Monday, October 11, 2010

The Aunties (II)

Newton Square Unit of the Women's Land Army under command of National Defense, Pennsylvania, 1918. Philadelphia Public Ledger. (War Dept.) Exact Date Shot Unknown NARA FILE #: 165-WW-581A-1 WAR & CONFLICT BOOK #: 564


My auntie from England is visiting her sisters in Ireland at the moment and, sadly, I'm not there to take part in the fun. As you know from this post, my mother had eight sisters but one of them has since gone off to the Great Big Bridge Club in the sky, leaving the remaining eight to band together to fight crime and right wrongs. They're a formidable bunch of biddies, and as they tend to travel in packs, it can be difficult for outsiders to figure out who's who. There's an awful lot of stylish outfits, tasteful jewellery and elegant coiffeurs: all very ladylike and genteel, till someone plays ABBA at a wedding reception, then they'll descend upon the dancefloor, bottoms twitching in unison to Take a Chance on Me.


My mother and her sisters are the Jedi masters of family warfare: they have The Eye, a kind of psychological lightsaber. Imagine, if you will, a family occasion where dozens of vaguely (or remarkably) similar-looking people have gathered to celebrate a birthday. Or a wedding. Perhaps a christening, or even a funeral. Picture an uncle telling (God forbid) an off-colour joke, or a cousin (perish the thought) engaged in a particularly flamboyant version of the chicken dance. In other words, family members Making A Holy Show Of Themselves. The offender could be mid-entendre or working up to a spectacular high-kick, when he might suddenly feel an icicle in the small of his neck. Whipping around, he'd immediately be pinned down by the gimlet stare of one or more Aunties who are Not Amused. Nothing would be said, the offender would be simply lasered into shame. Tssssssssssss! (that was The Eye burning a hole in your forehead.) That's justice, Aunties-style.

The problem is, of course, that The Eye is a highly dangerous and instable weapon. Negotiating a room full of Aunties giving you The Eye is a bit like trying to wriggle your way through the temple in the opening sequence of Raiders of the Lost Ark: one false move and you'll be cut to pieces by a pygmy's poison dart or you'll have your head chopped off by a swinging blade. Occasionally, an Auntie might even get caught in the crossfire herself : she might be the recipient of The Eye that was meant for an errant bystander. She might have just been in the wrong place at the wrong time, she might have bent down to tie the shoelace on her Ecco shoe or push a stray hair out of place and then -
Tssssssssssssssss!
from a sister who'd been working up to a Mega Stinky Eye for particularly naughty or disrespectful offspring (the offspring had, of course, flung themselves under the nearest table to escape being hit).
"Whaaaaat?" the stricken Auntie will think, indignant. "How dare she give me The Eye!"
An Auntie that gets The Eye from another Auntie immediately ups the ante (sorry, couldn't resist) and returns with the ultimate weapon: The Nose. She'll sniff - oh, it's not just a sniff, it's A Sniff - and retreat in frosty silence. Once The Nose is up, the warring Aunties will withdraw, feathers ruffled and hackles raised, and anyone who happens to stumble into the middle of it will be dragged over to one side or the other. Either that, or you make a run for it and try to escape being slashed by The Eye or frozen by The Nose.

This will continue for an undefined length of time, generally till the Aunties in question have forgotten whatever slight it was in the first place - or till the next Auntie has inadvertently received a lash of The Eye from one of the other sisters, and the original Aunties are distracted from their squabble by the next one. It's like a soap opera: there's drama and intrigue. There are spies and double-agents and plots and coups. It's terribly exciting. Mind you, I find it all the more exciting 2000 kms away in Germany: the chances of getting whiplash from avoiding The Eye are so much slimmer over here.
Having said that, if I don't post within the next week, it's because they've read this post and ganged up to laser me with The Eye via Skype. Mr Gingerbread will find my corpse slumped over the laptop, riddled with smoking holes, and a bunch of neatly-groomed women nodding righteously at me through the webcam.

Postscript: Please, please, Aunties: I love you all dearly. Go easy on me. xxx

2 comments:

Clara said...

Ha! Ha! Beware............till next time. Enjoyed your post.

CT said...

oh my stars! you had me in stitches here! lol! I loved this! wish I had a couple of your aunties! are they free to be borrowed? they would have to travel all the way to Mexico, but I'd be SO happy to have them!