-all. I mean she said it constantly. You had an itch – take a seldane. A cough – take a seldane. Depression – a seldane. It was nuts.
Years later, my brother and I heard a news broadcast that seldane was taken off the market because it was linked to heart attacks. “You see! All that time she was trying to kill us!” I cried between fits of howling.
The comedy was black in our house. The darker, the better a lot of the time. I suppose that comes from wearing slightly irregular, thrift store clothing, while riding a wide-assed bicycle seat all through town during an age when all you want to be is cool.
It wasn’t only clothes and old medicine either. My mother would commonly use things for purposes outside of what they were originally intended for.
Recently, my brother and I were with mom for her 70th birthday. We were all talking about juicing and my mother said, “Oh, I’m definitely going to juice when I get home. I want to get off this vacation weight.”
I said, “Okay, but you need a real juicer not a blender…”
“Or a sledgehammer like Gallagher,” my brother chimed in.
“And you can’t just run over fruit with the car and collect the juice in a pan,” I smiled.
“No, no, come on. I have a juicer somewhere in the attic,” said mom.
“Yeah right,” I said.
“No, really, I have a juicer.”
“It’s probably a food processor and she thinks it’s a juicer,” said my brother.
“Yeah and she’ll try to use it anyway,” I said.
My brother and I started laughing and then I did my best mom impression. “What? What’s wrong with using this food processor as a juicer it works perfectly fine!”
“And if it doesn’t work and I feel bad about it I’ll just take a seldane,” said my brother.
“Oh, yes, a seldane. Even though they’ve been off the market since 2000,” I added.
“Oh, there’s nothing wrong with them. They’re perfectly fine,” said my brother laughing.
I’ve been back to that megastore recently where I bought the sh*tty clock. They have regular ones there now. Just straight up, round clocks, in different colors that tell the time. But, for some reason…I think I’m going to keep the ugly one.
Important CANADICA note: There is a HUGE game going on over at Canadica today and if you’re American (and non-American) you’re invited to play. If you’re Canadian, you’re invited to laugh. Either way, everyone wins. Go over, after you read this. I’m going to!
Sweet Mother is updated daily-ish. If you’d like to receive an email when new content is published, simply hit the “follow” link at the top of the page.
You might also like: