LS: Bruce Cameron Column September 28, 2008

Relaxing at my parents’ house

Recently, I decided to take a “vacation” and visit my parents, which is a little like trying to “relax” by going to a tax audit. My mother and father realize it’s too late in the game to make sure I was raised properly, but that doesn’t stop them from trying.

“You don’t get enough exercise,” my father bellows at me from his chair. I don’t think he’s gotten out of that
chair since the Denver Broncos won the Super Bowl. I’m pretty sure he takes the thing to bed with him.

“I think I’ll ‘exercise’ my freedom and take a nap,” I reply cleverly.

He scowls. “Is that supposed to be clever?”

My mother comes over to feel my forehead. “Are you sick?”

“No, I just thought I’d take a little nap.”

“I told you to wear a jacket last night,” she reminds me.

“I’m fine, Mom.”

“He just needs to exercise more,” my father insists.

“You’ll never be able to fall asleep this time of day,” my mother tells me.

“I’m pretty tired. From all the exercise I’ve been getting,” I say loudly. My father turns up the sound on the TV in retaliation. He’s watching The Weather Channel to make sure there have not been any radical changes in the meteorological condition of the country in the past 10 minutes, which is what he’s been doing on a consistent basis since I arrived three days ago.

“When you were a baby, I could never get you to nap,” my mother sighs.

“Well, how about I make up for that now?”

“You were chubby then, too,” she says.

“What?”

“It’s just that we’ve noticed you’ve put on a little weight,” she continues reasonably.

My father gives me a smug look, then turns back to concentrate on a storm system gathering strength in Missouri.

My mother points to a photograph. “See? You looked a lot better then.”

“Mom, that picture was taken when I was in high school. Of course I looked better then.”

“Why don’t you wash my car, if you’re running out of things to do?” my father wants to know.

“I’m not running out of things to do. I’m going to take a nap, and I’m not chubby.”

“I never said you were chubby,” my mother protests, taking advantage of the fact that the room lacks a court reporter.

“Hold off on doing the car, there’s a cold front in Wisconsin,” my father reports, giving the statement the urgency it deserves.

“Have you talked to a doctor about your depression?” my mother wants to know.

“My what?”

“It’s not a depression; it’s a cold front,” my father corrects.

“Taking frequent naps is a sign of depression,” my mother says primly. “And when you’re depressed, you eat,
then you gain weight, which makes you depressed, so you eat more. It’s a vicious cycle. Oh! Speaking of that, I made you some brownies — would you like one?”

“I think I’ll take a nap,” I say as if for the first time. “Give Dad a chance to practice his kick boxing.”

“Take your brother with you,” my mom says. I blink at her: The concept of sleeping in the same bed with my brother had never before occurred to me, not only because napping with another man sounds unappealing, but also because I don’t actually have a brother.

She’s speaking of her male Labrador, who regards me glumly from where he lies sprawled on the floor. He’s the chubby one in the family, but do they tell him to wash the car?

“Nicky, would you like to take a nap with your brother?” my mother croons at him. He groans, humiliated.

“I don’t care about the temperature in Paris,” my father grumbles, pointing the remote at the TV as a threat.

“There’s some pie in the refrigerator,” my mother chirps. It’s not clear whether she’s telling me or the dog.

Hoping to exploit the ambiguity, the dog lumbers to his feet and stares at her expectantly. With Pavlovian responsiveness, my mother reaches for a dog biscuit.

“Well, I’m pretty tired,” I announce to apparently no one.

“That’s nice,” my mom murmurs, petting her dog. “Maybe you should take a nap.”


To write Bruce Cameron, visit his Website at http://www.wbrucecameron.com.


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