Sunday, September 16, 2012

It's Not Gossip if You're Eating

                I received my e-mail notification from AT&T that my monthly bill was ready to be reviewed.  As I have multiple phones on my account (Daddy, me, Payton) I always double check to make sure no one is going over their minutes or whatever.  It’s really somewhat of a joke as everybody and their mother in my family is on AT&T and therefore we do not get charged for calls betwixt ourselves.  This has granted us a roll-over account balance akin to the money held in the Cayman Island accounts of unscrupulous politicians. 

                I do, however, have a limit on data usage each month and my niece Payton and her never-ending search for “awesome stuff” leave us precariously close to overage charges in that area.  Much to my surprise, however, this month it seems that the majority user of minutes that caused us to dip into our rollover account was my Daddy.  Yes, dear readers, I am as surprised as you.

                My father’s usual contributions to conversation are a complex series of grunts, burps, protestations of ill treatment and demands for fried things.  And that is only because I am seated directly in his visual path and am the purveyor of things, both ill and fried.  When someone visits our home, he beats a hasty retreat unless there is food.  Then, and only then, will he begrudgingly entertain people with jokes at my expense while scarfing as much food as possible to allow social hibernation for the remainder of the entertaining activity.

                When someone calls him on the phone and it’s not his home health aide telling him she will be late again or a Pizza Hut delivery person needing more specific directions to our home located on the grounds of the hospital, he is less than thrilled, to say the least.  He looks at the phone with the same of revulsion I have for any article of clothing that has snap-closures (i.e., western shirts, coveralls, et al).

                However, it seems that he will talk to his sister Gladys on a weekly basis for up to 40 minutes.  Now, I have never witnessed one of these marathon conversations so I can only deduce that there are a lot of ‘mhmms’ and ‘a-yeahs’ and more likely than not, several periods of the phone being placed on the table while he attends to his business of eating, abluting and crocheting, in that order.  Not being overly fond of phone conversations myself, I can understand his aversion.  However, his lack of engagement in simply the discussion of his lack of engagement is almost humorous.

                There are many interesting and useful things you can glean from a simple phone call.  For instance, my sister just enlightened me to a heretofore unknown three-pronged approach for housing money in one’s unmentionables; brassieres to be exact.  Mind you, my sister is not the person for whom that is a means of insuring her money is safe.  I prefer FDIC backed security; however, my maternal grandmother, the sainted Mama Dot, has recently embraced this method of safekeeping for her net worth.   Off shore bank accounts are just not done by good Christians from the South.

                It seems that my sister was visiting Mama Dot when she was made privy to her new idea (the first prong) on how to keep her money safe from “those people”.  Who those particular people were was never really revealed as my sister solemnly agreed that she “knew” who those people were when Mama Dot’s revelation was transferred sotto voce (which is Italian for whisper).  After slipping the dinero (Spanish) into her brassiere (French?), which is, as you may have guessed, the second prong, Mama Dot rose to journey to wherever it a grandmother will travel when they leave the room and are gone for seemingly months on end.  It is unseemly to ponder the destination. 

After she left on this sojourn, my sister noticed the money lying on the floor.  Apparently the third and final prong in this approach is to have actually donned said foundation garment, which was invented in 16something or other by some guy who then had the idea stolen from him by a patent thief, if I am to believe the song from the musical Bette Midler stars in, inside the movie “Beaches”; a movie that makes me weep unashamedly and without reservation, not unlike one does when one hears “The Christmas Shoes” for the first time.  Seriously, I had to pull over to the side of the road as I could not see and the wipers on my eyes couldn’t keep up.

                And I am happy that my Daddy will listen to the stories that his sister tells as they give great insight into the human condition.  Case in point, recently there has been a bit of drama in their tiny not-even-a-town.  Now, as one who has lived in the boonies for the first 24 or so of my 41 7/8 years, I can assure you there is typically drama afoot in these particular necks-of-the-wood but this latest incident is worthy of a repeat, which he gladly did over morning coffee.

It seems that his older sister, Gladys, has a neighbor who had two of her children visiting; one of them for the day, the other for roughly 32 (of 48) years, so far.  Anyway, there was some melodrama about cigarettes or beer or something and someone had a seizure or a wrestling match or a really impassioned game of Twister (there were people on the floor, fully clothed – I’ve learned not to ask for details) and in the midst of the thrashing about, one of the tiny dogs, named Tootsie Muffins or Mitsie BooBoo or something equally cutesy, was frightened and fled through the doggie door to a place held no one screaming or writhing, at least in the context of the rightful ownership of things that can and have been procured at a truck stop. 

And while she is not feeble by anyone’s definition, her friend is close enough to 80 to read over its shoulder, so it was with great exertion that she raced after Tootsie BooBoo to ensure that she would not be kidnapped by a hawk.  That she moved so quickly out front door caused great alarm in those involved in the imbroglio in the living room.  Well not enough for them to actually follow her and assist, but enough to give them pause for a moment or two before resuming previously mentioned activities.

Apparently her fear was valid as one of her previous teacup dogs, which I believe was a Poodle as it was named Poodle, was abruptly and involuntarily removed from her ownership by a hawk or a hawk-like creature.  Additionally, you don’t want your almost-octogenarian mother coming to fisticuffs with anything winged, unless it’s fried on a platter or in a bucket if you’re too lazy to cook.

I am happy to report that the lady and the dog are fine but the various family members, who had been otherwise occupied at the beginning of the story, met their karmic fates once they decided to help.  I won't get into details but I can report there were multiple falls into a single mud puddle, an accidental (we hope) mooning, the loss of someone's underwear (off their person or off the clothesline was not specified) and a back porch shower by water hose (due to the previously mentioned mud puddle).  As someone who has previous experience with mud (voluntary or otherwise) a back porch shower is embarrassing enough when you're 8 years-old.  I can only imagine it happening at 48.
So, they next time someone calls and you don’t want to talk, go ahead and answer your phone anyway.  Odds are the other person doesn’t want you to interrupt them as they instigated the call and obviously have something to say.  As you can see, some stories simply can’t be relayed properly in a text message.  And that is all I’m saying.

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