Life is an epiphany

jim-suzy-marie.jpgOnce when I was twelve or so, my sisters and I bought my mother a birthday present. We found it at Spencer’s, a store full of black lights and glow-in-the-dark posters, lava lamps, hanging beads. To our young minds Spencer’s held every groovy thing the 70s had to offer and we could not wait to present our gift to Mom.

I remember with crystal clarity the look on her face when she opened the box. The sidelong glance that she gave my father, who turned away at that moment, the apparent victim of a coughing fit. I knew there was something that I didn’t understand and I thought about it for a long time after.

I remember another adult joke from my wonder years. People would see my siblings and me with our parents and would exclaim various things about us. Suzy’s red hair and fair complexion! Jim’s bright blue eyes and olive skin! My blond curls and, well, just that usually. They would follow up these spirited observations with the same question, “Are they all YOURS?” To which my dad would reply, while pointing at us, “The postman, the milkman…” My bubushka-clad mom would then hit him on the arm with her leather gloves and say “Milty!” which was his name. Everyone would laugh and we would continue on our way.

I never understood why my father pointed at me and said “the milkman” so often. What did that even mean? What was a milkman? Shouldn’t I be a milkgirl?

Yesterday my brother sent me some old family photos that he had digitized. And I finally understood.

By the way, the gift for Mother was an adorable grinning egg in a nest. The sign underneath said “You’d smile too if you’d just been laid!”

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