“I read something yesterday about iguanas freezing and falling out of the sky in Florida,” Daddy said Saturday after Fred and I popped in for a visit with my folks on the Mountain.
Sure enough, iguana droppings have new meaning in Miami, and the phenomenon is a novel answer to the age-old set-up line, “How cold is it?”
Daddy: “They told people not to pick them up, because they are cold-blooded and may still be alive.”
Mother, in classic non-sequitur fashion: “Do y’all eat raw fish?”
Fred, rolling with it: “I do. I love sushi.”
Mother: “Well you better watch out. I was reading about this man who loves raw fish, and had a pain in his stomach. He went to the bathroom, and pulled a 5½-foot tapeworm out of his a--. He wound it around a toilet paper roll and took it to the emergency room to show the doctors.”
Me: “Why did he go to the ER when the worm was already out?” Fair question, I thought, ER costs being what they are.
Mother: “I don’t know. I guess someone told him he needed to. He was asked later if he was still going to eat raw fish, and he said, ‘Of course. I love it.’ The fool.”
I was still processing Mother’s casual use of the three-letter term for derrière. She usually saves that coarseness for shock effect when opining about men’s facial hair.
“Why would you cultivate something over your lip that grows wild around your a--?” she has been known to ask. The point always resonates.
There is a social grooming principle at stake there. But tapeworms? I chalked it up to a cautionary tale for preventive health and changed the subject.
Me: “How’d your doctor’s appointment go Friday, Mother?”
Mother, handing me a document: “Here’s the sheet they gave me summarizing everything.”
Me: “You’ve shrunk two inches. It says here that you’re 5’5’’.”
Mother: “Yeah, but I’ve lost some weight!”
Daddy, eyes twinkling, resumed the previous conversation: “Do you know how to get rid of a tapeworm?”
Fred: “I know I shouldn’t ask.”
Mother: “Don’t encourage him!’
Daddy: “Well, I knew a man who did. For two weeks, he ate Neapolitan ice cream every day, precisely at 3 in the afternoon. On the 15th day, he asked a friend to come over. They went to the basement, and the man handed his friend a machete, and then took off all his clothes and lay down on the floor.
“Three o’clock came, and there was no ice cream. About 3:30, the tapeworm stuck its head out of the man’s a--, and asked, ‘Where’s my Neapolitan ice cream?’ and the friend went ‘Whack!’ and chopped off its head.”
Me: “Daddy, that’s horrible!”
Daddy, rolling with laughter, “I learned that when I was about 11 or 12,” he said. That would put the joke at circa 1942, assuming it had not made the rounds for years before he heard it.
Fred, none too soon: “Well, we better be going. We’re stopping at our favorite Mexican restaurant on the way home.” He was referring to a joint in Pell City.
Daddy: “Are you ordering it in Birmingham or Anniston?”
Mother: “Don’t pay any attention to him. He’s talking about the time Fred ordered Chinese takeout here and we got a free meal.”
That cleared it up. One day, shortly after we moved to Anniston, Fred called in an order for Chinese takeout, and when he went to get it, they had no record of the order. It dawned on him that he had speed-dialed the number of our favorite Chinese restaurant on The Mountain.
Sheepishly, he called Daddy and asked him to go pay for it and pick it up, and promised to reimburse him.
Me: “They still remember Fred at New China here. When he calls, the lady says: ‘Ah, Mista Fled. Egg Fu Yung for two. Ten minute.’”
Daddy: “There was a lady cashier at the Western back before it became the Pig who was like that with me. She always called me by name.”
Mother, teasing him: “You’ve got one now who does that.”
Daddy: “Yeah, but she follows me around, and I can’t get away from her.”
Fred: “Is she cute?”
Daddy: “No, but if I hug her, I don’t have to look at her.”
Me: “Be careful hugging people. You might catch a tapeworm.”
Mother: “A 5½-half foot tapeworm.”
Me: “That’s taller than you are, Mother, now that you’ve shrunk two inches.”
Next visit, we may get a wild hair and discuss politics or religion. If not, there’s always the hair that grows wild around the derrière …
Aunt Sister is a Southern Lady who was raised right, but overcame it, bless her heart. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram @auntsistersays.
Aunt Sister the book is now available at Auntsister.com.