OPINION: Someone call the fire department!
For whatever reason, She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Made Mad's mother and father had an unusual hobby as they were growing up in small towns all over Texas. Just good ol' 'billies from West Texas (yes, they were only 'billies because there are no hills in West Texas), almost every July they brought home a baby girl - well, except for that one "oops" year when a Claud Ray was born.
In all, they had four girls all born in July - the same month as their mother.
Honestly, there were more fireworks around SWMNBMM's family in July than any Fourth of July parade. Without a doubt, SWMNBMM's father, Ray, pretty much considered July a month-long pre-Christmas practice session. In just one month, he had to dig up enough money to have presents and parties for four daughters and a wife. There are small countries that don't have the amount of money the man had to rake up every July.
He survived raising four daughters (and Claud). Raising four daughters, as any parent can attest, is widely regarded as tougher than conquering the Planet of the Apes. That, in itself, is something you have to admire in the man.
As you can imagine, having five birthdays in a month to observe can be pretty expensive with the presents and cakes. Being the crafty father he was, Ray managed to survive by figuring that a gift given could come up missing - only to reappear a few days later as a different colored gift for the next child. Not only that, if he bought one big cake and lots of different colored icing, he could celebrate all month. True, it might have been a little stale by the end of the month, but Merri Etta was just a baby - and not real bright - so it could always pass as "Crunchy Cake."
Besides, moldy bread is really penicillin ... so, in a manner, he was getting the whole family a flu shot months before winter arrived.
As for the gifts, when the children got older, Ray changed his tactics. Once, he brought home a bike. Since he only had enough money for one bike, he decided to let the children work out a schedule for when they could ride it on their own. To do this, he bought four cans of spray paint - bright pink for Pattie, purple for Amanda, yellow for Cynthia and baby blue for Merri Etta - and dressed the bike up into a rainbow array. (Claud, their son, was color-blind so it didn't matter to him if he was riding a rainbow-colored bike. It was gray to him). Being the oldest (and biggest) SWMNBMM naturally rode the bike the most. In fact, I'm pretty sure she rode it all the way to her sophomore year in elementary school. After that, Amanda, Cynthia and Merri Etta - and Claud (when he wasn't having to serve as the make-up test model) - had their turns. Actually, I'm teasing ... Claud didn't get to ride the bike at all in July. As the only child not born in July, he had to wait until April to get his present.
Which brings me back to the story at hand. In the last two weeks, SWMNBMM turned 29 for the 20th time. Two days later, her younger sister, Amanda, turned 29 for the 17th time. Only a week earlier, Cynthia and Merri Etta both turned 29, too. Trust me, there are a lot of 29-year-old women in their family. I'm pretty sure Claud's wife, Maggie, is 29, too, as is their dog "Booger Butt." Don't ask about the dog's name ... There have been teams of psychiatrists working for years to determine why SWMNBMM and her siblings would give their animal a name like that.
Claud, in case you were wondering, is the only member of their clan to not have turned 29. Not for a lack of qualifying years, mind you. He just never felt the need to get past 25.
"Ain't nuthin' I can't do at 25 that I could do at 26, so I reckon I don't need no more of them numbers," said Claud, a 6-foot-7 behemoth who likes to go by his stage name, Poopsie. "Give 'em to Maggie, she's the one that needs to act 'growed' up."
Anyway, I tell you all this because all of the kids got together recently to celebrate their birthdays. There was SWMNBMM, Cynthia and Merri Etta and their mother, Mary. Amanda was unable to attend as she was vacationing at a high-falutin' swanky resort south of Paris, Texas. The place was high class, she reported when she phoned in during the candle-lighting ceremony, because it had a four-seater outhouse.
First, their mother put on 29 candles. Then SWMNBMM put on 29 for herself and Amanda and then allowed Cynthia put on her 29. Things got a might slow from there, though. SWMNBMM and Claud both had to take their shoes off so Merri Etta could count all the fingers and toes to get her 29. Once that was complete there was almost a bazillion candles on the cake.
I'm sure Ray would be proud to have seen that ... almost as happy as when he called the fire department to have them come and douse everyone while putting out the bonfire.
For those wondering what I am getting SWMNBMM for her birthday, here's the deal. I called my sister from another mister, Lisa Turner (she's a real hillbilly from Kentucky) and she's going to send me the blueprints for their four-seater outhouse. SWMNBMM is going to be so surprised to see I am building her one in the backyard.
Happy birthday to all of the girls ... and to you, too, Poopsie. We wouldn't want you to feel left out.
Tommy Wells is the editor of the Homer Tribune. Everything in this column is true, except for the parts that have been fabricated, exaggerated or are just plain lies.