Thursday, September 27, 2007

People are Strange

Especially when those people are my parents dealing with the internet. My parents have finally started sending me email. My mom has been a semi-regular corresponder for the last couple of months. My dad used to email me from his last desk job, but hasn't logged in regularly for several years. Yesterday, my brother and I got the first email from him in months and months. And it is titled "3 in 1 gun sale." It's not a weird forward, but a completely unique email in more ways than one.

The house I grew up in was really middle of the road where guns were concerned. The folks didn't really keep real firepower on hand, but they didn't advocate against guns either. My dad had been trained to shoot in the army and my mom by a previous soldier-boyfriend. Mom actually drew on an potential intruder once, so they didn't really have much call for "all guns are bad" teachings. We had one wicked old muzzle load rifle made of cast iron with a wood stock that we hauled out for curiosity once in a while. (This was the gun I imagined reproducing until I found out that "son of a gun" wasn't literal.) My brother and I shot off cap guns, and occasionally fired at the woodchuck with bbs; he mostly just gave us a stern look and went on sunning himself. We went to a firing range a couple of times so we could get the feel of shooting a handgun, rifle, and shotgun. (Hello NSA! I fear the clustrmap ads after this entry.)

That background is just to say that my family doesn't make a point of discussing guns for guns sake, but only as part of other stories. So getting an email titled "3 in 1 gun sale" was just strange. Especially when the bulk of the email turned out to be the most comprehensive rundown of my paternal relatives I've ever received. My brother called with a "WTF?" so I wasn't the only one who found it strange.

Here's what I think happened in my dad's brain. My dad likes trivia of all sorts. He can BS on just about any topic for a good half hour before someone trips him up. He loves other peoples stories and marvels of engineering. And good deals. So a "3 in 1" must have caught his attention enough to read about it and try to come up with a way to convince my mom it was a good deal. She probably blew him off, so dad told us about this modern marvel instead. And in thinking of what he could possibly use a gun for, he started reminiscing about shooting rabbits back on grandma's farm.

Rabbit hunting segued into who now lives on my great-grandma's farm, who still lives in town, who did or didn't have kids, and other details, some of which were brand new to me. I found out that my dad's mom wasn't always a speech therapy teacher. I knew she was a teacher when she dated my grandpa (starting on a Friday the 13th :) because she mentioned having to do it on the sly in '39. But it was when she got her speech therapy specialization when my dad was in high school that precipitated their move to the town my mom lived in - so the grands could both teach in the same district. (Grandma recently started needing speech therapy and I wonder if it tweaks her professional pride.)

My paternal grandfather was the only kid from great grand's first marriage, which I knew - g'g'pa died in the flu epidemic and all dad's relatives had a different last name. But it turned out g'gpa's best friend (who treated the flu with whiskey and avoided the hospital) was the one who married g'g'ma. The other new news was my dad's uncles all had different first names than the ones I knew. Turns out they go by their middle names because all the half-siblings had the same first name, although they feminized Aunt F's version. This only lasted one generation, thankfully. I find it amazing that it took 35 years to find out step-great-grandpa's first name, especially when it was common to four living people I knew and visited.

I'm more familiar with the maternal relatives because they are more forthcoming with stories and we visit them more. This catchall history from dad wasn't something I ever expected to be coughed up so coherently and completely without a lot of effort. It was cool, because now I have all the names in one place with a few jobs/careers listed as well in an easily searchable format. But I had to do an edit and re-send to myself the the bro because the history was bracketed in "isn't this gun cool?" And advertising info on a cheap quirky gun with only kind of good accuracy is not really something I want to keep in the permanent record.

Do you get weird emails from your parents or grandparents? Or are they more normal than my family?


Wade said...

My father usually just forwards me jokes. My mother does not use the internet at all.

Anonymous said...

well unfortunately all my grandparents are if they email me I'd be quite alarmed. My MIL just forwards very bad jokes and my Mom has attempted to hook up to the internet a half dozen times. However, she picks the uber cheap dial ups and loses interest/patience so she has never learned the joys of the internets. Maybe I'll tell her that I'd email her a couple time of a day instead of the odd phone call....


CrankyOtter said...

My mom had the misfortune of getting on so many mailing lists with weekly updates and had a couple people who would send her funny jokes every day, but she would only log in every week or two. There was just so much garbage, she lost interest in digging for good stuff and just went without for years. So she's on the no jokes bandwagon. I had to tell my dad not to email IN ALL CAPS. I don't think my grandparents are internet enabled at all, I think last week was the first time I ever mentioned the internet in one of our conversations.

The jokes are weird - you need a small number to get through so you stay connected to pop culture references, but not so many that they overwhelm your system or tick you off. I'm good with one every week or two these days. Then I go play with icanhascheezburger and :)

Junior said...

My Grandmeowm doesn't play on the net, although she did IM Meowm one time (at Meowm's urging). Grandpaw loves the net and can't wait to check his mail each morning.

farmwifetwo said...

My Dad doesn't use it much. Mom uses it for Email.

Depends on her mood what I get. She doesn't send jokes.