12 Secrets from My Parents

My parents are up in years now (My dad just turned 78 this month), but they have always been a bit neurotic, especially my mom.  As a result, since I was in college I've learned to filter things to keep them from getting overly excited and/or limiting my freedom (not that they have really ever been able to do that, but the instinct persists).

Below are some facts and the rationale behind why they were kept secret while Dani and I visited over spring break and did our post-Katrina explorations.

Fact: My name is Alex.
Rationale: When I changed my name from what my parents gave me to Alex some years ago, I never told them.  I've never gone ahead and changed it legally, even though people in most circles of my life only know me as Alex.  However, I've always worried that my parents would view this as something personal rather than me returning something that didn't fit.  Or, worse yet, would think that I had multiple personalities.  Which we don't.

Fact: I shave in the car while I'm driving.
Rationale: My mom in particular could have written those "Worst Case Scenario" books.  Sure, it isn't a good idea to be doing <i>anything</i> while you're driving, but time saved by shaving in the car is time I could better use at home writing Fight Club haikus or something productive like that.  My mom doesn't need to fodder for a lecture about the multi-car pile-up I'll end up in.

Fact: We drove by the projects in New Orleans.
Rationale: Even though I grew up in and around New Orleans, my folks still look at the place like it's Beruit.  This continues in spite of the fact that there's hardly anyone left there since hurricane Katrina.  Apparently we might be mugged by ghosts.

Fact: We went exploring in the post-Katrina abandoned buildings.
Rationale: According to my mom, we might get shot by the police as looters if we went in any abandoned buildings.  In fact, in all our exploring, we saw absolutely no cops in any of the abandoned areas.  Honestly, there was no one left to protect and virtually nothing of value to steal.  In some places, there wasn't even a house, just a slab the water coursed over.

Fact: A piece of lumber flew up and hit the rental car on the interstate.
Rationale: It's over, we're fine, no damage done.  There's no need to talk about it.  If we told my dad, for example, he would want to investigate for damage.  If there was any (which there wasn't, thankfully), that would inevitably turn into a project for that afternoon involving sandpaper, paint, and much frustration.

Fact: Dani's car accident from three years ago.
Rationale: Once again, it's over, we're fine, no damage done.  I never told my folks at the time because they would want me to get checked out by a doctor (even though I hardly experienced any injuries) and would worry about Dani (which I was already doing enough of for all of us).  I've never told them in the years since because then they would realize that I can and do keep secrets from them.  And what good can come of that?

Fact: I have migraines.
Rationale: Actually, I only recently figured out what was causing them (certain candies like Skittles and Shock Tarts... my two favorites), so I don't have them any more, but for the last eight years or so, I had really bad migraines and didn't know why.  These are the kind that cause "auras" which basically leave you blind for an hour at a time.  You think I want my parents worrying about whether I'm driving when one of these starts?

Fact: How long it has been since I had an eye exam.
Rationale: Even though my vision has not gotten any worse in the last few years, my mom is obsessed with getting check-ups.  She asks me about eye exams, dental visits, getting a physical, immunizations, etc.  No matter what she asks about, I'm always up to date.  Or at least that's what I tell her.

Fact: That we adopted another dog.
Rationale: Okay, I didn't plan on adopting this one.  In fact, the plan has always been to find a family for her, but now we're stuck with her.  Odds are they wouldn't care all that much (although my mom would probably worry that the dog would try to eat my guitars.  Once again, I can't go back and tell my folks about the dog months after the fact because then they know I'm keeping even minor things secret.

Fact: Urban Exploration.
Rationale: They have absolutely no idea about our forays into tunnels.  And they certainly don't know about the Observer article with me in it (since that would cover both urbex *and* refer to me as Alex).  We've been doing it for years, have tons of pictured of our exploits posted online, and to many people that's my most salient trait.  But my folks don't need to worry that we might die in a cave-in that will never happen.

Fact: I have a website.
Rationale: Actually, I used to have a "tame" version of my website on Geocities that I showed my dad.  It was free of all references to anything covered above and then some (e.g., my name is Alex, urbexing, any profanity, etc.).  I posted things there if I wanted my dad to see them.  For the rest of the world, there's the alexplorer.net site.  Yes, I'm more comfortable letting strangers see sides of me I won't show my parents.  Go figure that one out.

Fact: Dani and I are going hang gliding next weekend.
Rationale: What are you kidding?  Why would I tell them something like this.  That would be more dangerous than hang gliding!  Although if you never hear from me again, that would mean I gave my mom an opportunity to say, "I told you so."

Update: I could probably add a lot more to this list in the years since we wrote it.  Even though my mom passed away a few years after the above was written, we still find that we have to table some discussions around my dad.  There are a lot of things we just don't bring up around him, like the fact that we voted for the black man with the funny name.

Copyright 2007 (I think) Alexplorer.
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