It’s Tuesday, Internet, which means that my column over at Toy With Me is up. Today, I’m talking about the possibility of friendship between men and women. It’s weirdly safe for work, yo.

Click the smiling beaver to be whisked away, or stick around for a rewritten blast from the mother-humping past:


The summer after Alex was born, I decided to sort through the Tupperware coffin of loose pictures in my parents basement and take the ones that I wanted. I was tired of not having any pictures of me as a baby around and imagined huge battles between my brother and I over who got to keep the picture of our stupid dog Silas.

So, I dug in one day, and gathered a bag up.

I had lofty goals, Internet, you see. I was going to:

a) sort the pictures chronologically

b) throw out repeats/crappy pictures and

niner) place them all neatly in a book or thirty.

I got to about age 6 in my life before I threw in the towel and shoved the whole lot into a far smaller Rubbermaid bin and shoved it into a corner. My father and grandfather took pictures the way I collect orchids: obsessively. I was, apparently, a favorite target.

Years later, it’s still sitting there, collecting dust and mocking me quietly.

I shudder when I think about having to sort through the amount of things that my in-laws have saved. To call my mother-in-law a pack rat would be a grave disservice to pack rats everywhere. She is a pack rat times approximately 6,879. I don’t pretend to understand, so I just smile and nod, which seems easier to all parties involved and wins me more Daughter-In-Law Of The Year* trophies.

So I go through our house about every 3-4 months and purge the fuck out of everything, while, of course, Dave and Ben are away so that they cannot protest when I get rid of their collection of ancient reciepts and old moldering socks. It’s great for my soul.

When Alex was born, I badgered my mother-in-law in the patented Becky-Drip-Drip Method, which I liken to being pecked to death by an overly large chicken, for baby pictures of The Daver. I love baby pictures of people that I know, and I was dying to see them.

Each and every time I was met with an excuse. Turns out that in the vast multitude of boxes, she has lost them somewhere. But during a visit, she’d brought up a handful that she’d had lying around and whipped them out to show me. Turns out that Alex looked very little like The Daver. Who knew?

Having recently given up on the task of placing my pictures in an album I pulled out a stack from my own babyhood to show her.

So we flipped on and on through the pictures of Baby Becky, while I commented on my fathers’ Iranian Taxi Driver glasses and his David Crosby mustache. She’d laugh uncomfortably, obviously trying to get away from me, but having nowhere to really go, she was stuck.

Eventually, it dawned on me that I was showing my EXTREMELY CONSERVATIVE mother-in-law naked pictures of daughter-in-law. As a dimpled baby. Occasionally being nursed. But nearly always naked.

Including the bear skin rug set.

“Heh, heh, heh,” I sputtered, trying to recover from the situation and perhaps mend the ever-widening chasm between us.

“What’s up with kids in the eighties? Heh-heh-heh.”

I couldn’t stop myself.

“It’s like they were never wearing clothes. Heh-heh-heh.” Trying to salvage the situation.

“WELL,” she replied, her irritation seeping though her tightly clipped words, “Maybe not in YOUR house.”

Great, I thought to myself, just fucking GREAT, barely suppressing the laughter. Now she thinks you come from a NAKED Family. I snickered into my cupped hand.

Oh well, I thought to myself as she got up in a huff and walked away, leaving me stranded on a couch, in a pool of naked baby pictures. That’s better than thinking you came from The Jello Mold Family.

*I am the only daughter-in-law. Therefore, I have to be the best.

85 thoughts on “damn hippies (etc)

  1. Honestly laughed out loud at that one, especially the clipped tones. Your poor mother-in-law! Having to welcome into the (clothed) bosom of her family your wanton nudity!

    I also am a purger. Because my mother makes pack rats look streamlined. And David’s mother too (a baby boomer thing, perhaps?) When we were in Scotland, desperate for baby pictures of David, I tackled the “photo drawer” in the sitting room, and organized the shit out of it. I stole all the best photos, put the obvious ones in order, and threw the rest of the randoms in a big box to go through next time. BIG PROJECT. But turns out Jack looks just like David. Cutie pie.

    1. Pretty sure I’m going to open the door the next time she comes over, butt naked. It’s going to be awesome. Except I won’t.

      Alex looks nothing like The Daver. But to hear everyone go on about it, you’d think they were the same person. It’s weird.

