Category Archives: Family Secrets

Family Secrets Revealed….#6A: The One About How I Earned My Ouachita Players Nicknames

WARNING: This post is not for the weak of stomach.

Last week’s post about regurgitation reminded me of another family secret.

My freshman year of college I was selected to be a part of the Ouachita Players, a drama group that performed skits throughout Arkansas and occasionally just outside its borders. I first told you about my stint on the drama team while revealing another family secret, “The One About the Orange Balls.”  I loved being a part of Players. Over time, my fellow team members became like extended family. We laughed together, prayed for each other, and enjoyed each other’s company. But when I first joined the group as a lowly freshman, I was intimidated by the upper classmen on the team. Several were well-known around campus. Cheryl was cute and bubbly and always had a date on Saturday night. Dennis was one of the BMOC, a pretty preacher-boy-gonna-be. These were the cool kids and I got to hang out with them! Of course, I had two other freshmen, Steven and Greg, on the team with me, so I wasn’t the only newbie.

One weekend the Players traveled to Cheryl’s home church in Haynesville, Louisiana to do a Sunday night program. The people at their church were gracious hosts and they prepared a snack supper for us to enjoy before we hit the road back to school. I ate half a ham sandwich but something about it just didn’t taste right. I thought it was the Hellman’s. I’m a Duke’s mayonnaise girl, you see. Suddenly everything on the snack table looked extremely unappetizing and I had a funny feeling that something less than wonderful might be happening to me.

I don’t know what you do when you feel like you might be coming down with something, but if I isolate a thought that’s telling me something like, “I wonder if that tickle in my throat means I’m getting a cold,” I attack it as the wussy wimp that it is and attempt to talk myself out of being sick. “Nah, you just swallowed that chip sideways, that’s all. You’re okay.” So when somewhere in the corners of my brain, I wondered, “Hmm. I hope I’m not going to be sick,” I pushed that thought aside like it was a great big bowl of Miracle Whip.

Unfortunately, my brain forgot to tell my face that I wasn’t sick because it had taken on a sickly, pea green hue. I may have been fooling myself, but I wasn’t doing a great job of convincing anyone else.

“You feel okay?” someone asked.

“Who me? I’m fine!” I responded with fake vim and vigor. After all, I was a Ouachita Player.  I could act my way out of feeling sick!

As evidenced by the lack of  Oscars on my mantle, my acting couldn’t convince the other Players I was okay so they suggested I sit in the front seat of BMOC Dennis’s car in case I felt carsick.

“I don’t get carsick. I’ve never been carsick.”

Those were the last words I spoke, until later in the journey when I uttered these words that will forever live in infamy:

“I think I’m going to be……”

Yeah. I finished that sentence by selling cars (Ford, Buick, Hyundai), calling Ralph and dinosaurs, etc, ad nauseam (seriously, I added lots of nauseam).

Cute BMOC Dennis demonstrated his superior driving abilities by going from 60 mph to standing his car on its front wheels in less than two seconds, but it was too late. I you-fill-in-the-blank-here all over the dashboard of his car. And all over myself. And maybe a little splashed on cute BMOC Dennis.

Have you ever wished that you were a bird so you could fly far, far away? No? Just me and Jenny? Well, I just wanted to die right there. But I couldn’t even die because I was too busy being sick. As soon as cute BMOC Dennis stopped the car, I flung open the door but could only manage to turn sideways and lean over before the whole yuck started up again. If I can be frank, I was throwing up my toenails, people.

Back in high school when I watched a soap opera or two, I used to wish I could cry like Reva on Guiding Light. She always looked so pretty when she cried. I, on the other hand, look like my face is trying to turn inside out when I cry. But I don’t think even Reva Shayne Lewis Lewis Spaulding Lewis Winslow Cooper Lewis O’Neill could make throwing up look good. I know I certainly can’t. What made it even worse was that my new Player friends were trying to be a blessing. My friend Greg was actually holding back my hair while I… you know. Oh, how I prayed for the rapture to happen at that moment! But it didn’t. Oh, the mortification!

