Friday, December 11, 2015

Soap Opera Parents

True story - Kate and I have become soap opera parents.
Audrey turned 20 yesterday which triggered some pretty eye-opening realities for KT and I. First, we realized that we are officially no longer the parents of teenagers (gulp). Second, we realized that Audrey is now the same age as we were when Al was born (double gulp). Finally, and most shocking, we realized that we have become "soap opera parents". Let me explain.
KT and I have always gotten a kick out of "soap opera kids". These are the kids that are seen infrequently and ever so briefly on soap operas. One of the main characters has gotten pregnant and so, as nature inevitably dictates, must have a child. This makes for a juicy plot line (who's the father? but her doctor told her getting pregnant was impossible!, etc.) and keeps audiences riveted for a good nine months (or the equivalent in TV time). After a huge buildup, the baby is finally born on a "very special" episode. It's an emotional and exciting conclusion to the pregnancy plot. After the baby is born, however, the baby needs to go away. Because, as it turns out, babies are boring. The writers can't ignore the fact that a baby was born - after all, millions of people witnessed the miraculous birth - but nobody wants to watch a little tub of goo spit up on itself and shit it's pants. So, they become "soap opera kids". A scene will open with the new parent or parents gently cooing over their new arrival. Once the baby has been acknowledged, someone will quickly and unceremoniously swoop in, grab the kid and exit stage left to allow the adults to get into the juicy stuff without a screaming brat interfering. The "soap opera kids" have made their appearance and now will disappear for several episodes before making another brief appearance to assure us they still exist.
KT and I became "soap opera parents" on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. We were attending a Gopher football game that afternoon, as was Audrey. We weren't sitting together, as Audrey was going with a big group of friends, but she was nice enough to invite us to stop by her place near campus for a little pre-game (translation: alcohol) if we were interested as she and her roommates were having a tailgating party. It sounded like a good plan as I am far too cheap to pay for parking so we normally park near her place for games anyways and trek the mile or so to the stadium. It was a casual invite (or so we thought) with no real time restrictions (or so we thought) and so KT and I were in no rush to head out into the cold (or so we thought). A flurry of text messages from Audrey quickly changed everything.
12:40 - "what's ur plan?"
- (me) "Probably park at your place and walk to the game"
- "what time?"
12:49 - "you guys have to come shotgun a PBR"
12:55 - "Get over here!!! The Swansons (Audrey's roommates' parents) will shotgun with you!"
12:59 - "The Swansons are coming so giiiiitt here!"
1:10 - "Jimbo (a Swanson) is here!!!"
1:12 - "Stop ignoring me"
1:13 - "He's playing Flip Cup!!!"
- (me) "We are getting ready!"
1:14 - "ETA?"
1:15 - "You guys are terrible friends"
Our "casual" invitation had become not so casual in a head-spinning 35 minutes. KT and I were rushed, but admittedly a little excited. Be the cool parents at a college party? Hell, yeah! We can do this! I hadn't shotgunned a beer in years, but I used to "open the throat" and pour down beers as a party trick and I'm sure I still can because it's like riding a bike, right? And KT has the innate gift of tip-toeing the line between hilarious and inappropriate without ever crossing it or at least without going too far over it. We. Are. Awesome! Our presence is not just requested, but demanded! We quickly threw on our Gopher gear (sidebar and probably the subject of another true story: KT and I have very different definitions of "Gopher gear". For me, it was several layers of Maroon and Gold t-shirts, sweatshirts, pants, hats, and even socks. For KT, it was a giant fur coat and a hat that looks like a strawberry) and headed out the door. It was time to get our party on and show these college kids how it's done.
We arrived at Audrey's to a party in full swing. It was a little intimidating as good golly these kids were young and doing shots and slamming beers and singing and laughing and being alive and I had just slightly injured my back bending over to tie my shoe. We were bound and determined to be the life of the party, however (it was expected - no, demanded - of us!) so we found Audrey across the crowded room and said hello. Audrey quickly ran over to us with a couple of people, said "Hi, this is (I don't remember his name) and this is (I couldn't hear what she said)" She then turned around, grabbed two beers out of the fridge, shoved them in our hands and said, "OK, you guys should probably be going now." She guided us to the door, shooed us out and returned to her party. KT and I stood in stunned silence for a bit, looking in the window at the party raging inside. Then it hit us: we were "soap opera parents". We made our appearance for the sake of plot continuity and were quickly ushered away so the young beautiful people could return their focus to one another without the depressing reminder that age happens.
KT and I weren't insulted. We were happy to have been invited in the first place. We reminded ourselves how many of our college parties we had invited our parents to (somewhere between zero and none) and realized that Audrey was probably actually saving us from seeing things we didn't want to see. The only problem was we now had quite a bit of time to kill before kick off and only one beer to get us there. KT decided that her fur coat made her look remarkably Gopher-like and we should pass the time by taking a video of her pretending to be a Gopher scurrying from bush to bush outside the stadium. I agreed to film her as I knew saying no was fruitless. It was at this point I showed my true age by somehow managing to take a burst of 94 still photos rather than an actual moving video. I really can't blame Audrey for showing us the door.

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