Family stories – Part One
I’ve always threatened to write a story about my family because (1) I think they are so darned funny and (2) they are all crazy! I thought I’d post some of my bits and pieces here. If I ever win the lottery or become so independently wealthy that I can sit around all day and write, I’ll try and finish the damn thing. I will warn you–my relatives have never met a four-letter word they didn’t like! However for now, this will have to do…
The Hills are Alive
One summer, my cousin Lawrie made her dream trip, traveling to Vermont and the home of the VonTrapp family. Long had she dreamed of making the trek. Chaucer had his Canterbury pilgrimage; Lawrie had her Sound of Music dream. Much of our September cousin weekend that year was spent hearing about ‘the trip.’
“My God,” Aunt Ann said, opening a beer. “We drove for hours listening to that stupid soundtrack over and over. Finally, we get there and Lawrie flings open the door and starts spinning in the yard before she takes off skipping down some hill.”
“I thought the hill was in Austria,” I added.
“It was, but there was a hill there too. Tell her what daddy said,” Lawrie interjected laughing.
“He looks at me,” Ann continues, “and says, ‘Jesus Christ, Ann, can’t you get her back in the car. I’ve had about enough of this shit.’”
“It was great,” Lawrie beamed, “and look what I brought.” With a grand flourish, she produces the Sound of Music CD and pops it into the player.
And with that, cousin weekend history is made, a new tradition forged. We’ve replayed the songs over and over, each year adding more. Sometimes we don costumes (towels on our heads as we sing “How do we solve a problem like Maria” nun-style), sometimes we choreograph the numbers (during “The Lonely Goatherd” the aunts fall to their knees and pretend to be yodeling puppets, while the cousins are the VonTrapp children pulling the strings), sometimes we act out particular scenes (Lawrie as Maria singing “My Favorite Things” with a blanket over her lap while the rest of us gather around her like children frightened by a storm).
The tribute usually ends with our grand finale piece, “Do, Re, Mi.” There was some contention one year, however, over who got the “Do” part. Typically, it fell to Katie, but that year, Susan had made the long drive from North Carolina to attend our special weekend. There was some confusion in the initial line-up and Susan got the cherished role instead.
“What the hell was that about?” Katie complained the next morning.
“What?” I asked.
“Do, Re, Mi,” she answered shortly, clearly thinking that explained it all.
“Yeah?” I prodded.
“I’m always Do,” she added.
“But you weren’t Do last night,” I replied, still not cottoning on.
“That’s right,” she said, “Susan comes up here one time and takes Do. What the hell is that about? I’m always Do, alll-waaaaays,” she added, dragging out the last word.
“Well,” I replied, trying to be the peacemaker, “she did drive a long way.”
“Fuck that,” my cousin Mary Ryan interjected, clearly hung over.
“And you know what I got,” Katie continued, gaining momentum at this sudden show of support, “La. What the fuck is La? Nothing, nothing but a note to follow So. What can you do with that?”
“That is a rough one,” Lawrie conceded.
“Oh, yeah, Lawrie, like you gotta worry about that,” Mary Ryan said, “you’re always fucking Maria.”
“I’ve been to Vermont,” Lawrie replied, “I’ve run down the hill, for God’s sake.”
“The hill is in Austria, Lawrie,” I said.
“If I’m not Do next time, I’m not coming back,” Katie added, clearly not finished making her case. “New rule, nobody gets stuck with La more than once. La sucks.”
Good rule. We all agree.