We would all be at the dinner table, food scarfed quickly but fully enjoyed (all good Finkes have this particular art down pat), dishes would be washed, and conversation would be flowing. Even as a six year old my topics of conversation were always riveting, hilarious, and deep, as you might have expected.
Then the unspeakable would happen.
My father’s hand would slowly make its way over to my mother’s upper thigh. I was always blissfully unaware of this atrocious act, right in the middle of my newest life-altering opinion that everyone should hear, but my older sister’s eyes would bug out as she screamed in her piercing ten year old voice, “RQ! RQ!” (She really did have an uncommonly high piercing voice, even for a ten year old girl.) Those two letters, RQ, I knew to mean, “Get out of here. And FAST.” If not, I might be the victim of seeing horrendous acts. You know…my parents might….you know…..kiss.
The very thought of such a thing caused me great agony.
Who knew what RQ meant? Who cares? It meant get out because Mom and Dad were about to be gross. My sister said it. I responded. My parents would laugh, somehow thinking the pain they were causing their beloved daughters to be funny.
Now that I am a tad older, those are my two favorite letters when strung together. (On its own E is my favorite letter, for obvious reasons.)
RQ meant that my parents loved each other. It meant that even after two (and later three) children, my father still found my mother beautiful. It meant that even after too many hours spent at work and not enough hours spent on tandem bike rides, my mother still found my father worthy of her time and affections. (That was also made evident by the disturbing sticky note on the bathroom mirror in my mother’s handwriting that said, “You’re a hunk!;)” that stuck there staring at me for years with its one eery open eye.)
RQ meant that my parents were in love. And they poured that love (minus the icky sticky note winky faces) into my sisters and I incessantly. I can only hope that I can find something like that when I finally find a man worth paying attention to. (Oh, it will happen as I have given God multiple firm talking-to’s.)
RQ meant that my older sister had my back. She didn’t want me subjected to that sight just as much as I didn’t want to be. There were times in my childhood when I would run full force into her bedroom door, trying to spend time with her, and she would be right there on the other side using every fiber of her body to keep that door closed. My little body would hit it full force and subsequently hit the ground full force. It was always confusing to me why someone wouldn’t want to hear my brilliant thoughts on everything for hours at a time? She would literally rather sit at the door making sure I didn’t get in than have me in there while she got to do other things. But even with her insistance on not hanging out with me, RQ meant that she still cared about me. RQ meant that as the kids in the family, we were in this together. RQ meant that my older sister was looking out for me.
Later in life (embarrassingly later, actually) I had a lightbulb moment about RQ. It was actually “our cue.” As in, “it is our cue to leave now because Mom and Dad are about to get gross.”
For the record, I still prefer to think of it as RQ.