In Daddy’s Day – Uncle Joe, the Seed, and Subsequent Events
So, it’s time for another guest post by my dad, Tom. Last week, he introduced us to his Uncle Joe, who was apparently very hairy and very full of mischief. Where he left off, my dad was knuckle deep in Uncle Joe’s back hair. And Uncle Joe was planting a seed in Daddy’s eight-year-old head…
For those of you who are looking in on this little piece of Michelle’s blog for the first time, what you are about to read may not make a lot of sense. It’s part two of a story started last week, Uncle Joe and the Nun. If you get a little bit lost toward the end, just refer back to last week’s episode.
I was a little bit long winded last time, so we’ll skip a bunch of stuff and move the calendar ahead a full eight months. We are now back home, and witnessing a war of wills between my mother and my father.
Well, to make a long story interesting, we’ll start when my father visited a friend of his from work, Joe Marconi. Now, Joe Marconi was a person whom my father, and all his fellow workers, held in the highest regard. While on this visitation, my father greatly admired some wicker furniture that Joe had acquired just two months earlier from a Sears and Roebuck catalog. Upon arrival back home my father informed my mother of his discovery and suggested that she consult her own Sears and Roebuck catalog with an eye toward purchase, if the product proved to still be available. Of this he had doubts, because wicker must surely be popular since Joe Marconi had bought some himself. She nodded agreeably, and accepted the catalog. As it so happened, my mother was categorically prejudiced against wicker, but decided to secret this information from my father. She reasoned that she needed time to formulate an appropriate rebuttal to his proposal, should it be required. Many times my father would set upon an idea, only to abandon it at a later time, but, in the event he should revisit this particular issue, she had determined to be prepared.
That day came in the early spring of 1956. I still had not turned nine, which has nothing to do with the story but seemed important to me at the time. My Father made the first move by placing a brand new Sears and Roebuck Spring Catalog right in front of her face. The catalog was open to an admirable selection of wicker furniture. He then took a seat at the kitchen table, almost right beside her, crossed his legs, lit a cigarette, and waited. After having spent a respectable amount of time studying the catalog with a feigned look of interest on her face, which I personally didn’t think she pulled off, she informed my father that her preference did not lie toward wicker. After an energetic discussion not suitable for print, there appeared to be no resolution in sight. My mother decided it was time to embark on her well planned rebuttal.
Mama, a stout woman, got up from the table, went into her bedroom, and reappeared presently, adorned in a brand new pastel colored muumuu. She took pleasure in the fact that she had bought the muumuu from that very same Sears and Roebuck, not the catalog, but the store. She had sized it to reach completely to the floor.
For those of you who are a bit younger, let me try to explain this garment. A muumuu was usually made of cotton cloth, a lot of cotton cloth; it was kind of a cross between a sun dress and a tent. Everyone of the day knew that nobody but big people wore this particular arrangement of fabric. The true beauty of a muumuu was that as a woman spread, the muumuu spread with her. They all start as a long, graceful, flowing garment, usually hanging down to the ankles and, universally, are not retired until they, hovering on the wearer, resemble something akin to a mini-skirt. So, if your wife, or girlfriend, or mother bought a muumuu, you knew that there was a general expansion coming. It was also widely accepted as the preferred garment for women who had given up.
The plan was simple but ingenious. Everyone, even my father, knew that the wicker produced in those days, and fat people, didn’t mingle; the wicker just couldn’t stand the stress loads.
She had shown her hand, and now he fully understood what she was willing to do. Her formal rebuttal was now apparent.
And thus the stage was set; all the characters were there, my mother, my father, my brother and me. Within 20 minutes it started.
My mother, fully cloaked in her new muumuu, got up from her sturdy chair to get something (more cookies I suppose) when, there, right there, directly in front of me, I beheld that thing that I had both fantasized about and most feared for the past eight full months. Before me I beheld what seemed to be, at least, a full half yard of good cotton fabric, clutched tightly in the grip of my mother’s ample buttocks.
Yep! You’re right! But I had to.
Without, what I now realize, was proper thought, or adequate preparation, I reached up, and with one firm yank, relieved that piece of cloth from the grip that bound it! My mother whirled around with such speed and agility that, even today, I can remember the breeze.
They say that in a time of great fear or impending death, time seems to slow down. This is a fact that I am now in a position to verify. As things slowed to a death march, I was surprised to see my brother’s face, staring directly at me as he peeked from behind my mother. It was not until that very moment did I realize, that although my brother had managed to avoid my Uncle Joe’s itchy back, he had heard, and understood, every word of the story as it was conveyed to me. With a grimace on his face, and a final nod of acknowledgement, I watched my brother’s head disappear. As I saw my mother’s back arch, watched her head tilt back, her eyes and mouth open wide, and heard her utter a plaintive screech of ooaahhhahaha, I knew my brother had fulfilled his kindred obligation.
You would think that just as my mother had whirled around on me, she would now do the same toward my brother, him, at the present time, being the principal offender. Not so! Apparently, in her highly agitated state, her peripheral vision, and any of the other senses that may have helped lead to the discovery that there was someone behind her, failed. I could tell by her beady, hunter eyes that her focus was clearly on me, and that she would not be dissuaded.
My mother was the most kind, loving, generous woman who ever walked the face of this earth. She truly had a spirit that lifted everyone around her. She was a rare jewel and a joy. But she had her tipping point, and when she reached it, she was prepared to get down, get dirty, and get to it. Whenever Mama found it necessary to conduct business on a street level, anything within arm’s reach could, and should, be considered a weapon. On this particular occasion there was an electric cord within easy grasp.
I raised my arms in an instinctive move, which, I learned much later watching CSI, left me with what is considered a defensive wound. The blow I received was much harder than I expected, and left me in doubt regarding my original decision to pull that rip cord. I sailed through the air, knocking over one chair, and nearly toppling the kitchen table as I scrambled to regain footing. It was then that I realized that the impact of the blow I just received might have been much less, had not the iron been still attached to the electric cord that my assailant had used. The next thought I had, well it was more than a thought, it was a revelation, was Uncle Joe. Uncle Joe had gotten me again. Oh, he didn’t know when or with whom, but he knew!
It was at this point that I heard my father let out a big belly laugh, which seemed so out of place that it caused both me and my mother to momentarily pause. My father, being the astute man that he was, had stumbled upon a way to get himself out of the position that he now found himself in. He understood he could not win the great 1956 wicker battle because of mother’s well planned strategy, but he had no desire to admit defeat. He saw his scape goats. Stepping between my mother and myself, his laughter turned to a scowl as he looked directly at me and declared that, “with such stupid and clumsy boys around maybe it is best if we don’t get the wicker.” Off the hook.
The sun came out, the birds started chirping, and the world regained order. My mother was happy; there would be no wicker. My father was happy; he had gotten out of the box canyon he had found himself in, and still managed to save face. My brother, as all can witness, clearly got off scott free. As for me, I was left with only a small mark, about 2 inches by 1 inch, still visible on my right forearm, which I will be happy to show you, if you should ever doubt any of my story.
Could it have turned out better? Well, I still remain convinced that the wound that I suffered might have been much less severe if the iron had not been hot.