Cheryl’s mom had done her laundry while we were in town so she had some clean clothes in the trunk of the car. The girls held up a blanket (it was blue; I still remember it) for me to change behind. On the side of the road. While the boys on the team waited patiently in the cars. Still no rapture, Lord? Sigh. I’d imagined it would be fun if Cheryl and I were BFFs and we could borrow each other’s clothes and makeup while we giggled and talked about boys, but never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that I’d be trying on her clothes on the side of a rural road somewhere between Emerson and Arkadelphia.

And we weren’t home yet.

Now, I had no aspirations that cute BMOC, preacher-gonna-be Dennis was ever going to ask me on a date. I liked admiring him from afar but I never thought we’d start a family and a church together some day. I just wanted him to think that I was pretty cool for a freshman. Let me give you a little helpful hint. Throwing up in someone’s car? Not cool.  So I wished that I could crawl into the glove compartment of his little compact car when he gently and sweetly advised, “Now, if you think you’re going to be sick again, if you’ll just let me know, I’ll pull right over for you.”

(“ok. thanks.”)

I don’t remember the rest of the ride. I vaguely remember a couple of the girls half-carrying me to my dorm room when we arrived back on campus. I remember being so sick that my parents ended up driving up from Louisiana to take me home for the rest of the week.

And then I remember my first Ouachita Players practice after I got better. Oh, did I mention that every. single. person. who rode in the car with me that night got the same bug? I think cute BMOC Dennis caught it first. I’m not sure if it started WHILE he was cleaning my vomit out of the front seat of his car or after….Yeah, I’ll give you a minute to let that mental image die a slow, violent death. Sigh.

At first, everyone was sweet and loving.

“How are you?”

“We were worried about you.”

“You doing okay.”

And then someone, I’m not sure who, said, “So, did anybody give Chuck–I mean, Amy–a copy of the new skit?”

“Hey! I thought we’d all decided on ‘Chunk!'”

The snickers and giggles piled on top of one another and became snort laughs and guffaws.

And that’s how I earned my Ouachita Players nicknames.

Don’t even think about calling me either one of them.

Ever.

Or I’ll make you cry like Reva without the pretty.

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Family Secrets Revealed….#5: The One About the Stertorous Breathing

Lean in closer. It’s time for another family secret. I’m not asking you to come closer so that I can whisper it to you but so that you’ll be able to hear me over that obnoxious sound coming from the couches and chair in the living room. No, that’s not a dinosaur barbershop quartet singing a paleolithic classic. That horrific melody you hear is coming from the snores of my husband, mother, father, and brother. Ladies and gentleman, I have lived my whole life as the sleep-deprived loved one of chronic snorers.

Growing up, I always enjoyed family vacations….until it was time to go to bed in our shared hotel room. The goal was always to try to fall to sleep before my parents did because if I didn’t, I wouldn’t get the chance. Not only are they snorers, but I’m an extremely light sleeper who at times has trouble initiating sleep. The more stressed I am about falling asleep, the more difficult sleep is for me. I remember crying as a little girl because I couldn’t get to sleep first. I have “slept” in many a hotel bathtub lined with towels. I have spent an untold number of hours reading in the bathroom once I finally gave up on ever getting any rest.

One year, my parents chaperoned a youth choir trip to Mobile, Alabama. One night the girls slept on the gym floor of one of the churches we were visiting. In the middle of the night, I heard one of the girls near me say fearfully, “Did you hear that?! What is making that noise?” I shook myself awake enough to try to discern what she was hearing. In seconds, I was fully awake because I knew without a shadow of a doubt exactly what that sound was and its origin. My mom, who had set up camp far away on the opposite side of the gym, was snoring. In the dark, I crawled across the floor and shook her awake. “Mom, you’re snoring. And embarrassing me. Please, please, stop!”

My mom was actually diagnosed with sleep apnea and has a sporty device that she’s supposed to wear every night called a CPAP. It “reminds” her to keep breathing through the night. I’ve discovered that continuous breathing is a good and healthy thing.

