But we did go back to my little swamp town for a picnic at my parent's today as my sister and her husband and their daughter came from out of town (four hours, compared to our one and a half) and since we missed a couple of these get togethers last year I didn't want to miss this year.
Today was nice, I didn't have to leave early to get to a waitressing job so I could just relax and enjoy myself. A couple, who are really good friends of my parent's, was there (my dad, and the husband half of that couple, when combined, become the male equivalent of Lucy and Ethel! I kid you not), and it became every man for himself in the conversation department.
My brother in law loves auctions, and auctions that involve guns are even better because if there is anything that Lucy and Ethel (Dad and Friend) love; that would be auctions and guns.
My sister is into genealogy like nobody's business and was late for the picnic because she'd been to the local Hysterical (family humor) Society digging up more family history.
And she never comes back empty handed.
So while Sister read excerpts from articles she'd made copies of at the Hysterical Society, my mother espoused her views on the Apocalypse (her favorite subject), and Baby Girl relayed news about her latest sports related broken bones, my dad remarked that he was pretty sure that the Amish had probably sold a lot of homemade pies at the auction he, Ethel, and Brother In Law had attended.
I should have been suspicious of his comment, but right about then I started rooting through the refrigerator for one of the beers that Hans and I brought with us.
We ate (and ate) and I told everyone that I'd discovered that Vet Tech Girl (who was working and couldn't come to the picnic) has at least two rabbits. Remember, she lives below us in our duplex, and one day Hans spotted these precious creatures getting an airing on her small back deck. When I asked her about it, she was very nonchalant about the whole thing and announced that their names were Arthur and Mabel.
My dad then commented that he was positive that there hadn't been one Amish pie left over at the auction.
I eyed him suspiciously and went on with my story. Oh yes I told them, in addition to the two rabbits, there are at least four cats, and Duncan the Pit-Bull in Vet Tech Girl's apartment.
That's when Baby Girl piped up and said that a rumour was floating about involving Vet Tech Girl and a Hedge Hog.
I nearly choked but before I could reply, my dad said to no one in particular that he wouldn't be surprised if people were complaining because the Amish had run out of pies too early on at the auction.
I knew something was up because my dad is a man of few words and he was dwelling on this Amish pie thing for far too long. But before I could nail him on it, my mother stated that she hoped that Vet Tech Girl wasn't going to turn into one of those weird animal people which is like the pot calling the kettle black as my mother (for a hefty yearly fee) has a blood supply kept on sight for her hemophiliac doberman at the vet clinic (a clinic that I'm sure she's single handedly paid for by the way!) and she hoped for God's sake that those damned rabbits were fixed.
I told her not to worry and that just about every creature that goes into Vet Tech Girl's apartment comes out fixed. Everyone laughed and when my mother told Hans that he'd better be careful, he didn't get it, because he'd tuned my family out as soon as we got there and was working on a five star Soduko (I've told you he's smart) and absently replied "Oh, she doesn't let any one in her apartment."
Anyway I told everyone that Vet Tech Girl had once confided to me that neutering males is really very easy and it had occurred to her that with the proper instruments she could easily undertake this procedure in her apartment.
I instantly envisioned black out curtains at her windows and quiet midnight knocks at her door. After a quick exchange of money a hapless male would be lead to her newspaper covered kitchen table and before you knew it....
Thank God she was smart enough to know that this could get her into a bit of trouble and as far as I know, the neighborhood Toms are still safe.
Everyone laughed and my dad said that boy oh boy those Amish pies at the auction had sold like hot cakes.
I'm sure Dad was thrilled when Mom, who never listens to him anyway, and was ready to launch into a story about how the Chinese are going to knock the world off of its axis if they continue to build that damned wall, stopped short and suspiciously asked, "What pies?" Because even contemplating a pie made by anyone other than her (she is a fabulous baker) is tantamount to cheating.
"The pies at the sale", my dad announced very innocently. But I saw the same gleam in his eye that he had when he played board games with me and my sister when we were little and he cheated.
"You didn't buy some God Damned pie at that stupid auction, did you?" My mother asked. Buying a gun was one thing but buying a pie made by another woman was dangerous ground indeed.
"They were store bought weren't they?" I shouted triumphantly and I felt very smug because I knew I was right. Years ago a friend of mine had tried to impress some out of town company by taking them to Amish country for a very expensive, home made Amish meal and she'd been angry and embarrassed to discover that they had served grocery store pies. She knew this because this particular group of Amish were stupid enough to leave the plastic pie containers from the store right out in the open.
Dad took off his glasses and wiped his eyes, a sure fire sign that he was having a blast."I didn't buy any pies," he answered all innocent like. "Why would I do that?"
We all waited for him to continue.
Good old Lucy asked Ethel and my brother in law, "Did you two need to use the bathroom at the auction today?"
Both shook their heads no.
"I did." he announced with glee.
Now he had a captive audience.
"You know they still use outhouses don't you?" He stated the obvious because the Amish don't have flushing toilets as they don't use electric (except for their sheds which do have electric so they can use cell phones but don't get me started on that right now).
"Well, the outhouse at the auction was a big cement block building and there's a shelf that's created where the roof meets the blocks." At this point Dad's body was shaking with laughter. "I couldn't help but notice that the whole shelf around the entire building was lined with pies that the Amish ladies had left to cool."
We just stared.
"Inside the outhouse!" Dad shouted with laughter. "They put their pies inside the outhouse to cool!" Dad has the strangest sense of humor and he was almost in tears.
"You should have seen the flies!" He was laughing so hard he was almost lying across the kitchen table.
"You're kidding!" I was horrified, but I couldn't help laughing.
"No I'm not kidding, there were flies everywhere, and after I spent the day telling everyone they just had to buy one of those wonderful Amish pies, I know everyone of them got sold!"
"That's disgusting!" my mother said as she pushed Smoky (their transgender cat) who'd been napping, off of the kitchen table.
"It's true!" Dad gasped. "You should have seen people scrambling to buy them!"
My sister was still at her computer where she was busily tapping away and adding her latest finds from the Society. "Did you know," she asked my mother (and I have to assume she missed the whole outhouse commentary), "that I found your dad's (our grandfather's) wedding announcement in the Jamestown, New York papers, and it was made by the bride to be's grandmother and not her own parents?"
"Oh, Jesus Christ!" my mother exclaimed, "I'm not surprised! My mother's mother was a piece of work! My parents never should have gotten married and the fact that they did it on April Fool's Day was certainly an omen! Grandma (grandpa's mother) was furious at the announcement and she hated my mother's mother because she used to stick her tongue out at Grandma when they were little girls. It's no wonder we're all so screwed up. I remember the time..."
And so it goes.
Here is Smoky the transgender cat along with Kissy Pooh the cowardly doberman. Both are enjoying an afternoon nap in the sunporch.