Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Unimaginable Accomplishing the Unheard

Over Christmas, my Mother was telling this grand story about my Aunt J'Nelle being the Dean of Women at the most prestigious boarding school on the East Coast and how she was "removed" because she was caught buying beer one night while wearing a rain coat. Well, that was not quite the story. Yes, in the 1960s, my dear Aunt was the Dean of Women at a girl's boarding school in Virginia. And while, it was (and still is) very well thought of, I do not think the royal family sends their daughters there.

She was "seen" one evening by one of the professors purchasing beer off campus while dressed in a rain coat. The issue was more that of her attire than her purchase. And, her employment at the school was never threatened by that incident. Later, she left the school simply to get another degree (and most likely because being Dean of Women was a type of "employment" - something she shied away from most of her life, much to my grandparent's dismay.)

To say my mother has the flare for the dramatic is an understatement. Just as my father faithfully waited for the South to rise again, my mother pines for the old days of chivalry and calling cards, which is fairly ironic given she now prides herself on her independence - quite the conundrum. It is amazing that I managed to make it into this century without all that baggage (my love for Victorian silver aside). But I digress.

Whenever there is a lull in the conversation, my mother feels the need to fill it in with a story, that generally has just enough truths in it for my brother and I to vaguely identify the cast. However, once the tale starts to unfold, we are as rapt as everyone else, because rarely do we recognize the plot line, even when we are the main characters.

And, if we call her out on it, she gets irritated, so we have stopped commenting until the slight exaggeration becomes the ridiculous. Over time, we have just come to roll with the stories and only offer corrections when it is obvious that she has moved into another realm - that of the unimaginable about the unlikely accomplishing the unheard of. Then the madness needs to stop.

For example, she started a story (about my wedding) directed at my daughters, "You know that your mother had more bridesmaids in her wedding that they had ever had in the Presbyterian Church. In fact the ladies of the church were so upset about it that they went to the Deacons, but they were told," then her voice drops to a whisper, "that since we were a prominent family and your grandfather was a member of 'the medical' profession, that they were going to permit it. Then when they saw we had colored flowers in the church, well . . ."

Not only had she crossed the line of the absurd, the madness had to stop. "Mama, that is not true. First of all, I wouldn't call our family 'prominent', my friend, Linda got married in the same church the week before with the same size wedding party, I never remember 'colored flowers' being an issue, and I don't ever want to hear about Dad's being in the 'Medical Profession' again."

"Well, Linda's father was a surgeon, so I'm sure that explains everything. The ladies of the church were most upset over the affair." My brother chimed in, "Mama, I don't think the bridesmaids, the flowers, or Daddy's profession had anything to with it. If anything, it was the dancing bears and the three ring circus that caused the uproar."

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