Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Jesus Is Coming To Town

I was 9 years old when my grandmother told me that Jesus was going to be coming back on Christmas Eve.

My grandmother always seemed to have insider evangelical information, mainly stuff discovered from years of theological studies, but from time to time, bits of prophesy was acquired from late night infomercials as well.

Either way, I recall thinking 'who in their right minds proceeds to tell a nine year old something of this nature?' As if I would be elated, having already lived a good long life, sowed my wild oats, and come to the conclusion that I wanted the Lord to hurry up and take me out of this God forsaken place already...not so much. My days consisted mostly of tea parties and amusement parks, so the last thing I was looking forward to was being "raptured."

It was a few days before Christmas Eve and in the way misery loves company, also does shear panic and anxiety, so I decided to break the news to my 7 year old brother. Needless to say our holiday vacation didn't have that carefree air about it that it used to. When Christmas Eve finally arrived I remember my brother and I were on our best behavior, not wanting to bicker or fight, or use the restroom much for that matter...I mean who wants to be taken up mid-tinkle? The day proceeded to go by as usual and still no second coming. By this point the anticipation had consumed our every thought and we saw little purpose in leaving cookies & milk out for Santa or wasting time dreaming of sugarplums or the gifts that would never be opened.

My mother had decided to put us to bed at a cruel hour that night, around 8 o'clock, so that "Santa" could get an early jump on things. To her curiosity I passed up a night in my own cozy bed and instead chose to roll out my sleeping bag on my brother's floor. I figured this way when it happened I would know immediately, rather than risk being left behind, and not discovering this chilling fact until the next morning when I would wake up in a tinsle decorated ghost town.

Needless to say, these were the longest 4 hours of our entire lives. My brother and I were both glued to the clock, watching as final minute, after final minute ticked by. At this point I'll note that yes, it was a given that Christ worked according to Central Standard Time. We were small children and didn't realize he had other options. And then, finally, the moment had come. The clock read 11:59. It was J.C.'s last chance, and man, had he really drug this whole debacle out...but really, who can blame him, you only get to orchestrate a second coming once, right?

I don't think either of us took in one ounce of oxygen for that entire minute. And when the clock finally struck 12, and the blue started to leave our little faces I remember wondering how my grandmother must be feeling right at that same moment. Was she embarrassed by her miscalculation; was she up, feverishly writing Robert Tilton hate mail; had she perhaps simply shrugged it off and headed back to bed thinking 'oh well, maybe next year.' Did she even realize that she complete robbed her two precious little grandchildren of the joy of Christmas this year?

All I know is that we never told our mother, in fear that she wouldn't let us go over to grandma's house anymore, so obviously her positives must've outweighed her negatives.

By the way, that Christmas she gave me a bike and $200 dollars, which goes to show she had somewhat thought ahead and couldn't have been all that invested in this whole rapture on Christmas Eve idea. And years later when I asked about this landmark moment in my childhood, she laughed and told me she had just gone to sleep that night, same as any other, just as I suspected.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Cease and Desist

Anyone who knows my husband knows that he has many "adorable quirks" we'll call them. One of my favorites in particular I have lovingly coined his 'cease and desist maneuver.'

I was warned about it even before we were married by my sister-in-law. She was telling this story about a time when they were in Chicago on a subway together and suddenly she became incredibly ill. And before she knew what hit her she was actually vomiting all over the floor. In a dazed stupor she looked around, expecting to see her valiant, older brother rushing to her side, but he was no where to be found. As it turns out, the second she became sick, Abrahm took off, and was more than likely three cars down by the time she needed her hair held back.

