Do any of you remember the children’s story about the pied piper of Hamlin? Well, it goes something like this:
The town of Hamlin is plagued with rats. The townspeople are at a loss about what to do. Then, right on time, a strange young man appears and announces that he can rid the town of the rats for one thousand dollars. The townspeople, though wealthy, do not want to pay his price and instead insult him by offering only fifty dollars. In response, the piper takes out his pipe and begins to play, drawing all the young children of the town out into the streets and away into the mountains, never to be seen again. The end.
Well, I’ve decided in the past few weeks that there must be an unpublished bit of that story – something explaining where the piper came from and how he learned his magical craft. So here is my version of the piper’s background:
The piper learned to play the flute in high school band and started to notice that strange things would happen when he played. Woodland creatures of all kinds would gather around to hear him play, and his classmates began to tease him about his band of furry friends. They never seemed to go away! So one day the piper left town with his flute and went off to make a living with his talent somewhere where people wouldn’t make fun of him. His brother, however, had the same talents, and instead of using them to rid towns of rats and other vermin, he used them to bring such things into places where they were not, and delighted in the fear and disgust of those he claimed to be helping. The evil brother spent his whole life filling homes and towns with rats and mice and then leaving the inhabitants to deal with their unwanted new residents.
Why is this untold part of the story important, you ask? Well, I seem to have married the evil brother.
The Mister has recently acquired a small collection of tiny felt mice – the kind you buy in the cat section at the pet store – and has been hiding them in cabinets, tying them to doorknobs, tucking them into beds and generally causing havoc in his mother’s life.
While I usually know about these things before they happen, I still claim innocence in the overall scheme. I, for one, don’t want to be thrown out on the street when his mother gets tired of finding little mice in her bed. But, the evil brother can’t seem to help himself, so I’m sure the strange appearances will continue.
Do you have any “evil brothers” in your household? What pranks have you pulled on your mother?
I’m going to commit one of the cardinal sins — I’m going to poke fun at my mother in law.
(Don’t worry. She knows and she’s ok with it.)
The mister and I have been hearing for at least a week about how excited the mother in law is to decorate her house for our Christmas arrival and prepare her Christmas brunch list. So when we get to her house Sunday afternoon, she wants us to come see her tree in the living room. We’re expecting an exceptional display, and the tree is beautiful! All lit up and covered in red ball ornaments, surrounded by glittering presents and gift bags bursting with colorful paper. It truly is impressive.
Partly because it’s only two and a half feet tall. On a step-stool.
Instead of reacting to our surprised stares, however, she rushed to show us the other piece of holiday joy in her house — a snowman on the computer room desk. Very festive. She just laughed at our expressions.
Her response to our teasing went something like this: “He’s (meaning the mister) out of the house! I don’t care anymore. When it’s time to take the tree down, I’ll put it in a trash bag and stuff it in the attic and be done! Voila!!” She was so excited, and it’s hard to keep teasing a woman who’s so joyful about a tree in a bag.
This is actually not an unusual exchange at my in-law’s house. It’s perfectly normal for us to sit in the computer room and debate the merits of the Elvis Presley ‘Blue Christmas’ version versus that of Porky Pig. (Which is what we’re doing at this very moment, as I’m writing this.) But you can’t help but love them. They even provide entertainment when they’re not around, as the mister and I had fun allowing people to believe Richard Geer was at our wedding (the father in law looks just like him. And I’m not exaggerating.)
So, I suppose the long story short is that I have been blessed with a wonderful in-law family. My biological family is wonderful too, don’t get me wrong I wouldn’t trade them for anything, but I think there is something to be said for having chosen a good in-law family. It just shows, more than anything else I can think of, that I truly do have good taste. 🙂
- The Tuesday before we arrived home for the holiday, a noise scarily like the shot of a .22 rifle echoed through the Middle Tennessee Bone and Joint Clinic where the mother in law works. She screamed like a banshee. Half her office thought she had been shot. Panic ensued. What was it? A wheelchair blowout. That same night, a waitress dropped an entire stack of dishes right beside our table at The Cheesecake Factory. The mother in law jumped two feet in the air. So she is officially cancer-free (thus the fancy celebratory dinner), but now probably has post-traumatic stress disorder.*
- While the mister and I were headed farther east on Friday, my aunt, cousin, brother and his girlfriend were driving through a safari adventure center and being half-eaten alive by cows and zebra (literally – the aunt’s happy to still have all her fingers!). Apparently you CAN fit an entire cow into an SUV!
- Later that night, the aunt, cousin and I were prowling through her attic for extra decorations while the rest of the family assembled a nine-foot tree below us in the living room. Little did we know the two spaces would soon become one. “Oh, look at the mess,” were the aunt’s first words as she sat on the attic rafters and stared through her new living room skylight – a hole directly above the ceiling fan and the mister’s head. Yes folks, you see it on TV, you hear about it happening to other people, but you never truly expect to see a human leg appear through a 12-foot ceiling. The attic side of this event was rather anti-climactic, I must admit, since all I saw was my aunt suddenly get a foot or two shorter. However the living room angle was surely much better, as the mister noticed the falling insulation and wondered why it was snowing.**
- At some point between our arrival at the grandparents’ house Friday and now, I have unfortunately realized my baby brother (he turned 19 this past summer) is interested in girls. I don’t know how far the interest goes and I never want to find out, but he, at any rate, has an official girlfriend. She’s a wonderfully sweet girl and spent several days here with the family over the holiday and I really do like her. But at the same time, it twists my brain into knots to think that the brother could have a real, growing-up relationship. It’s just not possible. In my mind my brother doesn’t know anything about girls and is not at all interested in ever finding out. It just isn’t going to happen. Period. The End. Yet, somehow, she was here, and they spent lots of time talking in a separate room from the family. I remember “talking” to the mister apart from the family, and I REFUSE to consider the brother being interested in anything remotely similar. (I can practically hear all four of our parents shuddering.) I suppose I’ll get used to this idea eventually (in, like, 30 years), but it’s made me realize that our house must be laid out so that all children must walk past our bedroom door to enter or leave their rooms. And that once they do start entering and leaving on their own, I’ll probably never sleep soundly again.
- Also, the mister’s truck is so loud that two of my grandparents’ nosy neighbors called up the hill to the house to ask who had come to visit and why the vehicle made so much noise.
And now for a selection of memorable quotations:
- “My GRE scores are going to take longer because of Thanksgiving. Thank you pilgrims and white people.” – the mister
- “You’re going to be the big king daddy rabbit of vets and he still won’t listen to you.” – the mother in law
- “He’s going to crap a whole busload of children.” – the mister
- “There are holes out here we could throw you into and they’d never find you again.” – the mother in law
- *strange noise comes from the kitchen at Chik-fil-a* “Are we ready to lea — I’m not entirely certain, but I’m pretty sure I just heard a goat.” – the mister
- *Sunday night* “What do you want for dinner?” – me
- “Nothing that clucks or gobbles. If it had wings at any point in time, I don’t want it.” – the mister
*I’m kidding. The mother in law is fine, I promise.
**The aunt is also fine. The ceiling is being repaired by a friend at no cost and the uncle finally remembered to ask if she was ok.