If there’s one thing more upsetting than watching your parents get older, it’s doing what you swore you’d never do and watching yourself become like them.
Nobody would confuse me with either of my parents politically, that rebellion still holds, but there are subtle things I picked up in the 19-plus years I lived at home.
From my father, I’ve inherited a handful of physical traits — a hawk nose, body hair, an awkward bone structure not quite suited to sports, and a tendency to snore. But while I can’t change the genes I was handed down, and will hand down to my children with my sincerest apologies, there are some less tangible traits that I’ve inherited that are starting to emerge as I get older.
Like the ability to wear anything at anytime, and not really care what I look like. My dad was never one for observing fashion, and could wear absolutely anything without an ounce of self-consciousness. Once I went to borrow a tie for a school semi-formal, and couldn’t find a single one out of the dozens in his collection that didn’t offend the eye. I wore a cattle skull string tie to that event, and all through high school and university.
I don’t know if my dad had a sense of humour about his clothes like I do — I just don’t think he cared either way.
Another trait I’ve inherited is do-it-yourselfism, which means that I’ll never pay anyone to do anything when there’s an outside chance I can to do it myself (when I get around to it). Like my dad, I don’t even see the need to have the right tools for the job necessarily, and get by with what I have. If that means using a butterknife to turn a screw, or using two butterknives wedged together to tighten a bolt, then so be it.
I’ve also picked up my father’s penchant for bleeding, unaware that I am bleeding, while doing home improvement projects. My dad could bury a chisel in his knee and not notice until he rubbed the bloody fabric of his pantleg against the white wall he just stuccoed.
In the same vein, I’ve also picked up his lack of head awareness. It’s as if he had no idea his head even existed above his eyeballs, and he rang his skull off every cupboard door and piece of furniture in the house. Now I find myself doing the same thing, with the goose eggs to prove it. And I can’t tell you how many times I’ve hit myself on the top of the head with the bike rack while closing the hatchback of our car.