Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Bandleading Bernie's Brigand Brigade

I apologize for not blogging lately, life is a little very hectic these days, but I figured I better write something since Amy is starting to get a little put off by the emails inquiring where to send the flowers from people assuming I died and they missed the funeral.

In addition to our now somewhat routine daily confusion, we're dealing with the mad rush to prepare for the holidays, a couple more unexpected deaths, friends in need, some work frustrations (most of which I've resolved by the way - it's easier to adopt the prevailing office attitude of not caring about common sense or quality then to continue to feel like I'm swimming upstream), and fiddling far too much with "Google gadgets" that always seem to need just a little more tinkering - I'm now convinced they're the tools of the devil. Foremost, we're also allegedly preparing for a rapidly approaching family cruise.

The cruise, in honor of my Father-in-law Bernie's 80th birthday, is going to be wonderful, but when I say "family" I mean virtually every member of our family - on Amy's side. Were it my side of the family this would be a snap, we could rent a dinghy and still have room for an ice chest and a handful of rubber ducks that would provide more than enough amusement.

This however is far different. It is a major affair that obviously includes Amy's parents, their kids, all but one of the grand kids, every one's spouse, spouse-to-be, and probable and/or potential spouse to a great-grandchild still in incubation mode.

Priscilla, my unbelievably resilient and patient Mother-in-law, is valiantly trying to get everybody (and it's a lot of people) "organized" for this extravaganza. "Organized" is not the first adjective that usually springs to mind when describing our clan of marauders. Simply taking on the task of attempting to shepherd this motley mix into the ocean while resisting the urge to succumb to the "lemming approach" speaks volumes as to her character...and quite possibly her sanity.

Priscilla will come out of this experience with even more stars for her heavenly crown, and/or a purple heart, and quite possibly as the winner of the first ever Carnival Cruise Line Betty Ford Clinic lifetime merit pass...assuming she survives the ordeal of course.

I'm not exaggerating. I mean when our family has our annual summer retreat in Ohio it doesn't usually include this many people at once and certainly doesn't require passports/coordinating airline schedules/hotel reservations/group excursion preferences, seating charts and making sure at least one cabin has padded walls for use in the event of an emergency by any number of our family members, myself certainly among them...heck there could be a line to get in.

During those summer reunions it's not uncommon for a discussion of where everyone wants to go to dinner to last hours...maybe days, I don't really know since I usually stealthily retreat to snag leftovers from the fridge fearing the collective indecision may only end when we all starve to death so it's every man for himself.

I suppose it's like an N/A meeting...except there's less smoking and the "N" stands for neurotic. Plus there's almost no anonymity...we usually know most every one's name, although occasionally it takes some of us "elder members" of the tribe a few tries to call our children by their names, rather than the names of their siblings or the family pet, depending upon our level of frustration, fear and or sleep deprivation.

Seriously, this is a huge undertaking and observing Priscilla "Cap'n" our crew via email, phone calls, postings to the family website and at times I suspect cattle prods, has resulted in me recently being startled awake on occasion by a recurring, and slightly disturbing, vision.

[STAGE INSTRUCTION: Gradually dim house-lights. "Twilight-Zone style music" fade up.]

In this "vision" our entire rag-tag troupe is boarding the ship while a slightly wild-eyed - but fashionably dressed - Priscilla is futilely trying to get every one's attention by shouting,"ARE YOU SURE YOU HAVE YOUR !*%$#@#*%^! 'FUN' PASSES?" Simultaneously she is interrogating a ship steward of some sort, but I am able to clearly hear only a small portion of that conversation:

[STAGE INSTRUCTION: Rapid music fade]

"Are you certain there are enough jackets on board for everyone?

"Why of course Ma'am, this is a state of the art cruise ship, we have more than enough life jackkaa."

"Not 'LIFE jackets silly! STRAIGHT jackets! I ordered two for everyone, figuring various members of the crew might be in need of them in order to convince the Captain it's safe to set sail! Now if a few double as life-preservers, well, that's a bonus... but believe me at this point life-saving is NOT a priority!"

"Aye Aye Ma'am! I'll go below to double check the cargo!"

Then the vision fades...with only a slight murmur still audible that took me a while to discern.

I'm fairly certain it's a spontaneous chorus of people asking,"We were supposed to bring our 'fun' passes?"

Ahoy mates! The first phase of our 2008 course has been charted!

Although I'm convinced that Priscilla's destination is eventually Sainthood.

"The real religion of the world comes from women much more than from men - from mothers most of all, who carry the key of our souls in their bosoms
." ~Oliver Wendell Holmes