Today I am grateful for Balderdash. We played the game last night, but I’m talking about that word when it is used with great expression, to call bullshit when someone says something you find hard to believe.
Himself and were married 36 years yesterday. Before I besmirch him, I have to say that Himself is one of the best story tellers I know. First of all he never ever forgets a detail. Second, he usually has a good sense of timing. Usually. And third, the man has never, ever forgotten a joke. Ever.
But I have listened to his stories and jokes for so long that my eyes start to roll before he even gets the first word out. Based on conversations we are having with other people, I know exactly which tale he will tell. Sometimes I know he’s already told it to them. Ten times. Because where he never forgets the story, he rarely remembers who he’s told it to.
There are usually three versions. The cryptic. (He doesn’t do cryptic often) The basic. (Necessary when people are trying to get out the door because they just learned their house is on fire and they must get the cat out.) The shaggy dog. (His favorite.) If I feel he’s heading for the shaggy dog length, droning on and on, losing his audience, I’ll poke him to speed it up. Sometimes I’m subtle, with a gentle kick under a table. Sometimes I give him the cranking hand, like I’m sharpening a pencil in the wall holder in third grade. If he doesn’t pick up on my cues, I’ve been known to throw my head back like a gymnast and shout, “For the love of God speed it up before we all expire from the bloody wait!”
Look, he’s probably not boring the people if they are hearing the story for the first time because he is funny and clever and knows how to tell a story, so I definitely shouldn’t do that. My bad. But 36 years of this and we have earned the right for some shorthand and my shorthand needs to shorten his stories. Often.
Last night, we celebrated our anniversary at my sister’s house. She invited our niece and her husband over for a great spaghetti dinner and afterwards we played Balderdash. One of the answers led to a discussion about Canada, which lead to Himself saying that his North Plainfield New Jersey Team, were called the Canucks, which led to him quietly declaring that their mascot was a Christmas Tree. Say what? My head snapped around fast enough to get vertigo.
“I’ve been married to you for 36 years and you’ve never mentioned that your mascot was a Christmas Tree?” I asked. “How is that possible? Was it decorated? Did it have lights?” The one liners from all commenced: “They didn’t have batteries back then.”
“Was it like Electra, the stripper in the play Gypsy?” “Did they run a long extension cord and then yank it back, making that tree fall like it was still rooted in the forest, just for kicks?”
We went on and on and the laughter did, too, until we literally could not breathe. Any of us. Except Himself, who, when asked who would be given such a task as to be the Christmas Tree Mascot, answered in a dead-pan, calm tone, “It was a girl who had a big scar on her face.”
I didn’t want to laugh because I’m not a mean person, but his sincerity. . .and timing. . .had us all on the floor. “Oh great! Make the poor girl who’s already suffering from issues wear the bloody Christmas Tree. Who’s idea was that?” What happens when she won’t do it anymore? “Wait, we need a new mascot! Get the scar stencil.”
“All girls with scars line up for your audition.” Or, “when she took the costume off was she shaped the exact same way as the tree, just like the Cone Heads on Saturday Night Live were when they took off their hats?”
We were awful. All of us. And funny. And it was a hoot. And soon phones were coming out and research was happening and if you really want to laugh, Google “Ten Worst Mascots” and keep scrolling to the end. Yikes! You’ll be shocked at some of the things we found.
Thirty-six years and there are still surprises. I’ll take it! And yes, the Stanford University Band has a Christmas Tree for their Mascot. . .but there was nothing from North Plainfield, New Jersey in 1953. My niece is on the task, so I’ll keep you posted. But be warned I am more than ready to cry Balderdash to the whole thing.