When you’re in the dog house, you are in trouble. You’ve done something bad. As a child, I was never in the dog house because we didn’t have one. We didn’t even have a dog.
My mother had her own strain of weird expressions that she said to us kids on a regular basis, probably me the most because I was the first one of five children to cause trouble, even though I am second-born.
“Your name is mud!”
“If that’s what you think, you’ve got another think coming!”
“Hold your horses!”
“If all your friends jumped off a cliff, would you do it, too?”
And the most accurate observation she made and quoted often:
“Life isn’t fair.”
To her credit, Mom never said, “Stop your crying, or I’ll give you something to cry about!”
Ah, the 50’s and 60’s, when kids stuffed down their emotions so as not to bother their parents. Maybe that’s why the Boomers grew up to be the polar opposite, those that coddled their children, gave them trophies for showing up, and parented helicopter style.
Another comment that cut to the quick was when my mom said in her most sarcastic voice, “Well, aren’t you just Little Miss social butterfly!” as though it was a bad thing to get invited to parties.
As long as I’m venting here, I remember with full photographic memory the Saturday Mom took me to the Merle Haye shopping center because all my pants were too short. I was in 8th grade and had just shot up to five feet, ten inches tall. My best friend’s little brother would say to me when I showed up at Joan’s door, “Flood coming?”
“Flood coming? You’re pants are so short!”
My burgundy corduroys were not supposed to be capri pants, were not in style in 1968, and were not warm against the cold November winds.
I had every intention of going home from the shopping center that day with a pair of blue jean bell bottoms (malls hadn’t been invented yet). My mother had every intention of getting the most product for the least amount of money. We were a lower-middle-class family, at best.
The blue jean bell bottom pants with the herringbone weave fit me like a glove. They were even long enough. I was in love! Finally I would dress like the other girls in 8th grade, not like an overgrown sixth grader in my old clothes.
“They are too expensive,” Mom said. “How about these floral pants? You could get two pairs for the same price.”
The floral pants were hideous, something my grandmothers would have worn with pride (and matching earrings).
I dug in my heels. I wanted those herringbone denim bell bottoms.
My mother ranted. She argued. I stood my ground. I wanted what I wanted. She grabbed them out of my hands and bought them. I could tell she was angry by the way she talked to the check-out girl and how she slammed the car door.
“If you want pricey clothes like this you are going to have to buy them yourself from now on!” Mom said.
“Okay,” I said, deciding to ramp up my babysitting gigs.
When we got home, my mother swore to my dad, something to him about “your damned daughter.”
I took my pants and ran upstairs to the bedroom that I shared with my little sister. I’d never heard my mom swear before.
I was in the dog house for the first time for not accepting the double-Dahlia-pants offer and insisting on the in-style bell-bottomed blue jeans.
Couldda Wouldda Didda
My social status went up five points on the day I wore those ankle-covering, butt-hugging jeans to junior high school.
That day at the shopping center with my mom was the beginning of my independence from my parents’ control.