Archive for the ‘My brother Duncan’ Category

It was Duncan, in the maze, with the mallet……..When butlers are beaned, you’re Clueless

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010

By Tiber

We have  a big hedge maze out behind the house. You can legitimately get lost in it, which is why we often give people glasses and a bottle of wine. Might as well enjoy yourself while you’re waiting to be rescued. Of course, adding liquor to the mix, who knows what’s gone on behind those high “shrubbies,” as our gardener, Nestor, persists in calling them.

Some of my parents’ oldest friends, who know their way out of the maze, took some newer friends in for a look last night. And when they came back to the house, they said, “You’re getting us in the mood to play ‘Clue’ tonight, aren’t you?” – which made no sense to my parents.

It turned out they were referring to “who killed the butler, in the maze, with the croquet mallet.” Eventually, this was determined not to be “Clue” at all but instead, Brunty, our real butler, dead in the maze, from a croquet mallet. Thankfully, it turned out that Brunty was only beaned, in the maze, from a croquet mallet.

He’d been out there clearing away glasses from the night before, when a croquet mallet came flying over from the nearby croquet pitch and hit him on the head. He seems fine now but really, considering how he is normally, how can we be sure?

Plus, would the mallet-thrower strike again? No one knew who it was. Until captured, we were advised to just avoid the maze entirely.

Finally, it was discovered that our maid, Taffy, had seen my brother, Duncan, walking towards the croquet pitch last night, where she had then heard the simple sound of croquet balls hitting each other.

Taffy, however, in her usual special way, had decided that what she’d really heard was Duncan throwing artificial legs onto a pile to light them on fire. So she had moved along, not wanting to interrupt his mission.

Later, Duncan, who of course had only been playing croquet, had gotten frustrated with his game, and had thrown his mallet over the hedge where it ended up hitting Brunty in the maze. So the mystery was solved – except for the Taffy part.

I noticed something long ago. Other people don’t seem to live in houses like ours, where residents will, with only an ounce of information, leap to conclusions like this one where, it was believed that a family member, after having had a long and particularly busy day, had decided that out of all the ways in the world to chill, the best choice would be to construct an artificial leg pyre in the dead of night on a croquet pitch.

There is a bright side, I guess. The members of our household who so often book non-stop flights to Crazy Town are happy there.

Once Taffy had “figured out” what Duncan was doing, she had just nodded at his having his own enjoyable time and serenely went off to bed.

The LitterAce Man

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

By Tiber

Since Dad decreed that everyone in the family now has to get a job (and no one can actually do anything), my brother Duncan has managed to come up with some work  for our younger brother Kru.

Duncan happened to notice our cat, Paracelsus, heading for his cat box. And inspiration struck. Duncan got to thinking about cat sand being heavy. What a nuisance it must be, especially for women, to have to keep buying it and toting it home. Somebody should start a service that delivers cat litter directly to your door. The service could even haul the used cat sand away! Duncan ran the idea by Kru and The LitterAce Man was born.

Kru has a friend whose father loaned him an old truck that had hauled who-knows-what in its original life. But it has a handy spigot in back that allows cat sand, bought cheaply in bulk, to be poured out into any size bag requested.

And the customers have appeared. It’s hard work, toting all of that sand into homes all day long but Kru, by far the fittest of us all, has really taken to this job. And according to him, the women on his route have really taken to him.

Kru thinks there must be some sort of attraction hardwired in females, about seeing a guy lugging something heavy over his shoulder – you know, like a prehistoric alpha male hoisting a dead sabre-tooth tiger back home to the cave. I reminded Kru that he was just a guy toting dead kitty litter back to the utility room.

 “Hey, the hormones released are the same!” he snapped.

He may have a point. To be truthful, I laughed out loud when I first heard about this job. But now, suddenly, women are asking Kru if he might want to stay on for awhile and have a cup of coffee. I’m the one sitting here with the cute cat but Kru, armed only with the cat sand, may soon be getting a lot more than a sandwich.

Duncan’s “I Can Live With That” Dating Service

Friday, April 23rd, 2010

By Tiber

I’ve never given my brother, Duncan, much credit for good ideas because, well, let’s face it, he’s never had any. Now that everybody around here has to bring in some income, though, Duncan and his wife may have come up with one of the best ideas of all.

They’re going to start a dating service. I know, big deal. But this one is different.

The idea probably comes from their own bad experiences in the dating world. We never thought a human female existed on the planet who would marry Duncan. But one did. And now that we know her too, I’m sure she caused the horrified flight of just as many dates as he did. So I guess, maybe it lodged in their minds that it would be better if people knew beforehand what they were getting into.

Therefore, their new dating service is going to be called, “I Can LIve With That.”

