Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Wally's Kid

I just had a patron at the library check out, and when she handed me her card, I remarked, "Oh, you're Dillon's Mom!" She laughed at told me how growing up she had always been "Dwight's sister," and now she's pretty much known as "Dillon's Mom." She wondered if she would ever be known just as herself.

Well, that got me thinking.

Growing up, I felt that my identity was alwasy intrinsically tied to my parents'. Being the daughter of the local barber always meant that I had to do my sinning three counties over, because anything and everything naughty that happened in town was hashed and rehashed over stale coffee and conversation at Wally's Clip Joint. In fact, the only behavioral dictate my mom ever gave me was "Don't do anything you're going to regret later in life," and the only one my dad ever gave me was, "Don't EVER let me hear your name in this barber shop." I had to completely grow up and move away to stop being known as "Wally's kid" or "Jeannie Puck's (you know, she married the barber) girl."

But forging a completely new identity was hard. There's something very Midwestern-y, small town cool about being able to identify yourself as your parents' child and having people immediately know your family tree. Then again, I was lucky enough to have been born to an illustrious family tree known for its good folks and fine roots. I've never been ashamed to be "Wally's kid" (even though I did go through the requisite "my dad's a weirdo and I can't stand to be seen in public with him) phase that is pretty normal for teenagers.

In fact, I'm lucky that even though I have to earn my position in society today by my words and deeds, there is still a place out there that I get to visit every once in a while where I can walk in, say "Hi" to the locals, and go about my business. Then, when I get up to go, I'm gratified to hear as I walk out the door, "Oh, who's that? That's Wally's kid!"

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