Saturday, December 24, 2005

The feta flies

I was home for the holidays (I have to phrase it that way to be complicit in the "war on christmas"). My parents had just picked me up at the airport, we were sitting around the table catching up.

My parents are not, have never been, socially conservative. We were talking about the news- in fact, we had just discussed something we all found ridiculous. Then I brought up the then-recent ruling on "intelligent design"- how this religious, conservative judge slammed its proponents- and my mother starts going off on how he's wrong and how evolutionists don't understand anything.

My mother has never taken even the most basic biology, so she is full of misconceptions (as we all are about some things), but-- and this is a recurring theme with various people I know-- has no idea that she has no idea. So she starts going off on how there's no way a world this complex could have evolved, and am I saying that we evolved from an ameoba, and how mutations are usually negative so how can positive evolution happen...

At which point I couldn't take it and told her she didn't know what she was talking about. Which, while true, is never taken well, so it was my mistake. But beyond just not taking that statement well, which was her right, she loses her temper completely and starts screaming about how I'm the one who doesn't know what I'm talking about, etc.

My father and I both try to calm her down (this is a familiar routine, including the part where my mother starts screaming at my father to not butt in, that she was having a conversation with me, and my father says, I thought we were all having a conversation, and everything we say just makes her angrier). So it escalates and escalates. My mother gets so angry that she starts shaking and looks around, as if she’s looking for something. Apparently, she was looking for something to throw at my dad, because she finds a small piece of feta left on her plate and flings it at him.

***

My father can be pretty slow on the uptake, but he's also surprisingly insightful. He's put names on certain Mom behaviors-- such as how, whenever we leave to go somewhere, she decides she wants to water the plants then and there on the way out, and then she yells at everyone else about why we're late. He also recently coined "her Saturday morning fit"-- which is a generic version of what happened that day: everything's going fine, when all of the sudden my mother decides to pick a fight. That usually involves noticing that there's a dirty glass on the table and starting to yell about how she's always picking up after everyone. And it's not anything to take at face value (although I imagine she does do quite a bit of picking up) because it's stuff like "what's that [pointing at parsley]? why is that there? that's been there since yesterday" when it's been there for about five minutes, and I just took it out because I'm using it to cook. She does do it about every Saturday. It's getting old. And I'm learning to accept it and just roll my eyes, without arguing.

***

She hasn't let go of the evolution thing. From time to time, she'll rekindle the argument, including when I'm trying to sleep. She'll say, "how can we make you see that evolution is just not possible?"

I don't say anything. That seems to work, and we can move on, discuss other things.

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