Friday, January 29, 2010

Look What Fell off my Family Tree Friday - Setting the Stage


Last week I put out a challenge to the blogosphere to share with the world, under the semi-anonymous cover of my blog, the story of their family crazies. Thanks to their good nature and probable need to "let it all out", I have lined up four great bloggers to share their stories with you, each Friday in February.
I myself have a bountiful basket of nuts to choose from, but the soft spot in my heart is for my Uncle Ronnie. I have posted several stories about Uncle Ronnie that highlight his tendency toward "the crazy". However, I was/am no prize myself and my bachelor uncle was my constant companion and was thereby subjected to all of my mercurial behavior.
This story is less about Ronnies craziness than it is about my own Hurricane Hattie tendencies.
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Uncle Ronnie was the first and only person in our family to have a Polaroid camera. This caused quite the buzz of discussion the first Christmas that he brought it out. It was Christmas at my Grandmother's house, circa 1973. My mother had sewn us matching maxi dresses from a pretty purple fabric and we were both rockin our Florence Henderson shags. Sitting in my grandmother's yellow vinyl and chrome kitchen chairs, we looked like a 70's ad for stuffing mix. We were the modern American family!

The family was all milling about the downstairs rooms of my grandmother's house, placing presents under the tree, making drinks, talking and cooking. But Ronnie was nowhere to be found. I hopped out of my chair and ran up the stairs to see where he was and what he was doing. Just as I reached the top of the stairs, he emerged from his room with a flat black box on a string around his neck. I pointed and yelled "What is that?". That, he explained to me, was a Polaroid camera. And it makes instant pictures!


Instant pictures? I was immediately intrigued by this device. My best friend Debbie's mother made instant mashed potatoes all the time, but my mother refused to buy them, which really made me jealous. So the notion of something instant like this at my disposal, set all my nerve endings on fire. I HAD TO TRY IT!

Ronnie, being the pseudo-adult that he was, tried through his laughter at my excitement over this gadget, to give me the 'be careful', 'handle it gently' speech to me as I flew down the stairs, crashing it into the wall, the banister and assorted relatives on my descent. Ronnie followed closely behind in a vain attempt to protect his new toy.

He allowed me to snap a couple of the very limited number of pictures in the film pack (it had 10, maybe 12 per pack) and as I took each one, a long, strange looking black sheet shot out of the front of the camera. "Hold it by the edges! Don't touch the center! They have to be developed!" Ronnie yelled as he swiftly pulled the undeveloped pictures out of my hand. Then he lined my mother and I up for a quick pic of our matchy matchiness and went upstairs. I ran up the stairs behind him, barely able to contain my excitement.

Ronnie sat at his desk and pulled a black canister out of his Polaroid Camera bag. Then he opened the canister and dumped out what looked like a rolled up pink rag with a plastic handle on one side. He peeled away the top paper that sat on top of each photo, revealing what looked like. . . nothing. There was just a grey box inside the white frame of the picture. Then he took the strange pink rag and dragged it across the face of the photo and instructed me to watch. I stared holes in the picture until finally, the ghost of an image started to appear. I could just make out that it was my mother and I, standing side by side in our maxi dresses. I begged Ronnie to let me do the next one, but he showed unusual restraint and said no.

Not content to just stare at him while he did all the fun stuff, I proceeded to jump on the bed. Higher and higher I jumped, but Ronnie paid no mind. He was focused on the development of his pictures. Bounce, bounce, bounce, I went, with my black Mary Janes all over his bed. Then with a flourish, I attempted my dismount. Unfortunately, I played it too close to the bedpost as it caught my maxi dress and slit it up the back to reveal my yellow underpants. Ronnie barely noticed, but I knew I was in deep trouble.

Feeling the breeze at my behind and knowing that I had to face the music with my mother, I grabbed the picture of my mom and I and I ran downstairs like a flash. Then walking toward my mother, making sure to face forward and not reveal the back of my dress that was waving in the wind like a flag, I presented her with the photo. She oohed and aahed and talked about how bright the colors looked and how pretty our dresses were, then as I side stepped away from her, she caught sight of my hospital gown chic. As expected, she was livid and she gave me the full barrage of what a disaster I was, and how I shouldn't have anything nice and so on. What could I say? I was only seven and she was only right.

That was just the kind of kid I was. Reckless, tom-boyish, always scuffed and disheveled, despite my poor mother's best attempts. And the apple does not fall far from the tree. I spent the last half hour and an hour last night detangling my daughter's hair. After much combing, sleeping with a conditioner pack, and working with detangler spray, we finally got it smooth. And it looked beautiful when she left the house. But I know that when I see her later today, it will be a squirrel's nest of tangles. But I won't get mad. I can't. It's my DNA at work and that's not her fault. Perhaps my daughter and I owe my mom a long overdue spanking. . .

29 Your comments, banter and witty repartee:

That One Mom said...

What a great story!