In 1996, I moved away from the snorers of my family to begin my happily ever after with the man I love….who snores. Actually “snore” is too mild a term for whatever it is that K does. At times I have clung to my side of the bed with all of my strength because I was sure that he was going to suck me, the furniture, and all the air in the room into his mouth during one of his particularly impressive suction snores. When we were newlyweds, I would cough, aggressively turn over, or clear my throat, hoping he’d think he woke up on his own. After a few years of marriage, I’d pretend that one of my arms or legs had inadvertently wandered to his side, hoping the brush of skin would wake him. A few years ago, I’d gently tap his arm or sweetly shake his side. “Sweetie, I think maybe you’re snoring.” Lately I’m resorting to full-on combat mode. A swift kick to the leg, a jab to the side, whatever it takes.

A couple of years ago when my youngest two were sharing a bedroom, I noticed that every morning I’d find my daughter sleeping in various places throughout the house. I thought she was just an early riser until one day she confessed that her brother snored. Et tu, Brute? He was having some other medical problems at the time and he ended up having a tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy. Now he’s a reformed snorer who only “breathes loudly” in his sleep occasionally.

K’s been to the doctor, too, and we’ve been told that a lot of his issues are due to allergies and sinus problems. I really try to be understanding, but I find that the closer to 3 a.m. it is, the more my sympathy wanes. What can I say? I enjoy sleeping!

So I poke, kick, prod, and on occasion, wear earplugs.  And pray that we never decide to do an extended family trip that involves everyone sleeping in one room.

Do any of you live with snorers? Do you snore? Any good “living with people who snore” tips you want to share?

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Family Secrets Revealed….#3C: The One About Coalmikinosis

 I really enjoyed reading your first date stories. If you haven’t gone back and read everyone else’s stories, you should. You guys have dated some real winners….or should I say “wieners?” 

Is anyone else a little freaked about all the swine flu warnings? I vacillate between thinking it’s not going to be a big a deal to seriously considering keeping the family locked safely in the house until next June. 

All of the H1N1/swine flu talk reminded me that I never finished Family Secret #3, the one with all the deception. I wanted to tell you about the time my brother contracted a “deadly disease.” But before I do that, I want to tell you about yet another family member who aided in the gullibility of my youth. On our road trip from Massachusetts down South this summer I occasionally saw signs that urged motorists to “Watch for Falling Rock.” I hadn’t thought about this story in years, but I suddenly remembered that when I was younger, my mom’s half-brother told me that Native Americans placed those signs all through the mountains so that people would look out for a little lost Native American boy named Falling Rock. The story was a real tear jerker and I probably spent hours of my life looking for that poor little Cherokee boy. Whenever we saw Native American children I examined them all closely wondering if one of them might be little Falling Rock. I guess I thought he’d been frozen in time when he was lost and would never age. When I was older and realized I’d been duped, I just thought my uncle had created the story himself. Just for kicks, I googled it this morning and lo and behold! It seems that grown-ups have been telling the Falling Rock story to kids for years. Were any of you told that story? In my extensive (five minute) research I observed that the details differ in some of the stories…Get your lies straight, grown ups! 

When you see the overwhelming amount of lies and deception perpetrated on me throughout my youth, you must certainly not judge me if I may have possibly, on isolated occasions, told my little brother things that perhaps were not entirely true. But don’t judge me! I was a victim myself!  Have I cut myself enough slack yet?

My brother is three years and four months younger than I am. This picture of my brother was taken in the last year or so, I think:

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But at the time today’s story took place, he looked more like this:

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He’s the second one on the middle row. The one in the Spiderman t-shirt who is  having some sort of a spaz attack. Let’s pause for a moment while I regain my composure.

Okay. I’m back. That picture sends me into complete hysterics every single time I see it. He posted it on his Facebook page some time ago and the picture coupled with the thirty-four comments from his friends that it generated are better than Zoloft or therapy. Whenever I’m feeling a little blue I just look at that picture and all the comments. 

