Life has such strange coincidences sometimes.
Last Sunday evening, I was in the mood to eat out and strolled over to a nearby restaurant to have an early dinner. Afterward, I sat on a brick wall to soak up some sunshine, which was welcome after what has felt like the world’s longest winter EVER in the DC metro area.
A woman sitting next to me had a golden-brown labradoodle with a friendly face, and I admired the dog and held out my hand so that the dog could sniff it. I happened to be wearing my college sweatshirt and the woman remarked on it. We got into conversation and it turned out that she not only went to the same college, she knows my sib. If I hadn’t noticed the dog, if we hadn’t been there on that wall at the same time or I hadn’t been wearing my sweatshirt, we would never have learned that we had those two links (college and sib) in common.
It got me thinking about families and the unique nicknames, phrases and words that families develop over the course of a lifetime. I love the phrase my sib developed to describe when a small child feels clingy and starts wailing unless held by someone else; it’s called “having a Velcro day”. My other sib had a funny name for the plastic mat put underneath a high chair to protect the floor area underneath the chair from stains and spills created by a child spilling food or drink; the name for it was “splat mat”. (Rather appropriate, don’t you think?)
Then there was my great-uncle, V, up in the Shenandoah Valley. He didn’t get out much so he loved to call up other members of the family and ask, “What’s going on?” Uncle V would talk, and talk, and talk….and would often call right at dinnertime just as we sat down around the kitchen table. His timing was impeccable. To this day, my sib and I still have a joke about “pulling an Uncle V” and calling someone up to yak for a long time.
When there’s company and a guest asks what’s for dinner, I like to say: “Roast beast and smashed potatoes!” (Sorry, vegetarians, I had to get that in. I couldn’t resist.)
We like to tease each other in my clan. I tend to mess with my younger cousins’ minds. During a family get-together, we’ll all line up to get food from long tables and I’ll usually have a conversation that goes like this:
Young Cousin: (peering curiously into a crockpot, then looking up at me) What’s that?
Me: (checking out the contents, which are Aunt M’s cabbage rolls) Oh, that? It’s stewed roadkill. Want some?
My younger cousin then favors me with one of those skeptical looks, the I-don’t-think-I-believe-you-but-I’m-not-willing-to-risk-being-wrong look, which makes me crack up in laughter. After I finish giggling, I relent and explain what the food is.
Ah, families — a never-ending source of fun and entertainment. Many works of fiction have been written about them and their interactions, but the ones I enjoy the most show that the family members really love each other through their teasing of one another.
Blog readers: Got any words or phrases unique to your family?