It's amazing how a bit of reflection gives us so much insight into our own children. I know I fully deserve both of mine!

Amy said...

Long overdue spanking...I love it!

Also? Instant potatoes are banned from my house. It's a total travisty. My husband pointed them out once in the grocery and I swear I shot daggars out of my eyes at him!

At least your mom had the good sense to know that no nutrition lies in a box full of 'tators;)

Mommy Lisa said...

Cuter! I remember the first polaroid was my uncle tom's. They barely make those anymore.

singedwingangel said...

lmbo I can honestly say I have never jumped like tht on a bed and had a bad landing, but a few close calls. My mom ws the first to own apolaroid and I have scanned some of teh pics from her photo albums onto my puter.. I love the old pics

MiMi said...

That's a great story and sounds like something I would do. I bet your dismount was like a 10 though.

Lisa Page Rosenberg said...

I've got nothing but love for you and your stuffing-mix-ad family.

SPEAKING FROM THE CRIB said...

i remember our first polaroid too and my fav maxi dress - it was orange with an empire waist. i even wore that thing TO THE DOCTOR. mental patient that i was.

thanks for sharing

DG at Diary of a Mad Bathroom said...

That One Mom - In my most honest and reflective moments, I know that to be true.

Amy - I am totally spoiled and want only real taters these days. My mom was not into all the new foods of the 70's - Tang, Astronaut Bars, Instant Potatoes? Not happening.

Angel - I love the old polaroids too. Such a date stamped look associated with those photos.

Mommy Lisa - I think Polaroid has gone the way of the DoDo.

Mimi - It was a brilliant dismount, but my mom was not interested in my gymnastic prowess when she saw my butt hanging out.

LPR - Thanks! We were geek chic before it was cool.

SFTC - That sounds EXACTLY like the maxi dress that my Chrissy doll (the one with the growing hair) had. Jealous!

Monique-aka-Surferwife23 said...

You told that story perfectly!! I was sitting at my desk, covering my mouth to stifle my laughter at you jumping and dismounting.

Awesome.

linlah said...

Without ever having seem them I can see those dresses.

DG at Diary of a Mad Bathroom said...

Monique- Thanks. I had many injuries while my uncle wasn't watching.

Linlah - They were a butterick pattern with a capped puff sleeve.

blueviolet said...

I remember the early Polaroids but I don't remember having to wipe them down. I still have my Polaroid camera but I probably don't have film.

I HATE that film cameras are going by the wayside now.

I think you were cute with your enthusiasm!

DG at Diary of a Mad Bathroom said...

Blue Violet - One woman's cute is another man's annoying. Though I have to say, Ronnie was so good to me and never complained. He seemed to get a kick out of me for some reason.

Masala Chica said...

I love hospital chic. It's actually really in right now.

And gosh I miss polaroids. those were fantastically magical to me when I was a kid.

Now go spank mommy.

Kiran

DG at Diary of a Mad Bathroom said...

Kiran - Polaroids were SO awesome. Perfect for impatient, instant gratification kids like me.

Sara said...

I think I own a Polaroid camera... unless I sold it. Then I don't.

Glad you at least got a picture of you and your mom looking nice before you went about your business!

DG at Diary of a Mad Bathroom said...

Sara - That's it too. I wrecked stuff like it was my livelyhood to do so. You would think I got paid for all the ripped tights and scuffed shoes the way I went through them.

Existential Waitress said...

I love this story. I like the part about the apple not falling far from the tree. I constantly think that about my own kids, including my son's smart ass mouth a my daughter's fixation with headbands and clothes that sparkle. Great post.

DG at Diary of a Mad Bathroom said...

Existential Waitress - Thanks. It's true. They are reflections of us. Sometimes in ways we expect and sometimes in ways that we would never.

tori said...

I still have a polaroid. So you think kids now-a-days would even be impressed?
great (and well told) story! :)

DG at Diary of a Mad Bathroom said...

Tori - Really? Are you able to find film for it? Do you have to buy the film on e-bay. I am curious whether you can still use it.

Aunt Becky said...

That's a great story. Just love it.

DG at Diary of a Mad Bathroom said...

Aunt Becky - Thanks Auntie!

Tracie said...

I had a red maxi dress and I loved it so much. I wanted to wear it to church every Sunday. My shag didn't look so good - more like an elf.

Loved this story.

DG at Diary of a Mad Bathroom said...

Tracie - My mom rocked the shag better than Mrs Brady herself. I was at a toothless, awkward 7 year old stage, so me? Not so much.

miss jo said...

Really fabulous recollection. I love how you sprung the news about your shredded drawers to your matchy matchy mom...Of course Ronnie had the latest w/ the Polaroid ! I loved my maxi coat. :)

DG at Diary of a Mad Bathroom said...

Miss Jo - There were so many wonderful times with my crazy uncle Ronnie.

Susan Fobes said...

I personally hated the shag period. Did any of us look good in that haircut? It made me look like a Q-tip head!

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