Family bonding presents some interesting opportunities.
Sometimes you learn family secrets. Sometimes you learn family stories. Sometimes you get stuff.
I think I know all the secrets there are to know, and at this age I'm really not expecting to haul out the heirloom waterford crystal.
But I did hear one great story yesterday while helping my mom unpack her china.
And the moral of the story is this: looks can be deceiving.
My mother apparently walked into an Ethan Allen furniture store 28 years ago, with a 2 year old, blonde ringleted baby on her hip (I hear she was a cute kid...) My mom was doing well to be showered and dressed for public, considering all the struggles and tasks that come with raising a small child. So on this particular day in Charlotte, North Carolina, my mom was opting for comfort... battling the hot, sticky humidity of a summer day in the Deep South. All she wanted was a couch. A nice couch to put in her suburban home. And so, instead of dressing to the nines with pearls and stockings, she flowed with the rush of motherhood and threw on a pair of white shorts and a Stanford University t-shirt.
No doubt, the Summer of 78 was likely a summer that brought on the kind of heat that forces you to literally peel yourself out of the car, pulling the skin from a vinyl seat that sticks to the back of your legs when you go for a ride.
There she was, freshly showered, clothed, baby in tow and needing a couch so she could sit down and put her legs up after all those hours of chasing-after-a-wild-child-and-cooking-meals-grocery-shopping-ironing-doing-loads-and-loads-of-laundry-tidying-bedrooms- and-playrooms-and-family-rooms-littered-with-blocks-and-dolls-and-little-Fisher-Price-toys- that-roll-and-make-chiming-sounds-when-they're-pushed-by-a-curious-toddler.
A spot that would be her refuge as she sipped on a can of Tab and fanned herself away to dreams of a cooler Minnesota.
Well, the lady at Ethan Allen would have none of that. She looked at my mom square in the eye and said in her lazy Southern drawl, "Honey. This furniture is real expensive."
No "Hi." No "Can I help you?" No "How are you doing?"
Just a terse, abrupt hello/goodbye statement dished out when someone surmises another person's position in life based on the the clothes they're wearing.
My mother was shocked/appalled/embarrassed. Who the hell was this furniture showroom clerk and why did she snap to judgment because my mom was in a t-shirt and shorts? I mean, seriously, who wears their mikimoto pearls and eveningwear when picking out some end tables or an area rug? How did this woman assess in about seven seconds that my mother wasn't the heiress to the Folger fortune?
I mean, she could be, right?
30 years later, my mom has lots of nice couches, and lots of nice pieces of furniture. Amazing oriental rugs and fabulous end tables.
And not one of them has come from Ethan Allen.
Gosh, that woman was dumb.