family stories

It’s A Bird! It’s A Plane! It’s An…Otter?

I have a special story coming out to play today. A legend, really. Remember my loon-bird family? (if you’re new here, read this) Well, one of them came to my house dressed as a Superhero Otter once. I shit you negative. Let me explain.

It all started when a conversation began about what super power you’d choose if you could. My family had no trouble picking theirs, ranging everywhere from mind-control to invisibility. This morphed into picking actual Superhero identities, and yes, even designing hypothetical costumes cuz we’re weird detail oriented like that. But this story is about Aunt Anne, who chose to be the Superhero Otter, because they have the power make people smile and diffuse uncomfortable situations with their water acrobatics and undeniable cuteness.

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Go ahead. Try not to smile.

One day my eldest son – nearly four at the time –  was home sick from preschool when Aunt Anne called. We were chatting away when my son demanded to know who I was talking to. Aunt Anne said, “tell him it’s the Superhero Otter.” Upon hearing this he wanted to speak to her, of course. They spoke on the phone for a few minutes while I watched my son’s eyes light up with wonder.

Because things can’t be dropped at this stage in my family, an idea grew that Superero Otter would come visit my son; he had questions, after all, and wanted to see this Otter in person. My Aunt is not one to let little boys down. One might assume she just bought a mask and came over one day.

*throws head back in laughter*

Nearly six weeks later, she arrived at our door in a handmade, head-to-toe otter costume, complete with whiskers and claws. The hubs and I could barely keep a straight face. Her voice was diguised with a deeper, huskier one. She brought fried fish to share for lunch, and real seashells for my son to keep. She spent over an hour with him, chatting and answering his many questions. My son was amazed, mesmerized, gobsmacked! He took her by the paw and showed her his room and toys. It was all at once the most bizarre, hilarious, precious thing I’d ever witnessed.

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Like this, but 5’6″ and with a cape.

Yes, our now 9yo still believes in the Superhero Otter, as does our 6yo. Periodically, Otter leaves small toys and shells hidden around the house to let them know she’s been there to check on them. And they know if they ever need help, all they have to do is think to her real hard, and she’ll always be there for them.

Someday they’ll learn the truth about Santa, the Tooth Fairy, and the Easter Bunny. But Otter will sting the most. Or will it? For the boys to know Aunt Anne cares so much about them she would go to these lengths just to entertain and be a part of their lives….I hope, if anything, it proves to them Superheroes really do exist.

If I could pick a power it’d be the ability to instantaneously time travel, any place, any era. Let’s play! What would your power be? Who’s your inner Superhero? Do you have someone in your life that could be defined as a Superhero? I LOVE your comments!

The Apple Don’t Fall Far From The Nut Tree

One of my favorite childhood recollections is one where my whole family is gathered around the table for a big holiday meal. I glance over, and there’s one of my aunts looking right at me, completely serious…with an entire stalk of broccoli hanging out of her nose.

This is my family in a nutshell.

The most consistent theme running through my family memories is humor. Not just witty remarks and fart jokes, we’re talking complete lunacy. It would take a novel to recount all the bizarre/hilarious stories (and don’t think for a second I haven’t thought of that), but a recent conversation on a group email stream inspired me to really think about where I come from. The following conversation is verbatim, except where it isn’t, and yes, they are being completely serious. *names have been changed to protect the deranged. **yes, everyone still calls me Bethie, which I adore.

Polly: Meredith, do you have my braid of hair?

Anne: Yes, I believe I do. It’s somewhere around here in a paper bag.

Marge: Aunt Destiny’s hair? That has to go to Bethie when we’re all gone.

Polly: No, I’m talking about my hair. Aunt Destiny’s hair is being kept by Karen and probably won’t go to Bethie, although you never know. It does have to stay in the family. If they run out of people to hand it down to, it will have to come this way.

Me: What the what? A bag. Of hair. Why does Anne have a bag with your hair in it (ew)? And why is there some other hair (who is Aunt Destiny? that’s a stripper name btw) and why does her hair have to stay in the family? IAMNOTTAKINGIT.

Polly: Aunt Destiny’s hair is charmed. It is carried to ward off evil and disease. Generations ago, she died at a young age but had magnificent hair which they cut at her death. The family thought it brought good luck (but not for Aunt Destiny). So they kept it. Now our cousin Karen has it.

Marge: We’re a very superstitious family.

Me: How can I just be finding out about this? A bag of dead-girl-charmed-hair is a big matzo ball. You can’t just drop that in casual conversation. Wait, why does Anne have a paper bag of your hair, Polly?  Don’t tell me yours is “charmed” too? *winces while waiting for answer*f

Jane: What until you hear about the knife from Da’s shop. You’ll probably get that too.

Me: WHAT

Polly: Don’t listen to her. My hair is just from when I cut it all off ages ago. You couldn’t give it to the Cancer Society back then, so you just kept it. Somehow Anne ended up with it.

Me: Uh-huh. I can’t believe I’m going to ask this, but if your hair is in a paper bag, what is the charmed hair in?

Polly: An ivory case

Me: Of course it is

This is my family. They’re zany, superstitious, clever, dramatic, funny, creative, and you should avoid taking them in public.  I wouldn’t have it any other way.

How would you describe your family? Does yours have strange traditions or superstitions? Are there things about yourself you’re glad you got from them? Can’t wait to hear from you!