'Matter of Laugh or Death,' the award-winning humor column
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
(appearing each week in the Republican-American newspaper, Waterbury, CT)
50TH ANNIVERSARY PARTY LOTS OF LAUGHS
A few weeks ago my siblings and I threw a 50th wedding anniversary party for our parents. Friends and relatives came from many different states to help us celebrate—for example, the state of confusion, the state of intoxication, and the state of indignation. (No, I’m only kidding. Not a single person was indignant.)
It was a great party for one simple reason: it was the first time in over a decade all my relatives were gathered together in a place which was NOT a funeral home. What a pleasant change of pace.
I’ve seen most of these folks numerous times in the last 10 years. Each time I’ve said, “It’s so nice to see you. Too bad about poor old [fill in the blank]. We should plan to get together sometime and have some fun, instead of seeing each other only at wakes.” (Being Irish, our wakes often seem like New Year’s Eve parties, but you know what I mean.)
The other person always replied, “Great idea. Let’s go out to dinner or have a backyard picnic or something.” Then, of course, the next time we’d see each would be at another wake, and we’d say the same thing all over again.
So finally, we had a big party where the guest(s) of honor were actually alive. How nice.
By far the hit of the party, besides the open bar, was my younger brother Neil. If Hollywood were to do a remake of “Gilligan’s Island” using only people from my family as cast members, Neil definitely would be the Professor. (I think I’d make a good Ginger.)
Neil collected hundreds of old photographs from all of our relatives, and then carefully scanned each one into his computer, turning the photos into digital files. Then, using a projector and his laptop computer, he displayed a huge slide show on the wall throughout the party. Besides being a technical whiz, Neil obviously has way too much free time on his hands.
Speaking of whiz, the slide show was so absolutely hilarious, many of the people in attendance almost wet their pants.
There were three major categories of photographs. The first category was the “black-and-white” era. In these photos, my parents were very young, my grandparents were still alive, and the men always wore ties. I’m not sure why, but even if they were, say, digging a hole in the backyard or putting new shingles on the roof, the men back then always wore ties.
The photos of my mom and dad when they were courting—now there’s a quaint word—were amazing. My mom was quite a babe back then. (Oh wait, I’m sorry. It’s not proper to call your own mother a “babe,” except in certain parts of Kentucky and West Virginia, and only if you and your mom are officially courting.)
The second category of photos was the “young family” era. Frankly, I don’t know how my parents raised five kids without losing their minds. And frankly, I don’t know how they had time to take photographs of us. Even in the still-frame, silent snapshots, you can get a sense of constant motion and relentless noise.
These photos were taken in the 1960s and ‘70s, a time when, unfortunately, color photography became popular. I say unfortunately because of the fashions and the clothing that were in style during that period of time. I don’t know, maybe orange shag carpeting and lime-green plaid sports jackets are attractive to some people—just not people from this planet.
The third category of photos was from the “grandparent” era. In these photographs my parents have a distinct smile on their faces not present in the “young family” era photos. It is a smile that clearly says, “I get to play with these children for a while, and then I get to give them back to their parents! Woo hoo!”
The party was great, but it was also a lot of work. For their 100th anniversary party, my parents are on their own.
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