Updates from almost two weeks:
A family matter last Tuesday morning found me in south Alabama and rendered my dad TICKED OFF. As I was leaving the hospital, my mother insisted that I "come by the house and look at this desk." Translated, "I just had the spare bedroom painted, and I need you to help move furniture."
My OCD sister and I moved a dresser and desk back and forth as if they were chess pawns. In that same bedroom were several cardboard boxes with unorganized piles of photos. "Go through these boxes and get anything you want. I want this room cleaned up and the furniture where it belongs."
Beneath the unopened Sears bills from 1995, my grandmother's death certificate and Polaroids of people I've never seen in my life (Who is this?; I don't know. Some couple we met while on vacation) were piles and piles of priceless family photos. Maybe I'll scan them one day and display them here for you. Seeing, as they say, is believing.
I found a high-quality Polaroid of my mother standing alone in front of a banana tree. The handwritten caption read, "Banana Orchard."
"Forget the bananas — my GOSH, whose shorts are you wearing?"
She moved the photo forward and backward in front of her face.
"Well, I guess they were MY shorts."
My mother was and still is a thin person. But this picture looked like someone had a primitive version of Photoshop in 1974 and played a dirty trick. "Those are the oddest shorts I've ever seen. They're cutting you in half, yet the waist is pulled high, like Tweedle Dee. Why is your shirt tucked in? And what's with the belt? What year was this taken?"
Another shot featured her in the requisite navy and white sweater set and sucking on a Certs while standing in front of a palm tree.
"What about this scene made you think it would translate into a good picture? Exactly what memory were you trying to capture? The tree? The sunshine?"
"Oh, just give me the $@*^ picture."
To heck with Creative Memories; shuffling through a large cardboard box and making up stories was much more fun than revisiting what actually happened 30 years ago.
When you are a grown person and visit your parents' house only once or twice a year, you tend to return home with more than you took with you. In this most recent case, my stash includes the following:
* My ex-sister-in-law's prom picture.
* Several photos of me (circa 1971, 1973, 1977, etc.) sitting on a cannon in Williamsburg. We're big Williamsburg fans.
* Evidence that my family probably would have never made the cover of The Alabama Baptist newsletter. Case in point: A wide shot of my brother and me on the lawn of the Anheuser-Busch plant in Virginia. We are 3 and 7 years old.
* A .38 Smith & Wesson.
* My California Achievement Test scores from 1982.
Holiday Movies ... As we approach the holidays, it's time to break out the VHS favorites. If you don't have VHS favorites, I'll share one of mine. It's a good one.
Home for the Holidays (1995) is considered too dark for some to be a part of the holiday movie library. But for the thousands of normal people who see the holidays as an opportunity to be a little cynical and who don't try to be all Norman Rockwellish about Thanksgiving, this is a holiday classic. Our VHS copy is sadly worn and well-loved. I can't lend it to you, but I can guide you toward Amazon, which has used copies beginning at $1.79. Directed by Jodie Foster, Home for the Holidays stars Holly Hunter, Anne Bancroft, Charles Durning, Dylan McDermott and Robert Downey Jr.
Downey used to depress me to no end during the '80s (anyone recall Less Than Zero?), and his character in this movie is typical of the roles he once played. But he is oh-so-quotable. (A couple of my kids have heard "Sad Sack Terziak" all their lives, and they repeat it and don't know why.) And in my parallel childhood universe, Holly Hunter was my big sister. We shared a room with twin canopy beds, and she listened to me and told me about her dates and had my back when kids were mean to me. Gosh, I love Holly Hunter.
So, the Monday Morning Buffet is surprisingly lean today. Times are hard. We can't just stand here and prepare made-to-order omelets for EVERYone. Scrambled eggs will have to do.
But I will tell you that we have, under construction, an expansion project in the works. Book lovers in particular may find it useful and maybe even entertaining. It will be located in the blogosphere, just to the left of the lobby and wedged somewhere between the buffet and the concierge desk. And like everything else around here, admission will be free. But you can always tip, if you want.
More details to come ...