|A press. Not Angristyna's press |
- hers is bigger and better cared for.
Another example: my mother inherited a large sideboard from her aunt, Christina, after my aunt's death twenty-four years ago. Christina's name is pronounced ChrisTYNA, not ChrisTEENA for reasons no one really knows, and this doesn't make the next part of this story any easier. Although she was, technically, our great-aunt, we kiddies always called her Aunt Christina, too. Actually, we called her Angristyna, all rolled up into one. So now we have a big mahogany sideboard in our living room, which we refer to as a 'press', Irish-style (note: a press in Ireland is a cupboard. If someone asks you to get the biscuits out of a press, open a cupboard and look for cookies) belonging to a dead relative that most of my younger siblings never even met prior to her demise (= because they were still twinkles in my father's twinkly eyes, not because we kept them locked up or anything.)
In any case, Aunt Christina's Press (Angristynaspress) has become a kind of jumbly black hole in our house, the place where all kinds of things end up. A recent peek in the middle drawer revealed a stapler, a single knitting needle, two earrings - not matching - an empty box of matches, a fluffy piece of modelling clay, a lone marble, a piece of Lego, the legs of a Lego man (maybe he crawled in looking for his brick and his torso was eaten by the drawer?), sundry pieces of paper (old electricity bills, prayers to a multitude of Catholic saints, scraps of paper with indecipherable notes on them), rubber bands, dried-out felt-tip pens, a pencil with the nib broken off, part of one of my father's pipes ... and you get the idea. You probably have a drawer like this at home. But you probably don't have an entire sideboard dedicated to collecting pieces of stuff that have no discernible use till they are thrown away ("Awww, flip! I could've fixed this wobbly table if I still had the legs of a Lego man!" etc.) In the twenty-four years that we've had it, the cupboard has defied physics by managing to house more rubbish that can possibly, logically, fit into its modest dimensions. MacGyver could build a particle accelerator that would put CERN to shame with the contents of middle drawer alone.
Aunt Christina's Press has become the last refuge of the lazy looker: missing something? Why bother search for it? At some point you're going to pull open one of the side doors and your missing knitting / magazine / baking bowl / running shoe / sunglasses / comb will simply fall out on an avalanche of assorted bric-a-brac. "Check Angristynaspress!" has become the answering roar to any questions that start with, "Have you seen my ...?"
Sometimes, Angristynaspress is so self-explanatory that we forget that it actually isn't. When my German husband wanted to know where he could find a pen, I told him to check Angristynaspress - like, of course. I found him bumbling around the living room, checking the coal scuttle for a writing implement (?). Annoyed, I tapped the top of the mahogany sideboard and explained (sigh) that this was Angristynaspress. Like, of course. His blank stare reminded me that there was no way that he could have known that
(a) in Ireland a press is actually a cupboard, a sideboard, a dresser or basically any wooden box with doors
(b) it used to belong to Aunt Christina
(c) Aunt Christina is my mother's aunt
(d) she died in 1988 and my mother inherited her sideboard
(e) and, contrary to all logic, we continue to refer to this piece of furniture as Aunt Christina's Press as though my parents' home were so chockablock with cupboards that its deceased former owner was the only means of differentiating it from the sundry other mahogany cupboards knocking around my parents' living room.
Readers, I was stunned. Not every home has an Angristynaspress!!! Or maybe they do, but they call it something else, like the jumble drawer, or the curiosity cupboard, or Mummy's Craftroom. Astonishing! Of course, I had to give my husband a tour of Angristynaspress ("And this is where my mother keeps the napkins - behind the Christmas decorations, the year's supply of old TV guides, the broken remote control and tin of throat lozenges") and show him how to delicately extract something from a thundering landslide of accumulated junk, whilst simultaneously shoving the whole mess back inside. He was very impressed and even found an interesting-looking copy of the Reader's Digest from 2009, which he kept to read over a cup of tea.
Mind you, we never found a pen, but the miraculous middle drawer coughed up the stub of a green crayon and that did the job.
So come on, readers - share some terms from your Family Lexicon!