Instead of matching up your good qualities, this service tells you up front, all of the other person’s worst traits. And really, isn’t it more important to know that the other person accidentally keeps answering the door naked, instead of whether or not you both collect porcelain pigs? Then, you can make the call.

“Can I live with that?”

Background checks will be conducted, of course, to make sure that it’s all listed. She shop-lifted but never burglarized. He shot the sheriff but he did not shoot the deputy. That sort of thing.

Mix and match! Nail-biting, check-kiting, friend-spiting, bar-fighting, yeti-sighting – I can live with one, two, three, four, five, all or none of the above.

Because what good relationships are about, really, is whether your levels of tolerance match. One person can marry an ax murderer while another will divorce you if you burp.

For me? Okay, if I got a “knuckle-cracking, weight-worrier who parks in handicapped spaces.” Pass.

But if I found a “She watches too much tv, was once arrested, for mooning a politician and laughs so hard that milk comes out of her nose,”…well,

I can live with that.

Lights out, ghost in

Monday, February 8th, 2010


By Tiber

The storm came in and our power went out. You really don’t want to be in a house this big when the lights go off. We stumbled around and finally met up in Dad’s study.

The triplets fell asleep and then somebody had the brilliant idea to play “Truth or Dare” to pass the time. Note to the wise. Do not play “Truth or Dare” with your family. While funny or titillating with your friends, “Truth or Dare” with your family just becomes a litany of “Wo!” “Eeeeeeeeeew,” or “Oh, dear God, please don’t say any more or I’m going to hurl.”

Then, suddenly, the lights flickered on for a moment, and the little elevator by the main stairs was heard starting up on its own. Somebody said it was our house ghost, coming down to get us. But Duncan thought it might be going up.

“Why would it be leaving?”

“Have you been listening to our conversation for the past half hour?!?”

So the talk turned to our finding the little pirate treasure chest hidden in the house this week, with the human hand bones in front of it. Dad has decided that the chest probably didn’t belong to a relative or even to a female pirate after all, as he’d thought. It must have come from an earlier time from when the house was built in the 1860’s.

So why had people kept on moving the chest and hiding it in safe places instead of selling the contents themselves? Erin said maybe they were afraid of the ghost of the original pirate owner. It would then make sense that our house ghost was that original pirate, still attached to his treasure.

Plus, Mom reminded us that when the ghost hunters came here, they picked up on tape an unknown voice saying the word “accordion” and those little accordions used to be played onboard sailing ships.

Duncan put it all together.

“So our pirate ghost was the one who sliced off the hand of the one dude who tried to take his treasure!  Hey, Dad, remember when the ghost hunters said they’d heard the word “accordion” and you said you were damned if you were going to buy anybody an accordion, living or dead!”

Dad leaped in.

“No I didn’t!”

“Yes, you did!”

“No, I didn’t!!! I told the ghost I’d buy it anything it wanted! Accordion, keyboards, a trumpet-”

“No, you didn-”

Even in the dark, you could hear Dad going after Duncan to shut him up before the ghost heard any more. Nobody felt like going back upstairs then.

In the morning, Mrs. Brunty, the housekeeper, found us all, still in Dad’s study, asleep on the sofa, the chairs, the floor. She said we looked like a sweet litter of puppies.

Seriously? “A sweet litter of puppies?!?”
I’m not surprised about the dog part. That we have been called. I was just surprised that anybody would ever call us sweet.

One may be the loneliest number but three can freak you out

Saturday, January 30th, 2010

By Tiber

I haven’t written too much about my brother’s triplets yet. There are times when you save the best for later. This is not one of those times.

Of course, to be fair, it’s not the kids’ fault. They’re only ten and they have my brother for a father. Plus, they have Duncan’s wife, Honor, for a mother, which is a whole other story.

Still, the triplets can best be described as the two little girls from “The Shining” with Damien thrown in as their wingman.

They’re not even the normal kind of triplets, from three eggs or where one egg splits three ways. The two girls are identical twins, coming from one egg that split. And the boy came from his own egg, fertilized at the same time.

The first song that Duncan ever taught his son was that old Beatles’ tune, “I am the egg man, koo-koo-ka choo.”  You have never truly experienced the full meaning of creepy until you have had a very small, unblinking person tonelessly sing this at you.

The triplets’ birth was not easy. Honor was kind of out of it after their arrival, which I’m sure she had every right to be. But it left Duncan on his own and he went ahead without her and named the babies himself. They already had some other names in mind but Duncan claimed he had an epiphany right on the spot where “the perfect names just popped into my head!”

And he named his three offspring, Lauren, Shirley and Bo, not realizing for the longest time that he’d jumped in, taken charge and named his children to sound like The Three Stooges.

