My Mascot Is A Pushmi Pullyu

Remember Dr Doolittle??

I barely do, if I’m honest. I’m a little surprised about that, because it seems like it should have been the kind of movie we would have watched a million times in my family, but we didn’t. In any event, I was reflecting today on myself and my life and my expression of myself within my life and the picture that came up for me was the Pushmi Pullyu from Dr Doolittle. (The real one, mind you. With Rex Harrison. It’s important that we be clear about that. Rex. Harrison.) 

Apparently I am a rabid Rex Harrison fan. The reasons for this are twofold. Good news – both reasons are undeniably nonsensical. As you’d expect.

First, when I was a child, I thought the song ‘Someone Left the Cake Out In the Rain’ was sung by Rex Harrison. That song was ridiculous, which made me love it. It is still ridiculous, presumably why I still love it. I now know, being older, wiser and a semi-efficient user of the iTunes, that the ridiculous song in question was not, in fact, sung by Rex Harrison. ‘Someone Left the Cake Out in the Rain’ isn’t even the title. It’s MacArthur Park. (What a dumb title. No wonder Rex didn’t want to sing it.) It was released by Richard Harris, who, unbeknownst to my child self, is a different person altogether. Still, in my tiny mind, Richard Harris was Rex Harrison, so Rex Harrison is credited with the requisite bonus points. (I never said my system was fair.)

Second, when I was a child, we had the soundtrack to My Fair Lady on vinyl. We had lots of things on vinyl. We didn’t know it was special to have things on vinyl because, well, it wasn’t. Everybody had everything on vinyl because that’s what there was. Except for in the car. In the car – the station wagon!! Rear-facing seat? Yeah, we had that – we still had an 8-track player. Sweet Baby Jesus. Jim Croce singalong facing backwards in the car?? Don’t mind if I do. (For all I thought I was missing out on at the time {my mom wouldn’t let us watch Thundercats!! 😦 }, I’m pretty sure now I had the best childhood ever.) Anyway, we lived in a “No Swear Zone.” I mean it. ZERO SWEARING – EVER. We watched The Princess Bride taped off tv instead of bought at the store because they edited out the swear. (“I want my father back… STAB,” as opposed to “I want my father back, you sonofabitch!! STAB” even though the latter is tremendously more gratifying, obviously.) Such were the ways of my mother. (I’m pretty sure my dad was secretly saying “dammit” behind everyone’s back the entire time. Risky.) The point here is that the My Fair Lady soundtrack, as you know, contains the delightful song, “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face”. (If for any reason you are not familiar with the My Fair Lady Soundtrack, you have some work to do. This is important. Get to it.) The beginning of the song on the soundtrack was Rex Harrison shouting, “Damn, damn, damn, damn, damn!!”

Rex Harrison swore at my mom, and she let him!!!! 

So, yeah. He was pretty much the hero of my childhood.

 

My ability to pursue wildly irrelevant topics is unrivaled. I read other people’s blogs and can’t help but notice that they generally make sense, and all of the sense they make tends to be centered on a single topic. I wonder how they do it???

 

This post is supposed to be about my parents. I did mention them in the Rex Harrison bit, if you’ll recall, so hopefully that counts as a relatively efficient segue.

They are polar opposites, my parents. I feel like whoever coined the phrase “opposites attract” might have been misquoted, or at least cut off mid-sentence. Before he could finish with “and subsequently spend life making each other insane.”

I’ve wondered a few times about being parented by opposites. Theoretically, it could be awesome. I should have all the qualities, you know? My dad’s strong suits plus my mom’s strong suits equal me. Hooray! Except my mom’s weak spots plus my dad’s weak spots also equal me. Boo! The older I get, the more I see both of my parents in myself. It’s entertaining and maddening in equal proportions.

