Tammie Thursday: And the Mockery Continues…
Growing up in a little Swedish community was interesting, to say the least. Placing that community smack dab in the wild northern woods only made it more interesting. When you ask yourself why the Tammie IS the way the Tammie IS, this is part of the reason why. Then there is my family. And because it’s my life and my family, I can mock it all I want to.
Visiting my family every year would compare to a stint in the nuthouse while heavily medicated. You reflect on the experience a month later and wonder if it really happened or if it was just a figment of your imagination while on lithium.
I mean, I know other families have their own “things”, like mine, but you know I just feel a little different than other people sometimes. Does everyone wake up in their grandmother’s house to the sound of Swedish Polka music playing and the smell of burning flesh? It’s like Deliverance taking place at a Midsommar festival. Hair removal is not for the weak in my family. Give my eighty one year old grandmother a match and she’ll make sure you don’t need to shave your legs FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE. Don’t ask me why she does it or how she does it, just know that she is no wimp and hasn’t had to shave her legs for the last sixty years of her life. Apparently the polka music serves as a anesthesia for her hair removal technique.
After being greeted with THAT first thing in the morning, you pour yourself a cup of good, strong Swedish coffee and prepare to chew your way through a cup. This sets the stage for the rest of your day. A good brisk walk helps move the coffee through your bowels and allows the mosquitoes to drain you of all your bad blood. If you’re lucky you will return unmolested by moose, bear, bobcat or hungover old man wandering home after laying drunk all night in the potato house down the road.
No…I am not exaggerating.
This is part of the charm of my little home town, along with the whole “everybody knows everybody else’s business” thing. I would say that probably over half of the town and neighboring communities know my bra size, blood type and the day I lost my virginity. The odd thing about this whole phenomenon though, is that while they know it, they wouldn’t tell a soul about it.
Seriously, if you want to keep a secret, these Swedes are the people to tell. The CIA should learn a thing or two about keeping secrets from these people. Yeah, they’ll discuss it among themselves, but if you’re not one of us, you’re on the outside. You’re from “AWAY” (which basically means you do not exist). Cultish? Perhaps, but it’s the way things have been done since 1870 when they first arrived in the colony.
The quirks are mild though, considering the benefits of growing up in my town. Swedes are loyal, almost to a fault, and they squeeze every drop of joy out of living.
Take my cousins, the Beericksons for example. They’re a hard working group of Swedes. They bust their asses every day at their jobs and are very successful. But at the end of the day, it’s time to have some fun. They make the act of having a good time into an art form. To spend any time with them requires days to recover, not only from the drinking but also from laughing so hard your stomach aches for days afterward. They are funny and generous and can put away more beer in one night than Billy Carter did during his brother’s entire administration. These people can drink. One of their favorite games is to abuse the first person to pass out. This tradition has been part of family legend for forty years now and continues to live on through their own children (who are now of drinking age). They once stripped the loser naked, laid him out in the parking lot and wrote on his chest, “Free pet worm to good home” with an arrow pointing toward his wee wee. Then there was the loser who ended up naked, laying face down on a lobby sofa in a hotel, with “Enter Here” written in red lipstick on his back with an arrow pointing toward his ass.
Those are just a few examples that stick out in my mind. Fortunately for me, I’ve never been the “loser” and plan to make sure that NEVER happens. Seeing them once a year helps me maintain that position and while I enjoy their company I am somewhat relieved I don’t have to worry about it on a daily basis.
I have other cousins, who are just as much fun without the whole “loser gets abused” thing happening. These cousins are the ones I spent the 4th of July with. We played a rousing game of Whiffle ball while intoxicated. Have you ever seen a grown man do a split to the ground and walk away from it without crying? That’s my cousin Sgt. Rock who shops at the “Everything Manly” store. I swear the guy is made out of kryptonite. There was horseshoes and the firecracker fight as well, although the firecracker fight caused my brother to flip his shit when people started throwing them at each other. I said we were fun, not smart. Ok?
These are just a few of the things I find mockable about my family and the little town I grew up in. While I may feel like my life is mockable, others may not. So next week I will be back to something more appropriate.