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Humor August 2014

Agelessly Yours

Down at the House

By Karen White-Walker

In fact, the outsiders looked like they could use a good tonic. Okay, I'll say it, a good strong laxative. That was the carefree pre-terrorists era, but some of the in-laws looked like, well, they looked like they had just been taken hostage.

Why didn't somebody ever tell me? They should have told me. But no, there I often sat at Mama's and Papa's house, sometimes stewing in some corner over a new pimple that had maybe popped out that morning, or crestfallen because some greasy-headed new boy I had just met showed no signs of finding me absolutely irresistible — blemishes and all. So introspective was I that I couldn't look beyond myself and realize that Mama and Papa and all the gang wouldn't always be there.

"See you down at the house," my aunts and uncles would say, and that indubitably meant my grandparents' place. The clan descended in droves, like starving jackals on some carcass, craving Mama's homemade sauce, and hungering for each other's company. You could always spot the in-laws — they didn't display near the enthusiasm that Papa's and Mama's offspring did. In fact, the outsiders looked like they could use a good tonic. Okay, I'll say it, a good strong laxative. That was the carefree pre-terrorists era, but some of the in-laws looked like, well, they looked like they had just been taken hostage.   

"You could at least pretend you're enjoying yourself," one of my blood relative uncles would warn his snooty wife.

"I can just sense that they don't like me," she whined.

"Well over the years you have pulled a few whoppers."

"Yeah, like marrying you! We're not staying long," she warned, "So don't get too comfortable."

"We'll see about that. Just remember, I have the car keys," and he'd dangle them in front of her uppity nose.

Their “Dance of Anger” never varied. Their marriage endured 41 years, so they had to have had something other than hostility going for them.

Above all the laughing and yelling I can still hear the horseshoes clanging while the dusty earth kicked up and powered their so easy-on-the-eyes faces. Some were more handsome than others, but really, not an ugly looking one was in the bunch. Come evening the men would get out the Pinochle cards. Uncle Giuseppe would be a partner with normally soft-spoken Uncle Tom, and they'd be pitted against Uncle Calogeo and Uncle Ted — no big deal until Uncle Giuseppe started bidding all the way up to 45. With trembling hands Uncle Tom would lay down his lousy five meld, Uncle “Big Mouth,” his puny two meld –  and that's when Uncle Tom's vocal cords got their weekly workout.

"We have a whole seven meld between us!" yelled Uncle Tom, "and even if we got all 25 tricks that only totals to 37. Like a big shot, you bid up to 45? What, you can't count, knucklehead?"

"Neither can you. That totals 32 NOT 37, you nincompoop!"

"You got me all crazy and nervous inside. Even before the first card is played, we're done, finished, and kaput! I'm never playing with you again!"

“Never” lasted until the following Sunday night when once again we all met down at the house. "Never" became a reality until heartbreakingly their generation just faded away — done, finished, kaput!

And guess what? My generation is next. Why didn't somebody tell me it would happen so soon? They should have told me. I'm telling you: savor every second. You probably will for the moment, but then you'll forget. People always do.

 

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