Friday, July 08, 2016

Tragedies

On Sunday we were chatting about Miriam's newfound fascination with sticking bugs in her mouth when Grandma told us a story about how when Grandpa Frank was a boy he left a glass of orange juice sitting on the counter for a while and when he returned to drink it found that it had been infiltrated by ants. Only he didn't find out about the ant part until his mouth and throat were full of them and they started biting him all over.

The kids thought this story was hilarious, so hilarious, in fact, that they brought it up while we were video calling with my parents later on. Stymied by fits of laughter, the girls managed to tell the story, picking up the narrative wherever the other would take a break to laugh or breathe.

This story of Grandpa Frank reminded me of a story about my Grandpa Conrad, who one day came in from working in the fields to find a tall glass of lemonade sitting on the kitchen counter.

"How nice!" he thought. "Pearl made up some lemonade for me."

And he chugged that lemonade, but found that instead of refreshing it was revolting. As it turns out, they were running low on water (they had potable water brought to the farm on a truck) so my grandma had saved the dishwater to use again later! My grandpa had noticed the floaties and things when he glanced at it but figured it was just pulp. So gross!

After my mom and I had finished telling that story, Benjamin jumped in with his version of Grandpa Frank's story.

"Once Grandpa Frank left orange juice on the counter for three days and some super bad bugs got in it—TICKS!" he said. "And he drank it and the ticks bit him and then...HE DIED!"


A few minutes later Benjamin had to tell the story again, changing a few of the details. A few minutes later he told it again and changed some more details. This went on through our entire conversation with my parents. Benjamin would raise his hand and tell a story using this same formula. By the time we said goodbye his story was this: "Once there were some penguins that drank cement. And then...THEY DIED!"

At dinner tonight we were talking about something (I don't remember what) and someone mentioned Burr and thought they said Bernie...or someone mentioned Bernie and thought they said Burr. Either way we entered into a very...interesting...conversation about present day politics and The Revolutionary War.

Benjamin heard someone say the word old and said, "President Obama is old. President Obama is 84."

"No, he's not," Andrew said.

"Well, how old is he?" Benjamin wanted to know.

Andrew looked it up and informed us that he was born in 1961. "So he's a year younger than Grandpa. That's the easiest reference point."

"How old is Grandpa?" Rachel asked.

"He was born in 1960," Andrew said. "So in 2010 he was 50 and in 2000 he was 40 and in 1990 he was 30..."

"And in 2008...HE DIED!" Benjamin said and then swung his fork around in the air as he sang out, "Dun-dun-DUN!"

This boy thinks that every good story ends in death.

(When we told Grandpa this (through Facebook; that totally counts as telling) he said, "Hey, I'm not dead yet. 'Tis only a flesh wound...")

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