It was not until years later that I was able to witness this seemingly involuntarily reaction first hand. We were enjoying a nice, sunny day at Herman Memorial park in Houston when we decided to stop and get some snow cones with our son. While in line I notice quite a few bees that were swarming the syrup bottles, and subsequently any guests who were taking away syrup soaked cones. Being the planner I am, I decided to stock up on a ridiculous amount of napkins before leaving the cart. I know, not very 'green' of me. Either way as we're walking along enjoying our snack I noticed a man in front of us pushing a baby stroller. He was fairly tall, wearing dark sunglasses, a black shirt and black athletic shorts. Suddenly he turns around and says "hey, let me have a napkin." I thought, 'wow, that's a bit forward, but ok, I know I did take more than my fair share,' and just as I went to extent my arm and offer him a portion of my stack I see his wife doing the same thing out of the corner of my eye. Immediately I realize what a public fool I've made of myself, obviously he was not talking to me, and as I turn to share my burden of embarrassment with Abrahm I notice he had grabbed our son's hand and they must've been a good 15 yards away already! Had he seen this man's wife, known precisely who he was talking to, and watched the whole train wreck take place without warning me?!?!? Needless to say I have my own involuntarily physical reactions to embarrassingly, hilarious moments like this one, and literally had to collapse on the ground in a seated position not to give way to my incontinence.

After a few more uneventful years past, I thought to myself perhaps he's been cured, perhaps those were just a few isolated incidents. Surely he would not ever do something like that again to his beloved wife and now the mother of three of his children by this point. But no, the truth was quickly revealed as we took our daughter to her very first outing at the movies.

We were sitting in packed row as Abrahm passed me a ridiculously large barrel of popcorn. I took a handful I passed it back but it was intercepted by our 2 year old daughter. After a few seconds of humoring her and allowing her to feel like a 'big girl' he mouthed to me that letting her hold the bucket, which was as big as she was, probably wasn't the best idea. I agreed and went to retrieve it. And just as I began to lower the bucket into my lap for some strange reason I thought I should uncross my legs at precisely the same moment. I swear, just like you see it happen on T.V. this barrel of popcorn went hurling into the air, making two to three full rotations before landing upside down on the woman's head in front of me.

Now as someone who makes an ass out of myself quite regularly, I have learned to appreciate certain moments in my life more than fear them. I immediately knew of ten people who I could relay this story to while they were drinking a beverage and liquid would literally spray out of their nose. Which any story teller knows is the pentacle of success when telling a funny story.

What made this whole scene even better was the woman had insanely curly hair and every time she thought she had retrieved all of the kernels, I had to hold back bursts of laughter and tell her there was still more debris left behind. I'm quite sure that she thought I either had a mental illness or I had done this on purpose, because certainly a decent human being would feel far too guilty to laugh at a time like this. But honestly, the root of all my joy came from the fact that I knew Abrahm was hopelessly, and completely trapped. Our row was filled to capacity and there was no swift escape in sight this time baby. The desisting had ceased...at least for now.

I'm sure before I give this speech again at our 50th wedding anniversary I will have had plenty more opportunities to scare off my wonderful husband and shame him endlessly into the sunset.

Funny story...

Have you ever been tipped over in a canoe?

After the first few moments of twisting and twirling in complete disbelief you come to the realization that you must now figure out which way is up.

What would you say if I told you I have discovered a figure of speech that evokes precisely this same emotion, minus the water?

Recently, while on an underground exploration of the Onondaga Caverns, our tour guild was asked why there was an outbound telephone, seemingly misplaced on one of the trails, to which she boisterously replied, "Funny story...last year a man actually had a heart attack down here and died..." Now eventually, yes, she did get to a small tid-bit of humor a few minutes into her story (nothing to write home about) but because of how she inappropriately began recounting the event I was practically bursting with laughter the whole entire time.

These two little words took a mildly amusing story from mediocre to full blown jocularity!

Now I've decided that I must start implementing this completely mind baffling phrase into my everyday announcements on a regular basis. Listen to how they spice things up:

"Funny story, I took a pregnancy test earlier today and you are not going to believe this..." or how about "Funny story, you know that rash that I thought was poison ivy..." or even, "Funny story, you know how I told you your dog ran away when you were 8 years old..." At this point, it helps if you also add some sort of whimsical knee slap or breathy laughter to make the amusement of said bad news more believable.

While you may simply be disguising something negative with a vail of optimism, perhaps by the time the devastating disclosure you've delivered sinks in our old pal "funny story" will just be a memory...or, at the very least, blacked out by trauma.

And while not all of our conversational companions may actually reach the top of the water, as not every "funny story" will have a punch line, we can at least hope that it will make the struggle for air a bit more entertaining.