16-Year-Old-Bread

March 30, 2012
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“It should feel like firm 16 year old breast.” These glorious words are spoken by my grandfather every time we make bread together. Now, my grandfather isn’t some creepy pervert, it’s how you know when the bread is done being kneaded. As we knead, we share stories about my families past, and our present. Stories have always been important to my family. Every time there is a family gathering, a story is shared. We share while camping, eating, baking, mourning, shopping, and traveling. Most times they are old stories; ones that I have heard before. But that doesn’t matter because every time they are told, you gather a new perspective about them. On the other hand, there are times when I get a new glimpse into my family’s past. These stories are like presents on Christmas Day. You come downstairs, unwrap it, and discover something amazing inside. The stories are always funny and quirky and weird and make you think, “Oh yeah, that sounds like her.” I could tell tons of stories here, but I’ll contain myself to just two of the best (and most appropriate).

Flashback to when ankles were considered sensual. My mother and all her siblings were camping. Being the wilderness, the bathrooms were somewhat primitive. They ran directly to the ocean. Being five, my uncle John was somewhat naive. Great set up, right? So here’s what went down. The five older siblings crafted a tale: when you sit down on the toilet seat, crabs will come from the ocean and bite you. Down there. Needless to say, Uncle John bought this hook, line, and sinker. He did not go the bathroom for three days. And on that faithful evening three days later, the cork in my uncle’s pants finally gave way. His reputation was not the only thing soiled that evening.

What can we learn from all this? Perhaps that even though my mother was the oldest and “most responsible”, she was in fact the most devious. The mastermind behind the entire event. This story changed my view of her. She was no longer this shy woman who sits in her little office hermitage. She is a “Godfather” in her own right.

On another occasion, closer to the present, my Aunt Tina and Uncle Charles decided that they needed a vacation. Being artists in L.A. was just too stressful and tiring for them. In a heartbeat they found just the most darling B & B to stay in. The B & B was wonderful, with breakfast every morning. On their first day there, my aunt and uncle went down to eat. In the dining room lay a long table, around which lay benches for sitting. Aunt Tina and Uncle Charles began to introduce themselves to the other guests. It turns out that they were sitting next to a wine-making couple! How exciting. The old man in the couple spun off into a long discussion about his new, alternate passion, raisins. Absolutely fascinated, my aunt and uncle tuned in for the entire conversation. As breakfast was dieing down, a long rumble vibrated through the bench. All conversation halted. The old man had farted. But Aunt Tina had a faulty hearing aid and had trouble hearing certain frequencies. So with a blissful smile on her face, and complete silence in the room, she said, “Good luck with the raisins!” Uncle Charles was mortified to say the least. Grabbing Aunt Tina by the arm, he dashed upstairs and hid. They waited for hours to ensure that no one would be in the dining room when they departed.

To me, my aunt was always this beautifully strange individual. She and my Uncle Charles were my only relatives who decided not to have children. And as a child this made me a bit confused and scared of them. But I finally grew out of that state. And boy am I glad that I did. This story made up for those years of perplexion. She was no longer an untouchable figure; Aunt Tina was suddenly this funny, artistic, comedic genius!

The best lesson that I learn from all of these stories is that the past needs to be shared. Whether it is for comedic value, or sentimental, or an attempt to preserve the past, listening to those older than you is always educational. But as you could hopefully see, it doesn’t have to be boring.





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