observations on life

Therapeutic Whining by Randee Huber

People keep suggesting I should write for a public venue.  So I’m trying a blog.  I really don’t know anything about blogs, but here I go.  Now for some therapeutic whining.

The other day I was remembering the last time I went to a mother-daughter breakfast with my mom and sister at my mom’s church.  Must have been the early 90s.  We arrive at the church fellowship hall–you know, the long tables are all set up in rows, white paper tablecloths–and sit down in an available spot.  I haven’t had any coffee, because, well because it’s breakfast.  There will be coffee, right?  I wait.  No coffee.  Wait wait wait.  After about 20 minutes I said to my mom and sister, “I’m sorry, but if I don’t get coffee soon I’m pretty sure I’m going to start crying.”  Finally, we get coffee.  Weak, tasteless Norwegian coffee, but better than nothing.  Then they bring food.  I don’t remember the menu exactly, but it was something like overcooked scramble eggs, a grocery store muffin, and some canned fruit cocktail.  Yum.

While we’re eating, we’re being entertained by a woman playing the xylophone.  The mallets were dancing over the keys, playing such tunes as “M is for the Many Things She Gave Me,” etc.  The room was not large.  The xylophone was very loud.  Conversation was impossible.

When we had finished our meal and the music had stopped ringing in our ears, our entertainment for the event was a fashion show.  Presented by Sears.  I swear I’m not making this up.  By this time my sister and I have started to laugh.  Quietly.  Chokingly.  It was like being in a funny hell.  You know how excruciating it is to laugh when you’re not supposed to be laughing?  It seems to happen to me a lot.

Once it happened while I was at the Christmas concert that the South Dakota Symphony was playing. The South Dakota Symphony is an excellent orchestra, and they play in an acoustically perfect hall. But one year at their annual Christmas concert, I sat in the balcony, trying desperately not to wet my pants, while Ave Maria was played on a saw, with harp accompaniment. Not that it was played badly, but, what else is there to say? IT WAS A SAW.

And the funniest part was that the polite Sioux Falls audience sat there, all 900 or so, silently, reverently listening. No one laughed. There wasn’t so much as a snicker. I guess in South Dakota you can get away with anything as long as you present it in a concert hall. And people will take it seriously. Sometimes I can’t believe I live here.

Then there was my grandma’s funeral.  I loved my grandma more than words can say.  And I was genuinely devastated when she died. But her funeral was so hysterical I thought I might die, too.  I was choking to death trying not to laugh.

My mom and dad, sister and I were jammed into a tiny pew, shoulder to shoulder.  I was on the end by the wall.  The organist was right in front of us and looked like a stuffed sausage with a bad wig.  That was bad enough, but as long as I stared at the wall, and thought about things like vomit, I was able not to laugh.  Then the minister and his wife started to sing “Beyond the Sunset.”  It went on and on and on.  He sang the alto part in a little nasal voice, while the wife sang the tenor part.  It was soooo painful.  But I was doing OK, until I felt my sister’s shoulders start to shake.  She had started to laugh, and then what was I supposed to do?  I couldn’t help it.  I started too, and the near-choking began, and the two of us sat there shaking–the whole pew was shaking.  I knew my mother would be livid–mind you, my sister and I were in our late 30s at the time–but I couldn’t help myself.  Finally I searched through my purse for kleenex for us, in the hope that people would think we were crying.  So we sat there dabbing at our tears.  Of hilarity.

Afterwards, as we walked to the car, my mom, already in the vehicle, sat at the window looking at us and shaking her head.  Of course I immediately pointed to my sister and said “She started it.”   Some things never change.


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