26 October 2014

We all have our childhood traumas


If there's one thing I learned from my father, it's that at no moment am I safe from the possibility of falling victim to a prank. Because of him, my brother and I systematically adopt a posture of skepticism even with our closest friends. It's also why we merit suspicion ourselves.

My father had at least two recurrent pranks. To me, he would say, "Kristen, smell my shoes, they smell like strawberries!" I'd insist he was lying, but he'd swear it was true this time. Being a child inclined to trust her parent, I'd give in and have my nostrils polluted by the stench of his feet.

His second favorite prank would be directed at my little brother, to whom he would say enthusiastically, "Do you want some ice cream?" My brother would always respond excitedly, jumping up with a big smile. Then our dad would say calmly, "Oh, we don't have any of that."

One of the first jokes my father played on me occurred when I was a defenseless infant, as my parents recounted to me this evening on Skype. My dad had somehow acquired two stuffed boxing glove keychains. One day, he looked pensively at the keychains, then glanced at baby me, and then back at the keychains. And he thought, "These'll fit her." He proceeded to remove the boxing gloves from the keychains and ripped out the stuffing. Then he crammed my tiny fingers into them, sending me into an angry crying fit.

Living in France, I'm mostly safe from his pranks. My brother, however, still lives at home and continues to suffer under his reign of terror. More recently, our dad told him he needed to make an appointment at the hospital to have an Ebola vaccination. This led my brother to panic over the possibility of infection by the imaginary vaccination itself.

It's a miracle that I've had any kind of a healthy relationship with a man, having my father for a primary male role model.