Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

Cheapy cheapy bang bang Part II

Tuesday, July 5th, 2011

By Tiber

You may recall that last year on Independence Day, Dad said we couldn’t have real firecrackers because he was “concerned about our safety.”

We knew right then, of course, that his “concern about our safety with  firecrackers” just meant that he didn’t want to pay for them.

Now, this year, he’s not going to pay for them again.

His reason?

Well, since last year we were forced to pretend to have fireworks…now that’s traditional! We can’t win.

Unfortunately, this time, Dad also invited some friends to watch.

Once again, Dad coerced family members and staff to “be the fireworks” by banging on pans and running really quickly in and out of the woods waving flashlights covered in colored cling wrap.

As I said before, we’re not so much “going low-tech” as actually collapsing into “subterranean.”

Then, this year, to cap it, Dad actually allowed his grandchildren, the triplets, to write their own words to some John Phillip Sousa music.

Really, Dad? Come on! You know these people!

So, not surprisingly, after the “fireworks display,“ our friends were treated to patriotic tunes like, “Da-Da-Dee-Dum-Dum, It’s Time To Smell Your Feet.”

I don’t think I’m alone in saying that the audience, even though it was comprised of people who know us and seem to like us, didn’t look so much entertained as… perplexed.

I guess Dad saw it too.

So he went for our number one 4th of July crowd pleaser!

He had our butler, Brunty, dress up once again as the Statue of Liberty!

Oh, who am I kidding? Brunty could have dressed up as Genghis Khan. The point was, he was pushing a well-stocked liquor cart.

Some traditions just work better than others.

Dinner is served and you’re served too

Saturday, July 2nd, 2011

By Tiber

Dad has always insisted that everybody bring an interesting contribution for the dinner table conversation.

I think his initial plan was for us to be able to hold our own at dinner parties. Of course, since “interesting” is the only criterion, a lot of the things we’ve come up would only get us thrown out of dinner parties.

When we were little, a lot of our offerings came from two categories. 1) waste products and 2) strange animals. Dad would gamely try to expand on them and after Duncan’s first two-headed animal story, Dad said,

“You know, in the 19th century, showmen like P.T. Barnum would display oddities like that in an extra-pay sideshow.”

Vanessa: “Oh, come on, Dad. They called them freak shows!”

Kru: “Duncan goes to freak shows!”

Duncan: “You are a freak show!”

Vanessa: “Well, you’re just a freak! Without the show!”

Me: “But he could bet on something in a freak show! Win, place or show!”

Iris Nell: “He’d hurt the sad little two-headed creature!”

Vanessa: “No, he wouldn‘t! The animal would be two brains up on him!”

Iris Nell: “That’s not nice to say!…Just make it one and a half.”

Duncan: “I could open a good sideshow with a quarter of a brain!”

Kru: “It’s a freak show! Freak show!”

Duncan: “You’re a freak show!”

I knew early on that no one from the Algonquin was going to be calling.

But maybe Dad was right. Maybe these talks did somehow expand our minds.

That one idiotic exchange alone contained biology, biography, history, entrepreneurship, capitalism, horse-racing, math and good old sibling self-defense.

The Big-Time Bunny Run goes on

Sunday, April 24th, 2011

By Tiber 

Since my brother’s triplets are now 11, Dad asked if they still wanted the Easter Bunny to go to all of the trouble of our usual “Big-Time Bunny Run.”

The kids got that look on their faces that some might say was pained disappointment. I say they were quickly communing with their demonic overlords but maybe that’s just me.

Either way, Dad knew that the egg hunt was still on.

Mom will only let Dad eat candy on holidays so, conveniently, he has always maintained that the Easter Bunny has a strict rule that all candy not found by the children during the hunt reverts to the dad.

The triplets, however, are so good at finding the candy that this year, Dad said the Bunny had, for some reason, generously dropped off an entire extra stash of it. What are the odds?

Dad said maybe he should just eat all of the extras but Mom jumped in and said, no, even though all the rest of us are grown, E. B. should hide this candy for us.

So the triplets had a big hunt outside and we had a big hunt inside. It was not pretty.