My dad is a workhorse. I think that’s fantastic. Work, work, work and then more work. And then watch tv and tune out anyone who speaks to you, but then go back to work. And when it is time to work, you work until all the work is done. Grrrrr! My father is a beast. He used to do concrete flatwork alone. Do you have any concept of how difficult that is?? My dad is crazy with the work ethic. Work ethic / lunacy, sometimes it’s a fine line.

Mom is a more creative type, not to be hemmed in by the “normal” way of doing things. I think this is magnificent. Lots of ideas, lots of feelings, lots of speculating about the best way to do things, lots of gear shifting, project switching, life overhauling. Work, for sure, but probably only for a minute on this thing, then move to the next thing, then let’s “do laundry and clean the house,” which is code for “Hey, everybody, we’re gonna watch Anne of Green Gables, again!” and just loop that cycle for a while until ‘hey, this isn’t working. Let’s get a new house.’

My dad is jump in and DO. My mom is step back and THINK. My dad is let it roll off. My mom is let’s get to the bottom of this. My dad is ‘Quit spoiling the kids. They’re gonna grow up to be assholes!’ My mom is, ‘Lighten up, they’re just kids… And so help me, if I ever hear you say “assholes” again, I’ll tear you a new one!’ Dad – Work hard. Figure it out later. Mom – Figure it out. Work hard later. Dad – Who cares what’s going on? Let’s just laugh and nod along until it’s time to go home. Mom – I need to know exactly what is going on, at which time I will tell you exactly how I feel about what is going on. Dad – Let’s be normal. Mom – Let’s be authentic. Dad – Angry and happy are the only feelings. Mom – ALL the feelings ALL the time.

This is the petri dish from which I was formed.

Was there ever any hope?

The trouble with opposites such as my parents were is that they didn’t actually like each other. It’s not just that they were opposite, it’s that they really, actively disapproved of the balancing/opposing behavior in the other and effectively raised us with fairly strong prejudices against each of the corresponding halves of ourselves.

And (finally…) we come to the theme… (well, title, anyway. I’m not sure I ever really have a theme…) Emotionally, I am a two-headed llama.

Pushmi -I should jump in and contribute!!! Pullyu – NO!!! That would definitely be arrogant and presumptuous! I should stand back and wait to be invited to contribute. Pushmi – NO!!! That is lazy!!

Pushmi – I should just get to work and the thing will sort itself out as I go along. Pullyu -What are you, stupid??? You need to analyze the whole thing first, figure out the best way to proceed, and  then and only then should you actually act. Pushmi – NO!!! What good are you if you just sit around thinking forever? Get up and DO something!

Pushmi – I should just do something easy so that I can enjoy the social situation. Pullyu – WRONG!!! I have a moral obligation to completely overextend myself and be a wreck over it. Pushmi – Nope. You’re insane. Just pick up some brownies at the store and call it good. Pullyu – Why isn’t anyone helping me do all this stuff I didn’t even need to do!?!?!?!

Pushmi – I should watch football! Pullyu – NO! I should watch a motion picture production packed full of feelings! Authentic Self – Okay! I’ll watch Remember the Titans. (At least one of my internal conflicts can be easily solved.)

Pushmi Pullyu.

Or we could change my name to Alice#2 from the “I, Mudd” episode of Star Trek the original series, the one to whom Spock says “Everything I say is a lie,” and then she goes back and forth in her own programming until her head explodes. Except that in the course of my fact-checking, I find that I have remembered this episode completely wrong and it’s actually Captain Kirk and some other guy who pose the liar’s paradox to a dude robot in a bad leotard, and I have no desire to compare myself to a dude robot in a bad leotard, so let’s just forget I mentioned it.

The good news is, I’m not just a half-mom half-dad hybrid. I’m me. I’ve been oddly conditioned in my life, but who hasn’t? (If you haven’t, please refrain from comment. I’d like to go on pretending the struggle is real…) And frankly, in a world that contains so many truly frightening beasts (I’m not going to name any names in case some of you are planning to vote for them…), 😉 a Pushmi Pullyu isn’t the worst thing to be.

 

 

 

 

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