      Also, can I come with you to Scotland? I’m Scottish. I’m practically family, right? I promise I’ll stay clothed.

  2. I think naked photos would be preferable to the polyester 70’s drab colors that children of the Establishment wore. Everything is so brown and orange in my childhood photos. even outside.

    My boys though have tons of naked photos, or at least pantless photos because Mommy was Lazy & decided there was no need to pants on the kids when she’d just have to take them off for a diaper change in an hour anyway.

    Something my future DILs will hold against me no doubt.

  3. I do come from a naked family. When we get together and look at pictures, quite often the whole family are naked. Also not always easy to deal with.

  4. My mom’s a packrat so I’m a purger- When I came across a box of pics like that I took them to a local photo shop and asked how much to scan the whole box and give me a disk. It came out to about $100.

    When I told my mom we had copies and backup now so she could throw away the pictures, it panicked her so much she put them in albums.

  5. I move to my new life in England in three days, so I have just had the mother of all purges in the past few months. Got rid of nine tenths of everything I have ever owned. It was an amazingly good feeling!

    I am also about to meet my future British in-laws for the first time. My future father-in-law is a conservative, evangelical Baptist minister. About to meet me, his soon to be daughter-in-law with the plaid mini skirt, black nailpolish, and stripey tights…

    Pray for me!!

  6. We are also Anti-Pants in this house. The only one who doesn’t go around without pants 90% of the time (even in Michigan winters, go us!) is The Boy Toy, and that’s just because he’s a pansy. I figure as long as I gots me some panties or boxers or something on, I’m decent. Anyone looking in the window will not have to run away screaming, “My eyes! My eyes!” so we’re good. And the children have diapers! That counts!

    Also, my mother was a pack rat. I am not. But I’m still kinda pissed at my grandfather for getting rid of a lot of sentimental stuff of my mom’s when she got sick. Purging should only be done by professionals! (Like us!)

      1. Exactly. My grandmother had to save what little sentimental stuff she could the last day they were there, because she finally found out what her dip husband had done. She was pissed.

    1. Oh, we’re TOTALLY professional! See, I know what needs to be saved. Receipts from 7-11? Probably not worth saving. Old baby pictures? Abso-fucking-lutely.

      We should go into business, duder.

  7. For a wedding gift, our mothers got together and made us a collage of their favorite pics of each of us. They presented it at the reception. We’re naked in about half of them. Totally awkward, considering this collage was viewed by grandparents, former bosses, and college friends.

    Children of the 80’s didn’t wear clothes, I’m sure of it.

  8. I love this! I am unfairly lucky in that, while I am not my MIL’s favorite, she is pretty awesome, and wouldn’t care if I showed her naked baby pictures. I mean, come on, naked is “technically” a state of dress. (Okay, UNdress.) And most kids are naked 7/8 of the time anyway! (I used your logic of being the favorite by default till May of this year. Then my stupid brother in law got married. His wife is the favorite. That bitch!)

    My favorite mother in law story, is that when Paulo was away for the first, or 90th time I don’t remember, and we were still dating she said to me: Do you want to see a video of Paul singing in Portuguese? While he was taking a bath?

    How does one say NO to that question? Of course the fact that she followed it with “It doesn’t matter that he’s naked, they’re not very big at that age.” completely made my, well, century!

  9. I have a great photo of me from 1960 (yes I am that old), I was 1 and just standing up, pulling books off the bookcase, in a t-shirt with my awesome baby booty sticking out all naked and cute.
    Baby got back!

  10. Must. See. Photos.

    In my family, I am surrounded by conservatives. They are horrified that once took a picture of Oscar breastfeeding. Hmmm…I think I might have to do a post about that one.


      My dad and brother always acted horrified when I nursed my babies. Until I started talking loudly about masturbation. Then they shut right the fuck up.

  11. Your MIL must be a stick in the mud. Who doesn’t love naked baby pictures? I’m not sure if children in the 80s wore clothes, because there are no pictures of me. None.

    But if there were, I’m guessing I’d be naked,or, at the very least, dressed in boy’s clothes. Which would make me a transvestite baby. Is that worse than a naked baby?

  12. Purging stuff… OMI! I had to purge the stuff my mother couldn’t deal with when both she and Dad ended up in a nursing facility. And that was just the house in PA. There was a house in Colorado to attend to also.

    This took about 5 years of my life. They lived till their 90’s so there was a LOT of stuff.

