My Dad is great. Really. I love him very much. But he is … different. Nowadays, he’d be classified as Asperger’s syndrome or as a high functioning autistic, because he is as brilliant, but has the social and practical life skills of a wombat on crack. He’s a physician, and he pulls miracles out of his ass routinely. Since he was a resident, other docs in the ER would have him “take a look” at the strange things, and Dad would nail it. He’s like the lead character on House, but instead of being a genius, socially inept, asshat, my Dad is a genius, socially inept, dork.
This is a man who is so smart you can actually see his brain throb, who saves lives with relative ease, but if you let him drive the store, the parking lot defeats him. He will drive around, uncertain of where to park, waiting for my mom to pick the spot. He is a man who can perform delicate surgeries, but cannot put together a sandwich.
Then there is the social thing. Dear God, how there is the social thing.
Now, I am not the best person at a formal social gathering myself. Informal? I’m your girl. But I have no innate sense of what NOT to say at “classy” events. I am beyond gauche; I go right up into “mentally deficient”. But compared to my Dad, I am smoother than glass.
My mom is much more of a social creature than Dad, but she also has a nasty habit of speaking her mind on any topic no matter the setting. She is usually speaking the truth, yet that doesn’t comfort anyone. It just adds to the shell-shock.
For example, I took my parents to meet my priest, Rev. Gerri, before my wedding. I wanted to make sure they weren’t going to faint at the sight a female priest, and I thought it would a chance for them to get any questions about the ceremony answered. I had converted to Episcopalian, and as life-long Baptists my parents had never seen an Episcopalian service.
So there we were, standing in an otherwise empty church on Friday morning, looking at the alter and talking to Gerri about flower placements. That’s when it happened. My Dad just reached over and started casually feeling my mom’s ass. My Mom, elegance personified that she is, slapped his hand away and said, “Stop it, you big pervert.” Then she leans in a little toward Gerri and says, confidentially, “You’ll have to excuse him. Churches turn him on.” Ever-unflappable, Gerri makes a polite response, like “I see,” or something. I couldn’t hear real well because I was busy planning on how to crash through a stain glass window and escape. Then, the icing on the cake, mom chirps in a perky little voice, “I’m thinking about getting a pew for the bedroom.”
I seriously contemplated trying to drown myself in the baptismal font.