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 mouldering 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.