Friday, February 14, 2014

Dad has Green and Mom has Blue: A Valentine's Day Poem from Me to You

To warm up after getting out of the shower on cold, Wisconsin winter mornings, I used to wrap myself up in towels and sit on the floor in front of (but a safe distance away from) our bathroom space heater. Since the warming process took quite a few minutes, I passed the time - six-year-olds get bored, y'all - by going through my parents toiletry drawers in the bathroom vanity. I came across all kinds of interesting devices and products - from razors and shaving brushes to cuticle trimmers and eyelash curlers - that baffled me, but for some reason I found my parents' deodorants most intriguing. It's best not to ask why I felt drawn to parents' deodorants because I have no answer to that question.

They both used Ban deodorant, and while the base containers looked the same, my dad's deodorant had a green top and my mom's deodorant had a blue top. I checked on the status of their deodorants nearly every day, rolling them up and down to see how much product remained and smelling them to determine which scent I preferred. Again, I cannot explain this behavior.

One day my mom found this poem - written on a scrap of notebook paper and folded into a neat little square - on her pillow.

Dad has green,
Mom has blue.
I love you, 
And that is true.

My mom asked me if I'd written the poem, and when I answered in the affirmative, she complimented me on my writing and hung my poem on the refrigerator next to a note I'd written to let her know I'd cleaned my ears "for her" while she'd been at work one evening. (Lucky woman, my mom, to have kids who wash their ears even she's not home.) She never questioned the subject of the poem or asked about Dad's Green or Mom's Blue...I simply assumed she really "got me" as a writer.

Fast forward 25 years, to me standing in my parents' kitchen, chuckling at the poem and the note that still hang in a place of honor on their refrigerator. My mom asked what I found so funny, and I commented on how strange it was that I'd chosen deodorant as the topic for my first poem. She gave me a puzzled look, and I pointed to the poem. "I wrote this about your deodorants," I reminded her.

"What?", she questioned, clearly not at all in the know.

I ran upstairs to my parents' bathroom and rifled through their vanity drawers until I found their deodorants. Yes, the packaging has changed slightly over the years - all Ban deodorants are light green now - but the colors associated with the previous packaging are still used to distinguish scent. When I pulled out the two sticks I noted that the front of my dad's deodorant had a green stripe on it and the front of my mom's deodorant had a blue stripe on it.

I handed my mom the two deodorants and pointed out the blue and green stripes. "Dad has green and Mom has blue," I explained. She burst out laughing, and admitted to never having had any idea what the heck I'd been referring to in my poem so many years earlier.

The morals of the story are many. First, inspiration can be found anywhere you're willing to look. Second, I am terrible at poetry. Third, even terrible poetry stands the test of time.

Happy Valentine's Day, friends. I love you and that is true.

Valentine's Day is also my parents' anniversary and my sister-in-law's birthday. Happy anniversary, Mom and Dad, and happy birthday, Chandi!

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