FAMILY BLESSINGS OR FAMILY CURSES
T. Wieland Allen
Do not tell anyone about this, please. I won't swear you to secrecy, but please do not tell my kids about what I am about to tell you that I found in my house recently.
First let me tell you about My family. I come from a family who laughs at everything. It's a family tradition, most often resulting in being a blessing but a few times it's resulted in being a curse. We laugh heartily at everything, people falling down stairs, mistakes made by pastors or choirs in churches, and most of all our own silly mistakes. Instead of persecuting ourselves for obvious mishaps, we have the habit of laughing hilariously at ourselves.
I remember my dad being on a trip with his 82 year old professor friend who had stumbled over his own feet and then tumbled down an entire flight of concrete stairs at a state library years ago. My dad had marvelous restraint that time because he helped his elderly friend up, helped him to the car, drove him to their motel and helped the professor into his room. Then my dad entered his own room with dignity, but upon entering to his safe space Daddy fell on the motel bed in hysterical laughter for 15 minutes. It's just the way we are put together. Life is laughable to us.
I have been known to laugh at myself when nobody else is around to laugh with me or at me. I am subject to make mistakes when cooking because I am a highly goal oriented person and I try to accomplish three or four things at the same time. Years ago I was baking a cake from scratch -- you know, with multiple fresh ingredients -- and I reached into the cabinet for the vanilla, always the last addition to baked goods, but instead of getting the vanilla I grabbed the Liquid Smoke bottle instead and measured a teaspoon of it, pouring it into the freshly combined sugar, butter, flour, cocoa and other ingredients mixture. Suddenly I got a strong hankering for barbecue pork sandwiches. After letting the mixer do its job of combining the many ingredients, along with the liquid smoke, I realized that we were not having cake for dinner and laughed and laughed at my mistake. That unbaked cake batter ended up in the trash and I dashed to the store for some of their commercial cookies with the proper seasoning. Our guests for dinner that night found my story as funny as I did and they forgave me for having store bought cookies instead of my special moist chocolate cake.
In fact, just this week I reached in the fridge for a new bottle of vidalia onion and tomato salad dressing to put onto freshly cut home grown tomatoes for dinner but instead I grabbed a bottle of Head Country barbecue sauce. My daughter caught me just in time to avert a disaster. Ruining my son freshly picked home grown tomatoes by dousing them with barbecue sauce might not be a laughing matter to other people like it would have been to me.
My oldest sister was visiting us years ago when we lived in a two story house. She kind of pranced with dignity when walking, much like our mother. One day I was sitting in the living room just in time to see her turn from the first stair landing onto the second landing, missing the first stair, landing on her buttock and bouncing with dignity all the way down the ten carpeted stairs to the bottom. I couldn't resist. I laughed and laughed at her effort to be dignified, even in bouncing down each step on her rear end. Fortunately, she was not injured but I'm not sure that she ever forgave me for laughing so loudly at her less than dignified descending down the stairs into the living room.
Now to the current situation which caused me to laugh and laugh at myself which I ask you not to publicize to anyone that I know. Here's the scenario: My daughter and granddaughter came to my house for a five day visit. I cleaned and cleaned inside and outside of the house with meticulous efficiency, I thought. I moved things and swept under and behind most of them, I thought. I was really very proud of my clean house, I thought. My oldest son, his girlfriend and his two grown children came for several meals and we always gather in the den which is in the middle of the house. We moved a few chairs around to make sure everybody had a place to sit. I did not see any surprises during those five days. Thank God I didn't.
A few days later, after the family guests left for home, I was recuperating from a minor operation so I was sitting in my usual reclining chair in the aforementioned den with my arm elevated, per the doctor' instructions. My cell phone was almost out of power, so I went behind my chair to plug it in. Beside my chair my eyes landed on something that I had not seen while cleaning the room during the last week. Huh, I thought, what in the world are those two pieces of white fabric? They had not appeared into my range of sight while I was cleaning the room days earlier. I bent down carefully to pick up one of the pieces of white fabric and realized that it was one of a pair socks which had been hidden from view for who knows how long. It was so stiff it felt like it was petrified. I picked up the other sock and it was equally as petrified, stiff as a board. Upon quickly smelling the socks I realized that they were a pair of socks that I often remove from my feet after I mow the lawn and sit down in my recliner before I take a shower. There was an aroma of what used to be called lady's "glowing", but those socks were not lady's perspiration. They were petrified with just plain old SWEAT. Take my word for it, both socks were stiff. No telling how long they had been under the small side table which is loaded with books. I always move the two reclining chairs and the table between them to sweep, but rarely do I move the side table because of its weight. Yes, ma'am and yes, sir, the socks were practically petrified, they were so stiff. They weren't necessarily dirty. They were just two practically new white socks which stood straight up in the air when I held them up, petrified stiff with dried sweat.
How long did it take to stiffen the socks? As I said, only heaven knows. They could have been there a month or only a week, but long enough for them to dry completely and cause them to stiffen. I could bend them, but they didn't soften. They stayed right where they were bent. Now they are in the washing machine waiting for a full load so that they will be back to their normal clean, white, soft condition.
Being born into a family that laughs at everything is a wonderful family trait. It keeps people in the family young and vibrant. Both of my parents lived into their 90s, still laughing until the last breath. I don't remember either one of them ever having a good laugh at finding two petrified socks in their house a few days after their kids and grandkids left. If they ever did, I know they laughed about it. I can guarantee you something equally as bizarre happened to them and they laughed.
Maybe I should not use so much of my trusty orange scented house spray. Maybe if I didn't spray so often I could follow the scent of sweaty socks and find them under the side table before guests come to visit.
Thank God nobody acted like they were offended by a stinky aroma during the five days they visited. Oh, yeah, the socks were petrified and a person had to hold them close to the nose to notice the aroma of good old lawn mowing sweat. Fortunately they were new socks, so that was a plus.
I found out that good old fashioned sweat is a substitute for laundry starch. There is a minus to it. The aroma of the dried sweat keeps people away from you. If that's your desire, to escape from people, try socks petrified by dried sweat.
I trust you not to tell anyone in my family about my finding the petrified socks after they left to go home. Now that I am in my 80s they watch for any signs of dementia. They must never find out about the petrified socks. I want it to be our little secret. I will take it to the grave and I trust you to do the same.
Hope you got a laugh. After the laugh, shhhh ----- please don't tell anybody.