Everything I Learned From Being Quarantined With My Parents

"Did you see the way the guy on Jeopardy pressed his buzzer?"
"Did you see the way the guy on Jeopardy pressed his buzzer?" Big Cheesy Photo / Getty Images
Here's a fun thing that happened: I came to visit my hometown and my parents in Garland roughly a month ago. (Why? Don't ask!) And just as I was done ingesting all the Tex-Mex and fried food I could fit into my mouth, the world fell apart! Coronavirus spread and within a few days, I found myself quarantined with my parents in my childhood home.

I know what you're thinking: free food! And you are absolutely correct, and that's reason enough for me not to out my parents for all the weird things they do, yet here I go. Living with your parents for the first 18 years of your life is one thing. Living with them as a 29-year-old adult is another. After Dallas County put the shelter-in-place order into effect, we've been jammed together for 11 days, and let me tell you, this is a unique experience.

Please don't get mad at me. Obviously, I'm thankful for the place to live and the fact that my family is healthy and safe right now, but as my father — a person who was alive and in Dallas when JFK was shot — said, "This is the craziest thing I've ever lived through." So please, enjoy some of the things I've learned about my two 60-something-year-old roommates.

What makes a Jeopardy! contestant unlikable?
Did you know average Americans competing on a game show can sometimes be unlikable? My parents did! And they would like to tell you what makes that person so unlikable! Maybe it’s their demeanor, maybe it’s their tone when they answer a clue in question form, or maybe it’s just the way they push the buzzer. There are loads of reasons, and I’ve only scratched the surface.

Speaking of Jeopardy!, dinner is served the minute it comes on at 6 p.m. Wheel of Fortune follows at 6:30 and then Jeopardy! comes on again at 7. We all sit at the kitchen table together (I’m not allowed to eat in my room or the living room), and we try to solve the puzzles on the game shows. My mother can solve a Wheel of Fortune puzzle with three letters on the board yet doesn’t see a valid reason to try out for the show. What could she possibly do with thousands of dollars, anyway?

I have no idea what my mother does for a living.
Yes, my mother is a Wheel of Fortune genius, and I guess that’s all I know about her because I have zero idea what she does for a living. She will tell you she works in IT for healthcare, yet as someone who writes about The Real Housewives of Dallas, I do not know what that means. When she is on a conference call with her co-workers and they are speaking, I understand the words, but I don’t understand what the words mean when they are together. Much like the scenes in Charlie Brown when the adults start talking, everything is wah, wah, wah.

My mother has interesting ideas about what therapy entails.
Since being back, I have gone to therapy a total of four times. After the first time, my mother asked me if I taught my therapist about the five love languages. My therapist is a licensed professional with degrees in psychology and my mother wanted to know if I, a classic idiot who blogs for a living, taught my therapist about love languages, a practice that has been around for nearly 30 years. On top of that, my mother also asked me if I told my therapist about a stuffed animal I’ve had for years, a frog I named Smoochy. No, Mom, Smoochy surprisingly hasn’t come up.

My father loves Hallmark movies and I honestly don’t know if it’s ironic or not.
The Hallmark channel is always on in this house, meaning I’ve seen two men fight over Candace Cameron Bure more than I would like to admit. My mother and I hate the movies, yet my father refuses to change the channel because “it’s the only TV in the house that gets it.” I don’t know if his love for it is ironic or not and at this point, I’m too afraid to ask.

Two and a Half Men is an awful show.
Have you seen this show? It stars Charlie Sheen in cargo shorts constantly making sex jokes while his young nephew is present. I watched one whole episode where he and his soon-to-be stepsister, played by Jenny McCarthy, make out behind their parents’ back. If the Hallmark channel isn’t on, this show is, yet I’ve never heard my father or mother audibly laugh at this show.

They exercise inside.
My mother’s Fitbit tells her she must walk 10,000 steps each day, but because we live in Texas where the weather is only ideal for two days per year, my mother completes the 10,000 steps inside. She walks in circles around the living room until they’re complete. Indoors. Walking. In. Circles.

I told my parents I was writing this story and what they should expect. Today, my mother walks in my room and tells me my dad is napping.

"Are you going to include your dad's naps in the story," she asked.

"No, why?" I asked, knowing she wanted me to include more about him to balance out the shaming.

"Because he naps. That's interesting," she said.

Not really, but this conversation is!

Thanks, parents, for making this quarantine ... interesting. 
KEEP THE DALLAS OBSERVER FREE... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Paige Skinner has written for the Dallas Observer since 2014.
Contact: Paige Skinner

Latest Stories