So the story: One day my friend Chanin and I were hanging out at my house. Chanin was one of those kids who was cool way before it was even cool to be cool. She even has a cool name. She introduced me to Saturday Night Live and Steve Martin, The Go-Go’s,  and Nagel’s paintings (he designed the cover of Duran Duran’s Rio album). She never tried to be cool, she just was and she was one of  the most creative people I knew. She seemed comfortable in her own skin and she was a good friend. At the time of our story, Chanin and I were probably in fourth grade.

My brother came into my room and rather than kick him out, Chanin and I thought it would be fun to play a little trick on him. I don’t remember planning this out beforehand; I think one of us took the lead and the other ran with it. We started fake crying. My brother asked us what was wrong and I told him that I had just overheard my mom talking to the doctor on the telephone and they were talking about him. We told him that the doctor said my brother had a rare disease, coalmikinosis (koal-my-ki-NO-sis), and that he was probably going to die. We told him that he would know death was imminent when he could see little tiny bumps on his tongue. Of course my brother immediately ran to the bathroom, climbed up on the counter and examined his tongue…and saw little tiny bumps. How was I to know that he’d never looked closely enough at his tongue to see the papillae (yeah, I googled it.)! 

He immediately ran to my mom, who was indeed on the phone but not with the doctor, and started crying and stuttering about “Coal My Kuh…Coal Muh….What do I have again, Amy?” Of course I stared at him blankly and said, “Mom, I have no idea what he’s babbling about. We were just minding our own business. I think he bumped his head or something.”

I’d like to tell you that was the last time I lied to my brother but I also told him that he wasn’t really part of our family and that I had his real family’s phone number and that if he didn’t do what I said, I’d call them and have them come and get him. This may or may not have been accompanied with some fake dialing on my part. In later years, when we were old enough for my parents to leave us in the house by ourselves, I would occasionally run into the wall, act like I had amnesia (this was during my soap opera-watching days), and tell him I had no idea who he was and order him out of my house. Yeah, that would freak him out a little.

So, Little Brother, who is now old enough to do me physically harm, thank you for not killing me in my sleep whenever you had the chance. Please forgive me for misleading you at times throughout our childhood. To make it up to you, I’d like to make a donation to the Coalmikinosis Foundation in your name. You’re welcome.

If you’ve missed any of my family’s secrets, you can always look on the right side of my blog and click on Family Secrets under the Categories section. Just doing my part to keep it real.

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Family Secrets Revealed, #4: The One About Checking Your Chickens

Last time I told you that I’d finish Family Secret #3 with a story about coalmikinosis. You’ll still get your coalmikniosis story, but you’re going to have to wait for it a little bit longer. Today’s Family Secret involves more friends that seem like family. You need to know this secret so that if we’re ever sharing a meal together in public some day and one of us unknowingly spills something, we’ll be able to discretely communicate that to one another. That may not seem like a useful skill, but if you’ve ever needed this stealthy communication, you know what a valuable resource this is.

I’d like to introduce you to Ken, Patricia, Albany, Mickey, and Merideth Irvin. The Irvins became part of our family in the late 1980s which is why most of the pictures I have of Albany and me look a lot like this one:

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In case you needed a laugh today, you’re welcome. Sigh. So much that I could say about this picture. And yes, that’s CPQ in her large-white-collar fineness. We should just move on with the story, but before I do, don’t you agree that I should sue my legs for non-support? I was living on the edge there trying to support all my weight on one spindly ankle. Twenty-something years, three children, and a very fluffy muffin top later, I look like a marshmallow with toothpicks poking out the bottom. The fourth decade is a mean one, friends.

Ken and Patricia were my  parents’ best friends and Albany, Mickey, and Merideth were more like cousins or even siblings. We spent almost every weekend together at our house or their house. We vacationed together, ate many meals together, played games together, watched air shows together….They were an everyday part of our life. So even though no one in my family was present at the time of the following incident, it somehow has become woven into the very fabric of my family’s favorite sayings.

