Times My Parents Should Have Asked More Questions

My parents are pretty cool parents. Generally, they’re good about discipline and did a great job raising me and my two siblings. Occasionally though, I’ll be telling a story to a new friend and I’ll suddenly be aghast at how little my parents intervened at certain obvious red flags. I know there’s only so much you can do when your kids act strangely, but man, we (me, my parents, society at large) all lucked out by these not being a bigger deal.

1. La Tortura de Barbies

When I was a kid, I used to absolutely future-serial-killer-style torture my Barbie dolls. I’d cut their hair off and hang them from the ceiling fans by their necks using my jump ropes as a noose. My bedroom looked like a freshman year modern art installation protesting the Iraq War for how many maimed doll bodies were lying around. One time, a young male friend and I found matches and melted one Barbie’s face until it turned black and then continued to play with her in regular rotation as just… a burn victim, I guess.

My mom repeatedly walked in on me orchestrating some kind of crazy Barbie doll orgy where all the Barbies would switch partners like a 1970s key party. Some were missing limbs, that one unfortunate soul was facially charred and the rest had their hair or tiny plastic noses shorn off. It was basically a Barbie concentration camp. How do you see that from your child and not ask a few pressing questions?

Best Case Scenario:

She’s just a weird little kid who needs to exorcise a few demons using inanimate objects.

Worst Case Scenario:

She starts burning cats. And then murdering people. We Need To Talk About Gaby.

Question They Could Have Asked:

“Sweetheart… are you an American Psycho?”

2. Agent Foxy Mulder

The Halloween I was in the sixth grade, my friend Jess and I — then both obsessed with the TV show The X-Files — decided to dress like intrepid agents Mulder and Scully. Jess had a David Duchovny poster above her bed and was pretty into him in a romantic sense. I played along like I did too, but really? I wanted to be Mulder, not so much be with Mulder.

That year, we dressed up as the investigative duo — Jess as Scully and me as Mulder. I put my hair up in a fedora and carried around an inflatable alien doll yelling “The truth is out there!” instead of the traditional “trick or treat!”

The reason I had a Mulder costume all ready to go? Because a month earlier when my mom had tried to get me to buy new outfits to wear to synagogue for the high holy days (meaning fancy clothes), I only wanted suits. Pants suits like the ones Mulder and Scully wore. I wanted neck ties. I wanted to look like an alien-pursuing FBI agent at all times. Instead, I looked like a miniature Hillary Clinton.

Best Case Scenario:

Overactive imagination. Perhaps she’ll become a writer or a scientist or go into law enforcement.

Worst Case Scenario:

Proprietor of the net’s premiere UFO evidence message board. Lives in basement. Wears tinfoil hat.

Question They Could Have Asked:

“Also… Mulder and not Scully? Pantsuits? Were you born a 45-year-old lesbian?”

3. One Does Not Simply Walk Into A Cigarette Shop

I fell briefly into the “bad” crowd my sophomore year and started hanging out with the mall goths and artists of my tiny, private, sheltered-as-hell high school. This is horribly embarrassing, but I was also mega-into The Lord Of The Rings at the time and I’d read in a magazine interview that Elijah Wood (a.k.a. Frodo) smoked clove cigarettes. When bad-kid-big-talk push came to shove and the other kids wanted to know what I smoked, I lied and blurted out the only thing I knew: cloves. Then, someone in that group bought me a pack of cloves. Neat! I could pull this off.

Only here’s the thing about cloves: they taste awful. So I smoked them around the other kids, but mostly I kept them in my backpack. One day, my mom was doing her usual “cleaning”/snooping in my room and found my cigs. Ruh roh. The conversation went like this:

Mom: “Whose are these?”

Me: “They’re not mine. They belong to… uh, my friend. I am, uh, holding on to them for her.”

Mom: “Oh. Okay.”

And that was it! Are you kidding me?! That’s all it took? I can’t remember if she actually took them away or not, but man. I must have totally Jedi-mindtricked her.

Best Case Scenario:

She’s going through a phase and cloves are gross. She’ll grow out of it.

Worst Case Scenario:

Emphysema. Cancer. Lord of The Rings cosplay conventions.

Questions They Could Have Asked:

“Hahahaha. Your friend’s? Seriously? These are obviously yours. You’re grounded. Forever.” TC Mark

image – The US National Archives

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