Friday, October 8, 2010

The Art of The Zinger

Last week I accused my new cousin-in-law of being a reverse pimp.

You're thinking, How the heck does that come up in polite conversation?

Well, it doesn't really.

I can only thank heaven Mom (The Lady) was asleep at the time and so could not give me a long lingering look of disappointment.

You see, I was spending time with my Dad's family when it occurred, and you must understand that these multi-talented people have perfected the Art of the Zinger. Definition of zinger? A verbal firecracker that whizzes past your brain two seconds before you can catch up to it (but you're already laughing your pants off, because it's a good bet you will be anyway).

It's not safe to be around my Dad's family for more than a short evening-that is, if there are three or more of them together. Chances are high under such conditions-yes, very high indeed-that you will laugh so hard all oxygen will desert your brain, and you will keel over suddenly with a stupid joker's grin on your face, your muscles painfully frozen in place. And if that desperate situation occurs, you better have someone along who's willing to administer a good hard slap-someone who you've recently offended in a big way perhaps.  For instance, a cousin's wife whom you just met and then labeled a reverse pimp.

The odd thing is, though, I don't even remember what led up to my comment. It's a complete blank; I was SUIZ-Speaking Under the Influence of the Zingers. I do remember the scarlett flooding my face immediately afterwards when I asked, bemused, "Oh, did I just say that out loud?" followed by the raucous laughter of my relatives while I tried to hide behind my infant.

My Dad was raised in a family of Zingers, but he gets out of practice when he's been too long away from them. It took him a while to warm back up to his heritage. No mistake, though, it did eventually happen.

We did a lot of driving between Emmett and New Plymouth, Idaho-Mom, Dad, Vinca, my baby Daniel and me. It was on one of these commutes that Dad finally let one fly.

There's a canal on the way, you see, and a pull-out next to the canal.

"There," said Dad, pointing one evening as we passed it. "That's where I proposed to your mom. The first time."

He has to add that, because it took two proposals before she would accept his offer. The first time happened on their third date and went something like this:

     Dad: "I love you, Karen, and I want to marry you. Will you marry me?"

     An awkward pause.

     Then Mom: "I really like you a lot, too, but..."

She told him things were moving too fast, whereupon he took her straight home, determining that it was all over between them. They got back together because of Uncle Artie's interference on behalf of his little sister, and a second proposal successfully made it through-on the 5th date, I believe.

There is a point to me telling you this, I promise. You see, Dad must have noticed Vinca and I were staring at that canal as we passed it, looking for the special beauty that would suggest it as the perfect spot to propose.

"I know," he said, looking in the rearview. "It's not much to look at. But it was late at night."

I set him up by asking in mock disapproval, "What were you and Mama doing here late at night, huh, Papa?"

"Putting our clothes back on."


We all started laughing, except for Mama who began shaking her head like a fine filly with good manners.

Then Vinca said, still laughing, "Maybe that's why Mama thought it was moving too fast!"

Our laughter exploded (and we needed it, I can tell you, under the sad cicumstances), but Mama, our lady and The Lady, continued shaking her beautiful head at her family all the way to New Plymouth.

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