One day, the Irvins were having a family dinner at a local restaurant. Albany was talking, which if you know Albany, means no more than if I’d said, “Albany was breathing.” For Albany, breathing and talking are almost the same thing. Anyway, in the middle of her story, she noticed that Mickey was trying to get her attention. He waited patiently for Albany’s next breath, and therefore, the only pause in the conversation to point at his shirt and whisper, “Albany, your chicken.”

Albany had no idea what he was talking about. She figured Mickey was just being Mickey and continued with her story. The next time she took a breath, Mickey jumped in and tried again.

“Albany, check your chicken.”

Albany looked at her plate and around her place at the table. She wasn’t even eating chicken. Mickey could really get on her nerves. Anyway, like she was saying….

This time Mickey was louder and more insistent. “Albany! There’s something on your chicken!!”

By this time, Albany was exasperated.

“Mickey! I don’t have any chicken. What in the world are you talking about?!”

Mickey looked embarrassed and said, “You spilled something on your shirt.”

Sure enough, Albany looked down and saw that she had dripped part of her lunch on her chest.

“Okay,” she said, “but why were you talking about chicken?”

Mickey’s face turned fire engine red and he said, “Well, I didn’t want to say ‘breast,’ so I figured you’d know what I was trying to say if I said you had something on your ‘chicken’ because chickens come in breasts.”

So now if anyone in my family tells you you to check your chickens, at least you’ll know where to look.

I introduced you to Albany and her family so that I could let you know that all of Albany’s talking practice has parlayed into a career for her. She was recently selected to be one of the newest hosts on QVC. Eventually she’ll be on the night shift, but for the last couple of weeks she’s been making a few daytime appearances so that the audience can get to know her. I still haven’t been able to catch her on TV, but she’s supposed to be on this Wednesday (June 24th) from 9  a.m. until noon and Friday from 6 until 9 a.m. (all times are Eastern Standard Time).

These times aren’t carved in stone, as I found out last Tuesday when I tuned in to watch her. For whatever reason, her segment was bumped. I’d never watched QVC before, but K is already concerned that I may have found a new addiction. All I said was that the anti-frizz humidity spray was amazing and that it would certainly be useful for all that Southern humidity we’ll soon be handling and his smart alecky pants reply was, “And so it begins.” Whatever. You do what you need to do to support your family. Right, Albany? Anyway, if you get a chance, you should watch her do her thing on the QVC. But I take no responsibility for any ordering that takes place as a result.

P.S. If you need to catch up on any of the other Family Secrets, click on “Family Secrets” in the Category Section on the right where my list of favorite blog friends should be but for some reason isn’t.

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Family Secrets Revealed……#3B, The One About the Orange Balls

jx_fullThe last time I revealed a family secret, I told you about my mom, the prankster. So we’re crystal clear, this is the same lady I told you about on Mother’s Day, the one who has taught me so many things and that I hope to be just like when I grow up. She’s just as wonderful as I described, but she does have a dark side. A prank-loving, no holds barred, dark side.

To be fair, I come from a family of pranksters on both sides. My dad’s brother told me that he was actually Mac Davis. For you youngsters, he was a country singer from the 70s who had a variety show on TV. My uncle said that Mac Davis was his stage name. Rick could play the guitar, he sang Mac Davis songs, and grown-ups never lie, so I told my teacher at school that Mac Davis was my uncle. You know she might have believed me, if I hadn’t come back to school the next week and told  her that my mom’s sister was Darlene from the old Mickey Mouse Club show. That’s what my aunt told me and her name is Darlene, they do resemble each other a little if you squint your eyes just right, and grown-ups never lie. I think at this point my teacher thought that I was either a pathological liar or emotionally disturbed. Now that I reflect on my childhood, I wonder which is truer: that I was surrounded by pranksters or that I was extremely gullible.

You’d think that with all my experience being fooled as child that as I grew older I would have been adept at knowing when my leg was being pulled. That’s what you’d think. And yet….

