Sticks and Stoned
By: Ann Brown
Nina and David are coming up to visit next week. And may I just say, YAHOO.
We have begun planning. Nina emailed this morning to say that all she wants to do is lie around on the back deck chaise lounges and eat sushi. I am exceedingly relieved to hear that because last year, she and David started each morning at 7AM by going to the nearest gym for a workout. Then they wanted to get out and experience all that the Pacific Northwest – and life – offers. That was a long weekend for me.
I am, however, in a water aerobics class this summer so I don’t have to feel like such a workout loser in front of them. But I’ve only had two classes and frankly, the pounds and inches are not dropping off as quickly as I had hoped. Nina and David might not even notice that I have worked out for two hours already this summer. Unless they are reading this post. Which I don’t think they do. Being so busy experiencing life and being at the gym and all. I really don’t know what I see in them.
Last year when they visited, we instituted a new tradition: Morning Fire and Truth Circle. It was mostly just sitting around the back deck, hungover, in the morning, staring at the still-burning embers in the outdoor fireplace and finishing up the hooch from the night before, but I like to give things Capitalized Titles. And calling our new tradition Fell Asleep Drunk In My Own Vomit Last Night On The Back Deck lacks a certain, I don’t know, heft.
Truth Circle needs its fake, weenie, wannabe Native American props. So I found a twig, which we christened The Talking Stick, and reminded everyone of The Rules: One may speak only when one is holding the talking stick. I suppose Native American babies are born understanding this but middle aged Jewish adults needs remediation. Our people is not a patiently waiting for our turn to talk kind of people. We are more of a pretending we are listening to the other person but really just formulating our next comment in our heads sort of folk.
My family had tried using The Talking Stick a few years ago when we were embroiled in a heated argument about using the term, “gypped” (from “Gypsy”. Which is derived from “Egyptian”. So it’s twice offensive). My family tends to interrupt and yell and bang our shoes on the table during polite discussion, so my sister grabbed the kitchen broom and declared it The Talking Stick, hoping to restore Native American grace, order and courtesy to our brawl.
It worked for about three seconds. Then one of my kids realized we have TWO kitchen brooms. And Alia grabbed a spatula. You can see where this is going. In the end, all seven of us were screaming at each other, making our points, arguing everyone else’s points and holding on to our person Talking Sticks – mop, Swiffer, you name it. My Talking Stick was a colander. Which I used to cover the face of the person who tried to talk when I had something to say. Ah, the gentle traditions of the Native Americans.
I know it sounds odd that we would have been arguing over the topic of using an offensive term. I mean, it’s not like any of us was in favor of being culturally insensitive; it’s not like when we had a family fight over whether or not it’s appropriate to interrupt someone in order to correct their grammar. Which it totally is. Because people should know. Yes, they should. Shut up. No, you shut up.
Where was I? Oh, right. Nina and David.
We will probably have to institute The Talking Stick when Nina, David, Robin and I make our daily plans, as there are issues such as which winery to visit and whether or not we’ll use low-sodium soy sauce on the sushi, and the four of us are pretty opinionated. David suggested in his email that we allow filibustering this time but I told him that I am not certain I can stand for eleven hours without leaning against or holding onto something. And then David suggested that I could hold on to his, um, Talking Stick. His exact words were: I’ve got something you can hold onto.
I generally scoff when David works blue, but I have to admit I laughed at his offer. And then I pointed out that he ended his sentence with a preposition.