All dressed up and nowhere to go

Wednesday, December 30th, 2009


By Tiber

Since we’re short of money this year, Dad suggested that for New Year’s Eve, instead of our all going out separately and doing something stupid for the holiday, we should all stay here and do something stupid together. He didn’t actually use the word, “stupid,” obviously. He said we could stay in and have a fun time – no, wait, that wasn’t the word he used either, now that I think about it. What he said was, we could stay home together and have an “interesting” time. But that old saying “may you live in interesting times,” isn‘t really a hug, is it?

In any event, we can’t get out of this event. And at least Dad is promising food and liquor and that he’ll keep the heat turned on.

He still doesn’t know that I lost my job and am actually living here full-time up on the third floor, so he said, pointedly, that he wanted me to come home for New Year’s Eve too and to be sure to dress for it.

Dad told everybody to get dressed up for our party. He said that, even at home, he still wants this to be festive. Mom confided, though, that Dad really believes that if all of his children are wearing something formal, we’ll be less apt to misbehave. We were all born years ago and yet clearly, our parents still don’t know us.

Once, I actually saw my brother, Duncan, dressed in white tie and tails for an embassy event. (Evidently, they were under the impression that every other man in the world was dead.)  But even as dressed up as that, Duncan’s personality still had the subtlety of the Joker having a root canal.

And another time, my sister, Iris Nell, was wearing a long formal dress for a charity event, when she saw a woman walk in, wearing fur. Iris Nell raced over so fast to give the woman a piece of her mind, that she tripped on her gown and took a header right at the woman’s feet. Instead of getting back up to tell her off, Iris Nell just started biting the woman’s ankles.

Better clothing, clearly, has never slowed us down so far.

Our peahen has a great personality

Monday, December 7th, 2009

000_peacok and peahen

By Tiber

I knew it was the male peacock who had the colorful tail but that’s pretty much all I knew about peacocks. Now, I guess, we’re going to learn a lot more.

My mother just heard about two peacocks whose owner was now too broke to keep them. She felt sorry for them and had them brought here. (This is where my sister Iris Nell gets this sort of thing.)

My father yelled that in this economic climate, we can’t afford them either.  Mom insisted, though, that they certainly couldn’t be released into the wild, not because they couldn’t survive but because they clearly would be picked on and mocked by the other birds, for being so much more sophisticated and attractive. (These sudden verbal side trips are why my father loses arguments around here.)

“Not that attractive,” my brother, Duncan, chimed in. “At least, not the female.” He proclaimed that the female was one head-jerkingly ugly-ass peacock, or peahen, to be specific.

Iris Nell, generally kind, unless animal insults are involved, grabbed a mirror and started chasing Duncan all over the room, thrusting the mirror up to his face and yelling, “And do you call this handsome? Do you? Do you?!?”

I was trying to stay neutral. I sort of thought that was one ugly-ass peahen too but really, what do people ever know about another species’ good or bad looks? No man I’ve ever known has ever once eyed any girl rhinoceros and thought, “I have got to get me some of that.”

And yet rhinos continue.

Whisper sweet nothings…and I’ll sneeze on your desk

Monday, November 30th, 2009
By Tiber 
Now that everybody here is going to have to find a job, I’ve been wondering what my clueless older brother, Duncan, would do.  His wife has semi-nagged him to find work for a long time, but since they’ve been able to live here in my parents’ big house rent-free, it’s never gone anywhere.
Now, out of necessity, however, the “perfect” profession occurred to him. 
He could be an animal whisperer!

Yes, that’s right. My brother, who has the sensitivity of drywall and can barely talk with humans, decided that he could commune effectively with the animals. The question was, which animal?

So Duncan started with Paracelsus, our cat.

In Duncan’s mind, evidently, the concept of “animal whisperer” means simply that you get as close as possible to the animal, start murmuring repeatedly in its ear and then it will calm down and do your bidding. Paracelsus, on the other hand, viewed this up-in-his-face hissing as Duncan having a snake in his mouth and, clearly, both had to be destroyed.

Five band-aids and an eye-patch later, Duncan moved along to dogs.

This time he whispered over and over to Brendan, our Irish setter.

All this did was set off such a strong tickle in Brendan’s ear canal, that he’s been sneezing for days and constantly blowing all of the papers off of Dad’s desk.

Vanessa claims we’re now going to have to spend money to hire a damned “animal shouter” to undo all of the damage of Duncan’s whispering.

Undaunted, Duncan now claims his mistake was in going domestic. He thinks “industrial whisperer” might make more money. And he’s mulling over starting with clams.

“Whisper just right and their shells will pop open.”

I, myself, am working on “men-in-white-coats whispering.”  With just the right sound in their ears, I’m hoping they’ll take Duncan away.