Saturday, May 13, 2006

Black Sheep in the Rail Car

Many, MANY of us have suffered through our fair share of family get-togethers. Generally, there is at least one family faction that doesn't quite fit in, and that's where I come from.

My nuclear family did indeed arrive in a beat up old car, which we always had to park next to some mid-level executive's Jeap Liburtee, or whatever SUV was fashionable at the time. Our car was never missing any doors or anything, but I think it would have been cooler that way. We were already the black sheeps, so why not go all out and set a record?

In fact, if I had my way, we would have showed up in bib overalls driving one of those two-man hand carts; the ones with the see-saw handle on top that rail workers used to scoot about on the tracks. I'd have a big ol' grease smudge on my chest that I'd put there personally, and I would be chewing on either a stalk of wheat, or a crescent wrench. I'd have few teeth.

My memories of family events, including Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter, always included a big meal served in Grandpa's finished basement. He had all his bowling trophies down there, and the ventilation system ran through ductwork that was concealed in a lowered part of the ceiling. So while most of the ceiling was a proper 8 or 9 feet above the floor, this one four-foot-wide backbone ran the length of his basement, and served as entertainment for us children when the taller members of the family bonked into it. They couldn't swear, though, because there was always a nearby clot of tiny little kids who were there to be stepped on. They had powerful ears, those tiny kids. Teaching them potty words was MY job--not my tall cousins, bless them.

So, here for your reading pleasure, time-wasters, is an account of a Thanksgiving that took place long ago. It is semi-truthful, but Grandpa's insanity was, um, enhanced, because crazy old men are always funnier than sane old men.

“Hey you guys! Get out of that mud now; we’re going to Grandpa’s house.” The Mom yelled from the back porch.

“Will Jennifer and Tracy be there?” asked Rodney, stealthily holding his rubber band gun behind his back.

“Yes. Into the car with both of you. I guess there’s no time to clean up now, so you'll have to be muddy.”

"Yay!" The boys liked to be muddy.

Rodney, Jimmy, and both parents piled into the crusty old beat up Ford Taurus with the missing rear door. The seat next to it was Jimmy’s favorite; he liked the freedom of the open road. The door would have been nice to have around when Dad drove over the curb doing 50 and he fell out. The family remained sanguine.

“Ahhh… He’ll find his way home. He’s a smart boy,” said Dad. Upon reaching the Grandparents’ house, Dad, displaying his driving prowess, parked the Taurus under Uncle Bob’s Liburtee. "That'll learn 'em!" said Mom.

Grandpa met them at the door, armed as usual with his cap gun and PEZ dispenser filled with Pepto Bismol tablets. He was wearing a tri-corner hat with a couple of duck feathers in it.

“Well, if it ain’t good ol’ Bill! How’s the throwin’ arm there boy?” he said, emitting a blinding spray of pink spittle.

“It’s Rodney,” said Rodney, stepping back. Geez. He'd even had a t-shirt made that had his name on it in big block lettering. "I'm Rodney" it said.

“I know your tricks, Bill," said Grandpa, eyeing him suspiciously. "Pepto Bismol?” he asked, thrusting forward his PEZ dispenser. Rodney politely turned down the offer and ran off to annoy his relatives.

"Crust,” muttered Grandpa, “they never want one! This new generation's so fulla smug little whelps like that Bill there.” He tottered off to find some mustard.

By the time dinner was ready, Rodney had eaten all of the Skittles in the candy bowls and thrown Tracy’s entire collection of Barbie dolls into the big tree out front. The family assembled in the basement, sat down, and waited for one of Grandpa’s famous hour-long prayers. Rodney readied his rubber band shooter. He never got the chance to use it. Right in between the words “God” and “bless”, Grandpa suddenly drew his cap gun and violently blasted away at thin air.

"Arrgh! Y'great thieving crumb bum! Not today!"

“Why is Grandpa doin’ that? ‘Nother seizure?” Rodney asked his grandmother.

“Oh my, no dear! He’s just getting rid that big blue squirrel that he says follows him around. Claims the brute tries to swipe his Pepto tabs. Get 'im dear!” Rodney cheered Grandpa on.

When he had finished his roll of caps, he stood facing the stunned group of relatives, grinned, dropped his dentures, and fell down. Grandma rolled him into the closet.

After dinner, everyone went home full of Uncle Bongo’s Weasel Chops and Grandpa’s homestyle Jell-O. Even Grandpa himself was able to taste of the wonderful cuisine when he found his way out of the closet a few days later.

Y'know, I probably wouldn't have minded going to these things if there'd been entertainment like that. I even worked in a falling-down! If any of you know where I can find some Uncle Bongo's Weasel Chops, please email me. Call me nostalgic.


Jack W. Regan said...

This is a cool story--fits right in with our Old Man theme! We may have to rename this blog, The Blog of Old Men. Hmmmmm.

Paul FooDaddy Brand said...

Maybe an offshoot?

Anonymous said...

I always thought everybody ELSE in the family were the black sheeps, drivin' them Jepe Libba-Tease an' such.