    When I was going through photos (first Dad was the family photog, then mother took it on in the 1980’s), I realized that the memory triggered by the images was what I got bogged down with. So, I would do it for a while – like set a timer for a 1/2 hour – and then be happy with what I had accomplished. On to the next area to be cleared out. Did it again the next day. Washing my hands after looking at the photos always helped let go of the emotions.

    And so it went… for 5 freaking years. Glad to be not in that childhood home.

    1. That’s exactly what happened to me, funny you should mention it. I hit the age where life turned to shit for me and I couldn’t handle it anymore. Photographic evidence is hard to ignore, you know, so I really had a tough time.

      I like your idea and that’s what I should do. Great idea. Thank you.

    1. Let me find a picture to explain it for you. Let’s just say it involves glasses that take up most of his face and a gigantic 70’s black mustache. My dad and I are often mistaken for Middle Eastern, and holy SHIT, this picture makes him look, well I can barely recognize him.

  13. My current boyfriend was raised extremely conservatively (read: his father was mennonite. which is amish lite). His parents are sweet and supportive of the two of us, but there is clearly a “what we don’t know won’t hurt us” barrier there.

    So it was pretty awesome when we ran into them the other night in Target while buying condoms. (what. we were being SAFE. antibiotics + the pill = ooops! i would think they’d be proud that we’re proactively NOT trying for mini-txtingmrdarcys.)

    Nuff said, really.

    1. The first time it dawned on Daver’s parents that we were shacking up before we were married, wow, was that awkward, although, with the kid, I guess they knew I wasn’t a virgin.

      But hot DAMN that’s awkward, dude.

      1. You know what, I should have just said “Oh, do you want me to run back and get ‘The Weekender’ and we can split it?” That probably would have been the most appropriate response.

        Instead of blushing like a fiend and trying to hide them behind some greeting cards but realizing that the cute little cartoon pitures of “condom details” were totally visible.
        *dies again*

  14. My mom? Hippie. She actually brags about well, being a cup of orange juice once…in high school or something…yea. Exactly.

    And I’m the black sheep of the exclusive “daughter-in-law” club. They think I’m weird because I’m not all screamy, bubbly, yippie when I converse. Nor will I ever be. So, I’m happy to be all left out. Whatever.

  15. Bex!! Perhaps it’s because I’m feeling especially stabby (sorry to steal your adjective here but it fits nicely!) towards **my** frickin’ mother in law today, but I seriously got mad reading this post!

    What person doesn’t have adorable naked baby pictures of themselves?! GEEZ lady…It wasn’t like Aunt Becky was surrounded by sex toys & little naked baby boys!!!

    1. When this happened (Alex was a baby), I was kind of hurt because I was trying to bond with her. I mean, really, they were just baby pictures of me! It wasn’t like I was 16 or something.

      But since then, we’ve somehow gotten over it and we get along pretty well now. Which is good.

    1. There is nothing more adorable than baby butts. And why shove kids in pants? They’re hot and uncomfortable! I’d go pantsless if I wouldn’t frighten my neighbors with my wobbly bits.

  16. On my 3rd time meeting my now MIL, she took out the baby album. He was mortified. It was fabulous. And my favorite picture of him is in that album. Laying on the couch next to his dog while wearing a shirt, socks and shoes, and a smile.

  17. Love that story. Maybe more so because I have a bit of a hang up when it comes to naked pics of my kids. I have a few adorable tushy shots….absolutely no frontal nudity. I know other people do it and think it’s cute. It makes me cringe. So, yeah, I guess that makes me your mother-in-law? Well ain’t that some shit.

    I looooove throwing stuff away (or donating it, as the case may be). I always say that’s a huge perk of living in such a small house…I am forced to be a purging fool. My mother, on the other hand, lives alone in a 2 story, 4 bedroom house and she keeps the most useless shit. (Really? You saved the birthday cards that people gave me on my FIRST birthday? Please, for the love of god, throw them in a bonfire….cuz that’s what I’m gonna do when you die and I’M forced to deal with this crap.)

  18. Tell your MIL to get a grip. It’s not like you were the photographer! Sheesh… nudity and little kids is not a big deal unless you’re a pedophile, in which case, well… let’s not go there. 🙂

  19. I have lots and lots of naked pics of the fairy princess, mostly because she hates clothes. The pics of the other kids almost always include fully clothed children because they have modesty issues. Oh, and to comment on the other site, I think men and women can be friends.

