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Elizabeth Jayne Liu

Sorry If I Embarrass You, Kid

I’m writing with one eye closed. This usually only happens after I lose one contact lens, and I shut the gimp eye to see half-decently with the good eye. High rollers might bust out a brand-new lens, but I can’t. It throws off the balance. What good is having three contacts for the right eye and only two for the left? Then I would be forced to order more. Since I’m so damn cheap and try to make a year’s supply last 32 months, I just go about my day-to-day business with one eye closed until it’s time to replace both.

But that’s not the reason I have one eye closed today. I’m sick as hell, and my eyes burn. I think I have the Bubonic Plague. Or the swine flu. That’s what WebMD told me, and it’s never been wrong. Except for that one time I thought I had prostate cancer for about a month.

I’m pretty sure the passenger sitting next to me during my flight back from Paris gave me this debilitating and possibly deadly illness. I don’t know how I managed it, but I ended up in Business Class. It felt right to me at the time because I’ve always imagined it’s the well-mannered, upstanding, gentile members of society who sit in that section. You know, people like me.

I did my best not to make eye contact with anyone or open my mouth because that’s always how trouble gets started. Since my family was doing their best not to know me, I turned my attention to the copious amount of warm rolls I asked the flight attendant to bring me.

I wasn’t really in the mood for rolls, but thankfully, I had a gently-used sandwich bag in my purse which I filled to the brim. Who am I to say no to free rolls?

The lady next to me coughed throughout the whole flight, but she was good about covering her mouth with the crook of her elbow and turning away. Until she went to sleep. I was making another deposit in the Warm Roll Bank (sometimes, I like to name my sandwich bags) when she started coughing again. Not wanting her germs to land on my hard-won doughy goodness, I leaned in to cover the opening of The Bank with my torso, putting me in direct path of her deadly germs.

My daughter, Cal, pretended not to notice for the first three or four hours, but finally she made a plea, “Stop with the rolls, mom. PLEASE.” Naturally, I replied, “Are you going to eat yours? I have room for one more.”

When she turned away in disgust, I noticed the knot in her hair. Luckily, I had the comb I swiped from our hotel room in Germany handy in my purse, along with a few free lemon-scented hand wipes taken from a seafood restaurant in San Francisco last fall.

Because of the new TSA regulations, I had to check in all of my other souvenirs: Individual packets of condiments, miniature bottles of hotel bath products, only-thrice-worn hotel slippers, shower caps, hotel stationary, and travel brochures. With each new item, I heard endless nagging from Cal. I don’t know what she said exactly, because I’m good at tuning things out, but I think she used words like “embarrassing” and “criminal.” The next time someone has a craving for an individual serving of Nutella, guess who’s not going to share?

Just playing. I’ll share. And I’ll do my best to stop embarrassing my kid. Because I want to be in a FANCY nursing home when I’m old.

Did your parents ever embarrass you? Do you embarrass your own kids?

 

[Find Elizabeth on her blog, Flourish in Progress]

THE AUTHOR

Elizabeth Jayne Liu blogs at Flourish in Progress, which she started on her 30th birthday to chronicle a yearlong shopping ban. Surprisingly, she survived her project, and now chronicles a series of small weekly challenges called "Monday Dares." She fails a lot. Elizabeth lives in Los Angeles with her husband, who she married after dating for eighteen days, ...

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