Michigan’s unconventional communicationPublished 11:45am Saturday, June 25, 2011
Column: Pass the Hot Dish, by Alexandra Kloster
“There is no doubt that it is around the family and the home that all the greatest virtues…are created, strengthened and maintained.” — Winston Churchill
“All well-regulated families set apart an hour every morning for tea and bread and butter.” — Joseph Addison
This is more like it.
Richie: It’s awful. I never saw anything like it. Out there. It’s terrible.
Mr. C.: What’s terrible?
Richie: Fonzie’s motorcycle. It’s everywhere. It’s in the street, and it’s in the yard, and it’s in the flower garden, and there’s an exhaust pipe in the mailbox.
Mrs. C.: Somebody tried to mail Fonzie’s motorcycle?
I can relate to that family, especially their conversation. No, we don’t have The Fonz living upstairs, but it would be really cool if we did.
Two weeks ago I steered toward Michigan, and when my hands weren’t firmly on ten and two I was rubbing them together in anticipation of the strange tongues I would hear when I got there.
Below are some samples of what I mean. The framework is the middle hours of ordinary days. I offer no context, just words lacking guile, affectation or intent to impress, words that prove the old adage, “You can’t make this stuff up.”
Me: Somebody emptied the Soft Soap bottle, filled it with shampoo and put a label on it that says, “Pantene.”
Mom: I did that. I lost the shampoo bottle.
Me: Isn’t that a lot of effort for a five-dollar bottle of Pantene? Wait, you lost the…then how do you still have the shampoo?
Mom: Because now it’s in the Soft Soap bottle.
Me: I don’t get it.
Mom: You don’t need to.
Mom: I’m worn out.
Me: Why don’t relax for a while?
Daddy: Ducky, go find a nice murder trial on TV your mother would enjoy watching.
Me: pulling a bag from the back of the refrigerator
Mom: I’ve been looking all over for those!
Daddy: What is it?
Mom: Two six packs of tenderloin.
Daddy: How do you lose a dozen steaks in the refrigerator?
Mom: I think it’s better to know how to find them.
Me: I’m going for a walk.
Mom: Do you want to bring a cane with you?
Mom: In case you need to hit something.
Daddy: (talking to his brother) Remember in ‘34 when Pa boiled the head of that pike?
Me: Why would he do that?
Daddy: To look at the bones.
Mom: You can put a pig’s head back together just like new.
Me: Pig or Pike?
Daddy: Pike. Maybe a pig in Jamaica.
Me: I’m never going to understand this any better than I do right now, am I?
Me: (cleaning out freezer) Mom, what is in this bag that looks like cocaine mixed with instant mashed potato flakes?
Mom: I don’t think that’s what it is.
Me: Should I pitch it?
Mom: Why would you do that?
Mom: Those painters really $%@&%$ up the side of the house.
Me: MOTHER! Do you know what you just said?
Mom: No, but I stand by it.
Me: Is it a rule in this house that everybody says, “What?” and makes you repeat yourself before they’ll answer you?
Daddy: I’ve been wondering that for years, Ducky.
Mom: Don’t try to figure it out.
Mom: It’s too obvious.
Me: Mom those pork chops don’t smell right.
Mom: They’re fine.
Me: If you slapped one of those chops on a ouija board it would spell, “Call 911.” If pigs could fly those chops would crash land into the CDC. If a dog absconded with one he’d abandon it on the side of the road. Arnold on “Green Acres” would bury them in the family plot. Those chops are one putrid bite away from being Brian Williams’ lead story tonight. This is kind of super fun. Should I keep going?
Mom: Shut up, Ali
And that’s the way it is around here. Sometimes I visit people and I’m sad because it’s obvious somebody forgot to bring the funny, and funny makes even rotten a little less rotten. Like most, we are a heavily flawed bunch, but at least we know we’re going to laugh when we get together.
The other night my nieces said grace at the dinner table in unison. It was lovely. They sounded like those creepy twins in “The Shining.” Afterward, my nephew Frankie asked, “Are you two Catholic or the ‘Children of the Corn?’” Yep, that’s us. Somebody’s always cracking wise. Somebody’s always trying to mail Fonzie’s motorcycle.
Woodbury resident Alexandra Kloster appears each Sunday. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, and her blog is Radishes at Dawn at alexandrakloster.com.