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Tom and Twig

By Tom Ďoff-springí Waters
April 1, 2009

While my attitude and my mannerisms have been slowly taken over by my dad (a.k.a. íButch), a lot of my looks, emotions and hobbies have been transplanted directly from my mother (better known as íTwigí). After playing off constant comparisons that I take after my mother from a million different angles, Iím okay with it. We both have bad eyes, horrible teeth, an inherent laziness where housework is concerned, a procrastinating nature with daily newspapers and a lifetime love of reading. For the better part of my young life, she raised me, loved me, encouraged my interests and occasionally threw things at me. When I deserved it. This may come as a shock, but I was a pistol when I was a kid. Moving on, thenÖ

Twig has rotten teeth. Who knows if itís tooth care, lack of flossing or a bad hand from the gene pool, but sheís had fake teeth bolted into her head, fillings, caps, crowns, and any other sort of dental procedure you can fathom except for Washingtonís cherry-wood dentures. She goes to a lot of high-priced bed and breakfast dental practices in the suburbs that yell at her for not taking better care of her teeth while they charge my old man a kingís ransom to fix whatís wrong for that particular month out of the year.

My teeth are totally f-ed. Iím not sure if itís the entire 6 packs of bottled RC Cola I chugged down at friendís houses when I was a kid, lack of flossing, or a bad hand from the gene pool (see previous paragraph and judge for yourself), but Iíve had metal caps, crowns, enamels, root canals, and any other sort of dental procedure you can fathom save for super-gluing Chiclets on top of my gums. I go to a lot of dentists who arenít afraid to give me a double dose of Novocain because Iím a sissy in the dentistís chair and yell at me for not taking better care of my teeth while they charge me a slightly exorbitant price to fix what Iíve already put off for six months or more.

My mom drives like shit. Somehow she ran into a deer once when she had two tiny antenna stubs installed on the hood of her VW Rabbit to prevent just such an occasion. She wonít even drive anymore because sheís totaled more cars than the entire series run of the Dukes Of Hazzard. Sheíll make 47 rights to avoid making a left in busy traffic and talks to other drivers with her windows up to vent in addition to saying a litany of prayers for safe travel when riding as a passenger. Sheís very anxious in a car whether sheís driving or just along for the ride.

I either drive like a grandmother or pump the gas as if the hounds of Hades are on my tail depending on what time of day it is and how much of a hurry Iím in. Iíve been in multiple accidents because I canít work a standard clutch, I refuse to let blizzard conditions dictate my daily schedule, and I somehow managed to drive through a construction fence once. Iíve totaled enough cars to fill a successful collision and repair shop and my mechanic always smiles when I come in because he knows that heíll be able to buy another spoiler for his drag car. Iíll take 47 back roads to avoid tearing my hair out in stop and go traffic and I often swear, flip off, leer and give the thumbs up to anyone else in my way or anybody who pulls a dick move in front of me. When Iím riding shotgun, I blast my chauffeurís radio too loud, slap my thighs to the beat of the music, scream for takeout food when Iím drunk or tell people exactly why their driving sucks and how they can improve it in simple to understand, step by step instructions.

Twiggy packs up half of the house when my mom and dad go anywhere for any amount of time. She takes four wicker baskets full of magazines and expired newspapers, three wardrobes full of clothes and a crate of stationary with her on weekend trips and proceeds to ignore most of it. She likes to be prepared for any occasion by over packing so much crap with her that my dad needs to rent a trailer hitch to secure all of her transient belongings.

I have to hire a four hundred pound man to sit on my suitcase and tear my arm off at the socket carrying a battered valise when I go anywhere for any amount of time. I take a collapsible carton full of comic books, a compact disc library that most would consider exhaustive, and three to seventeen notebooks with me on weekend trips and proceed to ignore most of it. I like to keep myself entertained, I never know when it will rain outside, and I have no idea what mood Iíll be in when I look at my clothes on a given morning. My wife is lucky if thereís room in the car for a small plastic zip lock bag for her personal effects by the time Iím done loading the car up.

The Ďmother who birthed meí takes missed birthdays and anniversaries by any family member as personal insult, goes for long periods of time without talking to people if they upset her, and gets over-emotional about anything. She talks on the phone morning, noon and night to keep up on gossip and makes a point of making every one of her friends feel special. You rarely see her cry but when you do, you feel horrible about it, and when sheís pissed off, you better duck or fake your own death and relocate under witness protection, because sheíll go for the throat.

I take any breach in conventional etiquette as a personal insult, will go decades without talking to people if they break an agreed-upon set of mutual rules dictated by the friendship, and get over-emotional about everything. I talk on my home phone until the battery dies on my days off and then switch the cord over to the wall phone to continue getting caught up on gossip and make a point of being severely loyal to every one of my friends until they prove otherwise. I donít cry that much, but when I do, itís in private and whoeverís around feels horrible about it, and when Iím pissed off, I donít talk for a change, so you better book a flight to Bermuda and leave the country because Iíll go for the throat, lungs, larynx, and odds are that Iíll be holding your heart in my hand over your head when Iím done.

Twig is lazy when it comes to chores around the house that arenít of interest to her. Or chores around the house that are assigned to her. Actually, any chores of any kind. Sheíll procrastinate tidying up, leave piles of personal effects littering the staircase to the second floor, make a quick excuse for why the dishes didnít get unloaded (even though Butch washes them) and find a way to be conveniently absent when hard work is afoot. While sheís done the laundry for the household since I was a kid, it literally takes her all day to complete. When asked to do yard work, she will bitch about it for two days straight before devoting a half an hour to contributing to the general upkeep of my parentís homes. This all drives my dad insane, but he realizes that after 30 years of marriage she isnít going to change.

Iím pretty sloth-like when it comes to chores around the house that arenít of interest to me. Or chores that Lindsay assigns to me. Most chores that arenít of immediate important or relevant to my lifestyle. Iíll procrastinate taking out the garbage until the stack over the can hovers just under the ceiling, leave piles of books, magazines, photo albums and game controllers under the coffee table until a small avalanche occurs and buries one of our cats, make a quick excuse for why the sink is clogged with goatee stubble or why the cap was left off on the toothpaste resulting in a blue tattoo on our sink (which drives Lindsay insane to no end) and find a way to take a nap or leave the house when actual manual labor is afoot. While I am the assigned cook in the household, I take an entire day to prepare a nutritious dinner and the kitchen (which I walk away from) looks like a biblical plague burrowed through it when Iím done. As for yard work, in 33 years, I have never actually mowed a lawn. My in-laws talked me into raking at their summer cottage once and I bitched about it so much that I havenít been asked to do it since.

My mom and I both have our faults, but many of our character flaws are also the reasons why those closest to us love us so much. Weíre sensitive, passionate, emotional, intelligent and loyal. Twig and I may have a tendency to hog all the luggage room in the car, flip out on people when it doesnít seem appropriate, or run screaming from real work, but our friends and family have learned to deal with it and theyíve come to accept that thatís who we are. Twig has a phrase that weíve goofed on her about since we were kids. She throws her hands up in the air and says, ĎI canít DO it!í Like my mother, I throw my hands up in the air multiple times in a week and say ĎThatís NOT gonna happení or ĎGood luck with that.í when someone is trying to talk me into performing a task I couldnít care less about. I love my mom and Iím not embarrassed by our similarities now that Iím older. If you see either of us behind the wheel, though, run your car off the road or take a side street. Consider that a courtesy warning.