September 24, 2004

dinner with the mcdimples

To celebrate my father's birthday, I headed out to NJ after work last night for a family dinner. As expected, there was good food, great wine and lots of laughs... mostly at my mother's expense.

My mom has a tendency to recap the week's headlines at the dinner table. If by chance one of us has not heard a certain news story (or even if we have), she proceeds to retell it. At length. And VERY dramatically. She doesn't mean to but when all is said and done, it sounds like she's telling a ghost story. Her eyes widen and she gets a serious look on her face and deepens her voice. All that's missing is the campfire, the flashlight under her chin and the "It was a dark and stormy night..." intro.

She also injects a lot of Scottish-isms into each story. Between that and her Vincent Price-like delivery, it's hard to keep a straight face. She finds it extremely disturbing that her daughters always have to stifle a giggle after she tells a tale of death and destruction. Example: "So the car came tearing down the road going like the hammers and the poor wee woman got knocked down." No one ever gets hit or run over by a car, according to my mother. They get knocked down. This amuses me. And in case you need a translation, "going like the hammers" is shorthand for "going like the hammers of Hell," which means going really fast. Apparently the Devil is a no-nonsense boss who abhors inefficiency. If you get sent Down There, you can expect to be assigned a hammer which you'll have to swiftly swing FOR ETERNITY. No slacking in Hell allowed EVER. Got it?

So last night the mother was using her spooky voice to tell us about some poor kid who was playing with a latex glove and ended up choking on it and dying. We were all in agreement about how tragic and senseless it was. Nothing funny about it. She then went on to lament that the child was alone so there was no one around to perform the "Hemlock Maneuver" on him.

And that's when the dam burst. We snickered and laughed. She got flustered, offered up a few other mangled pronunciations in exchange and then finally told us all to shut up. But even when trying to silence us, she doesn't possess the ability to slap us with an effective, piss-filled "SHADDAP!" As a soft-spoken Scottish woman, the best she can muster is a rather genteel-sounding "Accch, sshhusht you! Away and bury your head!" Which only makes us laugh harder. She just can't win.