A consequence of meeting someone and then marrying them while being five months pregnant with their child, all in under a year, is that for a long while after all that excitement, you’re still getting to know your life partner. There are times when I’ll say “My friend Algernon* got married” and Tex will say “Algernon? You’ve never mentioned an Algernon” even though Algernon was my best friend in fifth through eighth grade. Then, I’ll tell him all about who I was when the world wore necklaces made of Bonnebelland braces.
So when a dresser full of papers from my childhood bedroom arrived, Tex stopped me before I could recycle the lot. “Wait” he said “we need to go through this together. This is a gold mine.” Waving a page around gleefully he said “Look there’s even your school project on manatees!”
I did do a project on manatees, but the paper he was waving around wasn’t it. I’m a heartless purger of memorabilia of any kind so that particular project had hit the blue bin two decades ago. In fact before Tex declared an amnesty for my childhood papers, I had already peeled the photographs from the pages because I know the city doesn’t take them with newspapers.
Fast forward to Tex and I sitting together, going through all of my junk. Once again, Tex grabbed for the papers about the manatees. “Who is Deep Dent?” Tex asked as he read over the paper congratulating me on my contribution to a manatee sanctuary. “He’s my manatee.” I answered, “For my birthdays I would ask for people to adopt manatees for me because I’ve always been an environment loving, dirty hippie”.
“Cool” Tex responded with his signature buoyant enthusiasm. “What do you know about these manatees?”
“I don’t know,” I replied offhandedly, “Here are their biographies, I didn’t read them.”
Tex reached for the pages of information about Deep Dent and the two other manatees I had adopted. “Neat. Are there pictures?”
“I took them out already, I was going to put them in the trash.”
Tex stopped rifling through the pages to look at me. “Do you mean to say that you don’t know anything about these manatees that you’ve adopted and you don’t have pictures of them? You’re a deadbeat manatee parent.” He glanced down at Amanda the manatee’s biography. “Did you at least visit them?”
“No, but my grandparents did” I said sheepishly.
“Your grandparents?!” Tex exploded at me “You really are a deadbeat manatee parent.”
So there you have it world. My mother is an excellent grandmother and a good step-parent even if she doesn’t want to be acknowledged in either of those roles, whereas I mindlessly adopt manatees and forget about them. Give me forty lashes or chain me to the stocks, or whatever it is that’s done to deadbeats.
*I didn’t actually have a friend named Algernon. Mostly because when I was younger I didn’t have friends. Not because I was unpopular, I was just unpleasant. But these types of omissions of information happen with Tex and I all the time. Probably because during the first year we were together, a little under half of it was consumed with prenatal activities and discussions. And by prenatal activities I mean vomiting. And by discussions I mean this conversation:
“Are you going to puke?”
“That looks like your puke face.”
“I’m pulling over to the side of the road now.”
Kids, the lesson here is to bang hot cowboys and get to know them later. It’s a tried and true recipe for life success, as evidenced by me, the deadbeat manatee parent. Now if you’ll excuse me, I just realized I forgot about the possum that I brought home last week and put in the porch.