We moved to Louisiana the summer before my junior year of high school. One day, not long after we moved, my mother, brother, and I were driving somewhere and I asked my mom about the orange balls I saw suspended on the power lines along the road. I didn’t remember ever seeing anything like them when we lived in South Carolina. Have you seen orange balls on power lines? Do you know why they are there? Well, according to Tana Manufacturing, the company that makes orange balls for power  lines, the balls are wire markers that “mark power, communication, and guy wires at airport or helicopter approach areas, river and canyon crossings, overhead obstructions at construction sites, or obstructions that present a hazard to birds.” In other words, they make power lines more visible to birds, aircraft, and construction equipment. Is that what my mother told me? No. 

“Oh, those?” my mom answered breezily. “Well, you know they sometimes have heavy flooding in this area.  When the water gets as high as the power lines, those balls help them locate the lines easily.”

Could you make a case that her explanation was so outlandish that I should have known better? Perhaps. But you were not in the car on that hot summer day. You did not see the confidence with which she delivered her lines.  You did not hear that her voice wavered nary a bit in her calm, yet strong assertion of fact. Cool as a cucumber, she was. And isn’t it a testimony of my undying trust in the woman who gave birth to me that I believed that every word that flowed from her lips was the gospel truth? 

Oh, that this story ended there in the car on that humid August afternoon!

Fast forward two or three years. I was a student at a small liberal arts school in Arkadelphia, Arkansas. I was a member of the drama team. I know, me? Drama Queen? Hard to wrap your mind around that image, isn’t it? Anyway, our team had been asked to travel with a few staff members from the university to assist with a student recruitment event in a small town in Arkansas. We split into different groups for the trip. I rode in the back seat with my friend Greg who was one of my Ouachita Players comrades. One of the members of the admissions team was in the front passenger seat and Dr. Bud Fray, a former missionary and iconic Bible professor at Ouachita, was our driver.

As we made our way down the roads of rural Arkansas en route to our destination, we small-talked about campus life, future plans, and the like. The conversation had slowed and I was just enjoying the scenery passing by my window, when I remarked, “Oh, they must get a lot of rain in this area.”

“Why do you say that?” the admissions counselor asked curiously.

At this point in the story, you  want to get in your time machine, go to the past, and stop me, don’t you? You’re wishing you could tell Whimzie-In-The-Past to say no more, right? You see it coming, don’t you? You don’t actually have a time machine, do you?

“Because of the orange balls on the power lines,” I said offhandedly.

I could see a the top half of Dr. Fray’s face in the rearview mirror. He seemed interested in the path the conversation had taken. 

“What do the orange balls have to do with rain?” my friend Greg asked.

“Oh, don’t you know why they put those orange balls on power lines?” I asked suddenly aware that I could potentially become the star of that little car trip.

“I thought I did, but why don’t you tell me?” asked Dr. Fray curiously.

Someone once said that knowledge is power. I was at once drunk with the power of the realization that I obviously knew something that they didn’t. This was my chance to shine. This was my chance to make a lasting impression on not only one of my peers, but with esteemed faculty members of my beloved institution of  higher learning. Oh, I was getting ready to make an impression, all right.

“You see,” I answered confidently,”they put those orange balls on power lines in areas that have heavy flooding.When the water gets as high as the power lines, those balls help them locate the lines easily.”

Apparently, at that exact moment, Dr. Fray had to swerve to avoid something on the road. At least, that’s what I guess happened, but I’m not sure if he even knew because he wasn’t looking at the road, he was looking back at me in the rearview mirror. With a weird, almost frightened look on his face. And I don’t know how those crickets got in the car, but suddenly that’s all I heard. 

Greg finally broke the silence and said, “You aren’t kidding, are you?”

At that very exact moment, I realized the stupidity of what I had just said in that car to esteemed faculty and my friend. I don’t know what else was said on the trip. This was before cell phones were commonplace so I spent the rest of the evening counting the minutes until I could get back to my dorm room and call my mother and thank her for embarrassing the living daylights out of me.

