A little over five years ago, during my senior year of high school, I had just moved into my dad’s apartment. It was one of those big complexes with a dozen buildings and probably a dozen units per building. Each floor had its own laundry room so you didn’t have to go out to the laundromat, but you still had to be careful to avoid wash-rush-hour.
This particular laundry room had faulty wiring in the overhead halogen lighting, which caused the lights to flicker incessantly. Because I have migraines this sometimes made it nearly impossible for me to be in the room more than a minute or two. I should probably mention that at the time I did not like doing laundry anyway (since then I’ve come to enjoy it as a great source of relaxation, but at the time it was dreaded work.)
One day I was begrudgingly doing the laundry, and had just brought it back into our apartment, which was about five steps from the laundry room. I made some kind of disgruntled comment about the flickering lights and how obnoxious they were, and there began years of teasing. Because the flickering of the light didn’t impact the overall brightness of the room due to the other working lights, my dad and my brother had never really noticed it, apparently. Also because they are men, and men do not notice these things. So as I grumbled about the flickering, I saw them look at each other, and I saw the bemused look they both get when they’re about to tease me to kingdom come.
What flickering light? they asked innocently?
The one in the laundry room… I said, rolling my eyes.
They looked at each other again, Great, now she’s seeing flickering lights. they said to each other, assuming I was just trying to get out of doing laundry. Seen any unicorns lately? they asked sarcastically.
I insisted quite vehemently that the lights in the laundry room were flickering, then and on many consequent occasions when we were in the room together, but they insisted that I was imagining things. (Laughing all the while, because of course, they were just pulling my leg.) This particular joke has never died out, and whenever a time arises when I’ve mentioned something that they didn’t notice they stick in a quick Are the lights flickering too? just for good measure.
I’m not new to teasing. Apparently I’m one of those people who others find it infinitely amusing to tease, joke about, poke, prod, annoy, and mock (because I can take it, they say. Because I always have a sarcastic comeback. Because I’m “one of the guys.” There should still be a line, right??)
As a young and very klutzy child my dad would always call me Grace, especially right after I’d tripped over my own feet. I’d be walking along, minding my own business, and things would just HAPPEN to me, I swear! I mean, gravity would double for a split second in the exact spot where I was walking, and I would find my face intimately acquainted with the floor. Or tree branches that I’d climbed for years would inexplicably decide they couldn’t handle me, and they’d drop me unceremoniously to the ground. Or I’d be walking on rocks by the river and they would suddenly open up into unending caverns below my feet, dropping me into rivers and streams. There was no end to it. So for the greater part of my childhood I could hear chuckling from behind me and then heh, uh, I mean, you okay Grace? Of course I was okay. I’m not stupid or something.
Another thing my dad would say when I was a little kid was Look at the white horse! as he’d point in some random direction. I can’t say exactly how that one started, but it was partly a ruse to distract from something else going on, partly a commentary on our gullibility, I don’t really know what else. If we were complaining about something and on a long road trip he’d point out the window and say look at the white horse! and we’d all look, and whatever was wrong before that would be forgotten. But yes, occasionally when my dad knows I’m making a good point about something but he doesn’t have a response or want to keep arguing with me, he’ll just look quickly off in the other direction and look at the white horse, which effectively ends the conversation with unmasked eye-rolls from me.
The last little bit I’ll bore you with is this – the barbie doll fiasco. In my family are 7 girls (myself included) and 2 boys, and even though numbers are vastly in favor of the girls, we somehow all ended up being tomboys, instead of having girly brothers or whatnot. Anyway we never really played with dolls, but especially not barbies. But one time someone gave me a barbie for Christmas because they just couldn’t fathom how I didn’t have one. So long story short, ever since I got it, even though I didn’t play with it all that much, my dad would always make fun, saying I was gonna turn as blonde as barbie and be just as smart. (As a young child my hair was banana blonde, and it wasn’t til later that it turned dark, so this struck me as too believable!)
In response I would basically pout for about half a minute and then just tell him to shut up, and I’d wander off on my own, because well, what else could I do? Anyway one time we were at a state park we frequented, and about to head for home. My dad found my barbie forgotten on the ground before we got in the car, and he thought he’d teach me a lesson about ‘easy come, easy go’. So what does he do, he pops the head off the barbie and sticks it on the radio antennae! Of course I didn’t notice right away, until we’re about half way home, and I find the rest of the doll lying headless on the floor, and ask what happened to it, and my dad points out the front window, cracking up like it was the last breath he was ever gonna take!
These are just some of the ways my good ole dad has enjoyed making fun of me over the years. Somehow the rest of the universe caught on and decided to jump on the Mock Tess bandwagon. Wherever I go, people just know. Is it stamped on my forehead? Mock Me?
Ah well, I suppose I don’t really mind. It’s given me quite the sense of humour, or at least I think so! Maybe I channel the sarcasm a bit much but if you’re gonna dish it out you’d better be ready to take it, so buck up kiddo. Welcome to life as Tess.