    But…this could be because I work with a group of motley geeks that remind me of my high school friends and almost all of them are men. They have been through thick and thin with me, and most of them have stuck around.

  20. I never thought I’d feel so deprived by not having naked pictures. I think I’m going to complain to my mother now. Was I not worthy of nakedness?

    1. Oh, I’m going to the mall to one of those kiosks and getting “WORLD’S BEST DAUGHTER-IN-LAW” on a gold necklace and wearing it. Just so everyone knows that I am it. HA.

      Also, if my brother-in-law married a mouse, she would usurp me.

  21. i love naked baby butts. i love pictures of my own babies naked baby butts running around. not really sure what is wrong with my kids, but so far 2/3 have taken to running around buck naked except for a pair of boots. talk about blackmail pictures.

    and, in a *totally, highly, unbelievably inappropriate* joking manner, husband and i have started making jokes about our princess’ “baby coke whore” look, which is her pink faux-fur lined winter jacket, panties, and nothing else. ok, sometimes her winter boots, too. such gems as “where’s your credit card, Rollergirl?” or, “how did the meet and greet go with the studio execs today?” have been tossed around lately.

  22. My MIL adventures began so long ago. She hated me. I was from the wrong side of the tracks as we used to say and her little boy’s shit didn’t stink. When my son was barely a year old, we were visiting the in-law’s for Christmas. After feeding my son I wiped his face and then gave him a big Mommy lick right across his carrot flavored cutie kisser. We were laughing but I noticed my MIL had a shocked look on her face. She said “I NEVER kissed my sons on the mouth”. To which I replied, totally without thinking, “And, it shows”. Later, after my daughter was born, my MIL and I were getting along better, if you call her constant chattering and my increasing ability to ignore atom bombs exploding ‘getting along’. We had gone to my BIL’s wedding (oh, the one eyebrowed wonder he married… a whole ‘nother story). During the four hour trip home my MIL was going over everything she had learned about being a mother which one would think could have been covered with one good beer burp but NOOOOO! I had a baby on my breast and a toddler playing in the floor (nobody used car seats way back then) when my MIL said “I suppose you would like for me to stop chattering”. Oh dear Lord… I don’t know what possessed me unless it was the goddess of unruly and loud children but I said “Nah, keep going. Eventually you’ll say something I can use”. There was a moment of silence. The kind where you think you just may have been present for the final breath of the universe when suddenly, she began to laugh. We’ve been the best of friends ever since. Even though I divorced her son 30 years ago! Go figure.

  23. My kids are doomed, because we are a naked family, and my mother is a pack rat. Poor, poor kids. Yay, my naked butt. Which would scare anyone even if they do love me.

  24. My mother Can’t Find my baby pictures. In the piles of CRAP she can’t find the ONE picture I asked her for. 🙁

    My parents are both packrats, as is my mother-in-law. My mother and my husband’s mother could have a Pack Rat Race. I wonder what the prize would be?

    I constantly fight the urge to keep stuff – I purge every chance I get. All the while, husband is trying to rescue stuff, insisting it “isn’t that bad.”

    Dude. I will NOT become my mother. Not now, not ever. Kiss that receipt for gas from 2 years ago goodbye . . .

  25. My mom never took any of me.
    Interesting because I was born in the “summer of love”.

    Note: I don’t think she participated. Though it would have done her a world of good.

    I think your mother-in-law was being prudish. Except for if you were over 2 when they were taken, then or might be a little odd. :).

  26. Let your mother in law know that that “pack rat” term is just a friendly way of saying hoarder. And hoarding is a disease. I know that because hoarders now have their own reality TV show and are sometimes on Oprah getting free cleaning services and home makeovers. That makes is a real illness right? You may want to nominate the MIL.

  27. I dont have anything funny to say at this time..just wanted to let you know that a couple of years ago when Phil and I had no $ for Xmas gifts, we did that for my parents. They had all of their pics in a couple cardboard boxes. So phiip made photo albums and covered them in perty fabric and I organized them. One of the best gifts my parents ever got 🙂

  28. Either I come from a naked family too, or as the third child maybe they just got tired of dressing people once they got to me. I’d say a good 70% of my baby pictures are either only diaper or maybe not even that.

    Pack rattery runs in both sides of our family – when their generation passes on, the landfill will be full.

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