Do you think she was sympathetic? Do you think she was ashamed of herself? Or do you think she snort laughed so loud that I couldn’t get in another word? When she found out I was revealing family secrets on my blog do you know which one she personally requested?  This story. So, this one’s for you, Mom. Enjoy yet another snort laugh at my expense.

So now you know why I never pass an orange ball on a power line that I don’t think of my mother, the prankster.

Stay tuned for Family Secrets Revealed Part #3c, The One About Coalmikinosis. If you haven’t heard the other secrets yet, here are links to the first few:

Family Secret 1: The One About Dad Cussing

Family Secret 2: The One(s) About Alice

Family Secret 3A: The One About My Mom, The Prankster (Kiwis, Worms, Quarters, and Funnels)

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Family Secrets Revealed….#3A: The One About My Mom, The Prankster (Kiwis, Worms, Quarters, and Funnels)

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It’s April Fools’ Day! I thought about posting that I was pregnant, or that I’d checked myself into rehab because of all the popcorn crack, or that FlyLady had asked me to take over for her when she retired because I was the best FlyBaby she’d ever raised, and then I was going to end the post with a great big “APRIL FOOLS’!” (I’m always conflicted where the apostrophe should be on that exclamation or if it even needs one!) I decided not to go that route. Instead, my mom suggested that I tell the story about the Orange Balls….which reminded me of the story about the kiwi….which reminded me about the worms, the funnel, and coalmikinosis. So even though I just posted a family secret a couple of days ago, I’m going to give you another one. This one is about my mom, the prankster. 

My mom is an amazing person. I could write pages and pages, books even, about what a wonderful woman she is. Unfortunately, today you aren’t going to hear about her more loving and compassionate traits. She has them, I promise, but she also has an evil streak. She LOVES a good practical joke. I’m going to try to keep this post from becoming epic in length, but I have so many wonderfully cruel stories of pranks she’s pulled that it’s hard to cull out any as being the best. I think I’ll just do this post in installments to keep it from being the length of ANNA KARENINA.

The sad thing is, Mom doesn’t discriminate on the basis of age or familial connection. She will pull one over on small children and the geriatric population without a second thought. And if you’re related to her? All the better. Let me tell you the kinds of things she used to do to my poor little cousins.

My Aunt Darlene used to allow her twin daughters to spend time with us during the summer. Now my mom would pull out all the stops to see that the girls had a good time. We’d eat snow cones and play in the water and do all the stuff that makes summer so much fun. But in between the fun, my mother would torment those poor children. 

One day, Mom was cutting up fruit for a fruit salad.  Several kiwis were on the cutting board, waiting their turn to be added to the bowl. Apparently, my cousin Ashley, who was probably about five years old at the time, had never seen a kiwi. She reached out to touch one and asked, “What is that?”

Now, I don’t know what possessed my mom at that moment, but the second Ashley touched the kiwi, my mom shrieked, “OH, NO! Did you TOUCH it?!” Ashley’s eyes were as big as her face and she was so startled that all she could do was nod.

My mom cried, “You should NEVER touch one of those!! Oh, NO! I hope it’s not TOO LATE!! HURRY! HURRY! Let’s go get some alcohol!”

Ashley, unsure of what was happening ran with my mom to the hall closet where we kept the first aid supplies. Mom grabbed a bottle of  rubbing alcohol, poured some on a cotton ball and frantically started scrubbing Ash’s finger. Then she handed the alcohol to me and yelled, “Here! Keep scrubbing while I call the doctor!!”

I’d like to be able to say that I put the bottle down and assured poor, sweet Ashley that this was all a joke and she was going to be fine. But being the obedient child that I was, I did what my mother commanded me to do.

Mom picked up the phone and acted like she was calling the doctor. “No, I think she only touched it for just a second. Right. So do you think her finger will fall off? No, it isn’t turning black…not yet anyway. Do you think we should take her to the emergency room?”

Just before Ashley slipped into total freakout mode, we realized we couldn’t keep up the farce any longer. We started laughing hysterically as Ashley stumbled around with a “deer in the headlights” expression. The poor child didn’t know what was happening and I doubt that she’s ever actually tasted a kiwi because of that trauma. She just turned twenty-eight last month, so scarred for life? I’ll let you be the judge.

