Saturday, September 2, 2017

53rd Place Trophy

So, when did we start celebrating the American labor movement with explosives?

Personally, I just learned about it today while driving to the Northern Neck in the pouring rain. Signs and stands along Route 360 were advertising "Labor Day fireworks!" Huh?

But, as always, it was worth it for my companion and I to spend the day with my parents who never cease to entertain with their pithy political commentary, extensive bird knowledge and hilarious reflections on life.

We had crab melts for lunch, the lump crabmeat from as near as Reedville, and then settled in for hours of conversation while keeping an eye on the non-stop flight patterns of birds incoming for meals at their various feeders despite the continued onslaught of rain.

A couple of tiny hummingbirds were adorable to watch, the sparrows were particularly tenacious in returning and a male cardinal arrived so drenched that the crest on his head was flattened out completely.

From my perch on the wicker settee, I watched as the rain obliterated the land on the far side of the river, making it look like the silvery water met the sky.

For fun, we looked through a massive album full of old photos, ticket stubs, poems and notes that one of my sisters had made for my Dad's 70th birthday. I especially loved the pictures of my parents from the '70s, my Dad with his massive mutton chops and plaid pants with white belt and my Mom in short skirts and hip jewelry.

My groovy parents.

One photo in particular caught my eye because it showed Dad with his six young daughters at the beach in 1969, which led to ribbing about how very fertile Mom had been.

"With three of my daughters, all I had to do was throw my shorts on the bed and she got pregnant," my Dad cracked to uproarious laughter and mild mortification on the part of my companion. Dads will be dads, no?

Of course, once he heard laughter, he couldn't stop himself from going for more, bringing up my, ahem, colorful past and passing judgement on it as only a man who found the love of his life at 23 can. Must be nice to be so lucky that way.

By the time we drove back to Richmond (with only a few minor episodes of hydroplaning, yikes), we had just enough time for a meal in service of my hired mouth before parting ways.

Given that it was already after 7, all I could think was thank goodness you don't have to look good for comedy, so I tidied up and set out (again, this time on foot through massive puddles) in the pouring rain for the Comedy Coalition and some non-Dad humor.

Tonight's show was "What Was I Thinking?" and was based on journal entries from people brave enough to share their adolescent angst.

From her Hello, Kitty locked diary, Kim read several entries from 1997 and 1999 about the posters on her walls, the songs she liked and Anthony, her one true love since 3rd grade, although she was still nervous about fast dancing with him unless there were plenty of people around. Slow dancing, now that was fine.

Life sucks. I might have to move to Cali. I might have scoliosis.

The improv performers wasted no time in riffing on her teen-aged malaise, like using pinhole cameras to avoid eye contact with someone you liked and explaining human vibrators. Best line from a Mom to her daughter: "You're going to be alone because no man is going to want to listen to your music!"

Matt was the next victim willing to bare his journal and, in his case, ephemera for the sake of comedy.

He'd brought posters acquired over time - "You don't get that kind of collection overnight"  ("Ace Ventura," Ren & Stimpy, the Road Kill Cafe, Green Day, aliens) - plus the journal he'd begun when he started drinking and writing and a scrapbook of his sports accomplishments (swim team ribbons ranging from 1st place to 23rd place) compiled by - who else? - his Mom.

Your eyes take me too close to a past I'm not ready to look at yet

That mother lode resulted in a bit about his Mom knitting a sweater that incorporated his accomplishments (53rd place in arriving to school on time) and a pair of Converse painted with the names people, including bullies, called him. Another centered on "X Files" and mouth-probing aliens.

Last to sacrifice her dignity on the altar of comedy was Katie with her fuzzy blue leopard spotted journal detailing her first mosh pit at Sauce-a-palooza ("Jeez, it was so spiffy!"), poetry ("Let love come to you. If it doesn't, you don't deserve it." was topped only by "Now and forever, you are an obstetrician. You helped me be born again.") and a list of every cliched '90s CD she absolutely needed (Disturbd, System of a Down, Sublime).

Like Kim's diary entries, Katie's listed every single friend she went places with, even if it was 20 people, sometimes with first and last names and other times with just a first name and last initial, as if to keep their identity secret. Hilarious.

Clinging to you like a pair of wet jeans
Heavy on the wet

No one get deep like a teen-aged girl.

It was some rich material to pull from and the performers mocked high school poetry competitions (one teacher trading a year of overseeing detention to get out of judging the competition) and girls who started thinking marriage after a boy did no more than talk to them, all of which involved ridiculously long lists of friends' names ("Was that Cher B. or Cher M? I think it was Cher C.").

This rainy day turned out to be full of laughs start to finish. They say you have to let comedy come to you and if it doesn't, you don't deserve it.

Hell, I don't mind driving or walking to it if the laughs are good.

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