My sister and I have very different temperments. Specifically, she is shy, and I am … not. As adults, this difference manifests most often in my trying to get her to retell jokes she’s told me to larger audiences. Which, she won’t. She smiles nicely while crickets chirp in the background. It’s kinda like that old cartoon with the frog who can tap dance and sing “Hello, my baby, hello, my darlin’, hello, my ragtime gal” … but only when his owner is watching, and no one else.
“Do your filthy old man voice for Isaac and Cathy,” I’ll urge her.
And she’ll smile and say, “I do this voice sometimes.” So that they’ll know I’m not crazy, right? But she won’t actually do it. So frustrating.
Part of this is because Mrs. P has the ability to keep things to herself. I do not understand this. My every thought might as well be printed on my t-shirt. And, as readers of this blog know well enough, I don’t have the greatest sense of privacy.
Here’s a good example of this. A little while ago, I did a reading with a bunch of other people at a gallery in Cambridge. My friend Rod, who had organized the reading, has this one friend who happens to be a four-foot tall African-American midget wrestler. This individual is named Tiny the Terrible, and he typically wears a red suit, red cowboy boots, a big ol’ cowboy hat and a medallion the size of a dinner plate with Caeser’s head on it. He also likes to yell things in public, such as entreaties to vote for Bush, etc. (BTW, I tried to convince him to campaign for Bush, but it didn’t work.)
Anyway, Tiny came to the reading, and was actual rather well-behaved during my section, in which I read a funny little story about my grandfather’s funeral. I’ve written about that before here, but it’s basically about how my cousin convinced me to kiss my grandfather’s corpse, by threatening to scream if I didn’t.
After the reading, Tiny swaggered up to me and said, “Are you the girl who read the story about the funeral?”
I said I was.
He looked at me with real concern. “What would ever make a person tell a story like that? About their own family?”
Such a good question, my little pal.