That summer Mom also did the trick where you trace a quarter with a pencil and then somehow convince people to roll it all over their faces. Again, they were five years old, so it didn’t take a lot of convincing.  Oh, one of her favorite pranks that summer was the funnel trick! Have you seen that one? I found an example of this prank on YouTube. Watch this:

Now imagine two tiny, defenseless preschoolers with ice water running down their legs. Let’s see, what else did Mom do to those children that summer? If I’m not mistaken, that’s the summer she put nasty plastic worms from Dad’s fishing tackle in their beds. If I’m not mistaken, that’s also the year their night terrors began. I was just reliving these stories with my mom on the phone. My Aunt Darlene just happens to be visiting there this week (what do you want to bet she checks her bad tonight after these stories?) and she was saying she couldn’t believe Mom was so cruel to her children. I said that I couldn’t believe Aunt Darlene kept sending them back year after year to be tortured.

Believe it or not, Mom maintains a healthy relationship with her nieces even today. I think I’m just now beginning to understand why she helped moved them in and out of their apartments each year at college and why she worked tirelessly helping the girls before their weddings. Guilt, maybe?

Anyway, that’s enough about my mom the prankster for today. Stay tuned for my mom’s personal favorite, Family Secret #3B: My Mom, The Prankster: The One About the Orange Balls. Have a great April Fools’ Day! Oh, and I’d stay away from my mom today if I were you. Friend of mine or not, you wouldn’t be safe.

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Family Secrets Revealed….#2: The One(s) About Alice

I’m going to let you in on another family secret today. This one involves family friends we had when I was younger.  I don’t really remember when my mom and Marilyn became friends, but once they did it was as if her family had always been part of my family. Marilyn had three teenaged daughters and I was about five or so years younger than the youngest daughter. Our families spent huge amounts of time together and I have very special and fun memories of that family.

The dad of the family makes the best homemade ice cream on the face of this earth. Even if he gave you the recipe, you’d never be able to make it like Jake can. He’s also deaf as a post. (I know that’s not much of a segue, but I thought I’d start off with a compliment before I just laid the ugly truth out there.) Jake truly is one of the nicest, funniest people you’d ever want to meet, but if you do get to meet him, he probably won’t understand a word you say. But he’ll repeat to you what he thought he heard you say. Which is never what you said. But it’s almost always funnier.

Let me give you an example. Once upon a time, Jake and Marilyn walked into our house and Dad was on the phone. Mom told them that Dad was talking to Kay Wharton (she was a member of our church). Jake’s response? “Game warden? Why in the world is he talking to the game warden?”

One of Jake’s misunderstandings is so legendary that it has taken on its own persona. I’m not exactly sure why this gaffe became such an integral part of our family fiber, but to this day, if you are around any of us for any length of time, you will almost certainly hear us utter this phrase. So now, as the late great Paul Harvey would say, the rest of the story…

Jake and Marilyn were on their way to somewhere to do something and Mom and Dad weren’t going. As they were leaving, Mom jokingly said, “Don’t have fun without us.” Jake immediately asked, “Alice? Don’t have fun with Alice? Who’s Alice?” So even today, if you’re going to do something without one of us, we will almost always say, “Don’t have fun with Alice!”

There’s an addendum to the Alice story. Apparently Jake had Alice issues. Shortly after the “fun with Alice” incident someone said something about outer space. Jake said, “Alice’s face? What about Alice’s face?”

So, I’m off to do productive things. Today’s my first day back on the FlyLady wagon, you know. I’ll have to let you know about my first day back on track. I didn’t expect any of the rest of you to actually want to do this with the CPQ and myself, but I’m glad for those of you who are. But like I told Tiffani, this isn’t like the time I turned you on to Popcorn Crack so I don’t want any of you throwing timers or control journals or feather dusters at me later this week. You’ve been warned. Now go forth and FLY, but whatever you do, don’t have fun with Alice!

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