I’m thinking now that maybe we could hire ourselves out if someone has some densely-packed property they want cleared. We’d have the place flattened in no time if the owner just said there was chocolate in there.

Dad raced around like a crazed loon, trying to hide candy in successively harder to find places so that no kid would find it and he could have it.

But the only piece he managed to keep away from us was one he had stuck in his sock.

The triplets saw it, though, and they came after Dad from all directions. And the rest of us saw Dad disappear under a canopy of wildly waving little legs.

It looked like the Easter where Dad was, surprisingly, eaten alive by an octopus.

Knock yourself out on Boxing Day

Monday, December 27th, 2010


By Tiber

The day after Christmas is Boxing Day, where one of the Victorian customs was to give all of the servants a day off.  This year, everybody who works for my parents made use of it and took off.  At least, we hoped they had. This house is so big, you know we’ve already found one unknown person up in the attic. Over in the massive staff wing, there could be an unknown settlement of villagers, for all we’d know.

It’s very rare when we go over there at all but being pretty sure that everyone, including Dad, was gone for the day, the rest of us decided to go over to the big kitchen and make something to eat.

Mom offered to do it but instantly, everyone else leaped in, saying it was our treat, etc., anything to keep the world’s worst cook away from the food.

I remember when I was about 7 and all of the moms were bringing food to a holiday party at school. Mom gamely attempted some fudge but it ended up, no lie, looking partially green. She said maybe if she put a red ribbon on it, it would just look “Christmasy.” I said I really didn’t think so. So she stopped at a restaurant in town and had them make up some salmon roll-ups, I think it was, for me to take to school instead. Of course, the other 7 year-olds took one look at those and I knew right then, they would have preferred the green fudge.

Anyway, we kept Mom, the chef, out of the kitchen and then, of course, quickly realized that the rest of us weren’t that much better. Cook didn’t have anything you could just heat up. She only had ingredients you would have to assemble. This would be as bad as making food from IKEA.

In the mop closet, we did find some of the cans of Spam Dad keeps trying to foist on us but we left those there.

Somebody suggested we make S’mores but, thankfully, Iris Nell knew that they wouldn’t work with baking chocolate, which was all that Cook had.

Frustration set in and I’m not proud to admit this but all we ended up with was a food fight (which we did clean up afterwards). Still, it was wasteful, pointless, incredibly juvenile and more fun than anyone had had all day.

Afterwards, we went into town and just bought Mom some flowers. She barely eats anyway and I think the flowers pleased her more.

Donner party, table for six…Donner party, table for five…Donner party, table for four…

Sunday, September 26th, 2010

By Tiber 

My father called the family together for another of his recent pep talks.

“So,” Dad said. “As you know, we’re not quite as…snug in our little financial bed as we once were but-”

“Biggest euphemism of all time!”

My father eye-lasered his oldest son with a “Thank you, Duncan.”

Duncan’s 10 year-old-triplets, maybe in an attempt to defend their father or just because genes are irreversible, spoke up in their usual synchronized monotone.

“Donner party. Donner party. Donner party…”

“Now see? There’s good news right there!” Dad said brightly, causing everyone else to head for the door.

“No, no, I mean, that we’re not in as much trouble as the Donner party!”

“For the moment, ” Duncan replied.

“So we can, at least, savor the moment,” the ever-optimistic Iris Nell added.


Dad was so relieved to find someone sort of on his team.

“And I promise you this. If we ever do get as desperate as the Donner party around here, how about if I ring a bell and everyone can get a running head start?”

This caused my mother to actually express some emotion.

“That’s not remotely fair! I’m bound to be one of the slowest runners in the whole family!“

“Oh, for God‘s sake, Gwen. I was joking! We‘re just…penny-challenged right now. That’s all.”

The triplets started up again, “Donner party. Don-” which Dad mercifully interrupted.

“Come on, kids! We’re not going to end up like the Donner Party at all! You’re old enough now to know the kind of family you come from!”

The triplets then looked at each other and they did proceed in a much more believable direction.

“…’Lord of the Flies’…’Lord of the Flies’…’Lord of the Flies.’”