All families have silly family insider jokes and allusions that are incomprehensible and meaningless to outsiders. A word, a glance, a nudge, will instantly transport every family member into a special place shared and understood only by them. As surely as genetics, or love, or family loyalties, these special intimate references bind a family together in subtle ways.
We have a bunch of these in our family. I am about to divulge two of them that over the years have mystified our friends and confused even some of the immediate family members.
No. 1 is the bacon fork. Or as it has become over the years, in hushed tones, the Bacon Fork. The object in question is a small, two-tined fork with a bone handle. How this humble object got it's name or the mystique surrounding it is unclear. It was never used to turn any bacon as far as I know. Where it came from or what it's original purpose was are lost in the mists of time. It was owned by my mother, who used to wrap a piece of clean cloth around the tines, tied with a bit of twine. This she dipped into a can of ham or bacon fat which was kept by the kitchen stove, to grease the pancake
griddle. (In those far-off farm days, we had pancakes most mornings.) Somehow or other, it got to be an object of some veneration among the siblings, who pull it out of the utensil drawer when visiting and ooh and aah over it's qualities. They have suggested keeping it in the safe deposit box in the bank. They are considering a velvet-lined jewelery display case. They do a good bit of squabbling about who is going to inherit. (Answer: Nobody. I am taking it with me.) Now I ask you, does this make a bit of sense to anybody outside our family? Or even inside our family?
No.2 is the Bathing Suit. One day a good many years ago, as I was vacuuming, I found a small bathing suit on the floor of my bedroom, of the kind worn by Barbie dolls. I immediately assumed (wouldn't you?) that the suit belonged to of my girls' old Barbie dolls and since Erika was the only one living at home at the time, I handed it over to her. She denied ownership. Well, it sure wasn't mine, so I insisted. Before long, I found the thing under my pillow. I retaliated by sticking it into her makeup box. Not long after, there is was, tucked into the top of the cereal box. So I stuffed it into one of her shoes. War!! Over the years, things got more sophisticated. (As, sadly, the little suit became more faded and stretched and forlorn.) Once I sent it to a friend who lived in Kenya and she mailed it to Erika in Southern California. I didn't see the letter but have always hoped there were a lot of exotic African stamps and foreign signs plastered on the envelope. One Christmas which we all spent in Cabo San Lucas during Erika's stained glass period, I received the bathing suit nicely framed under glass. Sometimes a long period of time would pass and the bathing suit would be forgotten, only to turn up out of the blue in some unexpected place. And then it disappeared! Erika denied knowledge of it's whereabouts and I had no idea what had happened to it.
I have stopped traveling and it has been several years since I have used any of my luggage, but one day not long ago I got the idea that I should empty out my travel kit, which I always kept packed and ready to go with essential items such as toiletries, cosmetics, a small flashlight, a bottle opener, (most essential thing of all) and so forth. While fishing around in one of the side pockets, what should I find but a greeting card with the Barbie bathing suit neatly glued to it's inside cover!
Now, I am not a suspicious Mom type, but since my last trip using this luggage was to Seattle and since Erika was in Southern California at the time, I feel justified in thinking there must have been some collusion here. Of course, sisters support each other and often bond together and all that, so I am just assuming........Pretty strong evidence, though. Eh, Watson?
While I was composing this blog, Erika posted a picture of the bathing suit on her Facebook site so you can see what all the fuss it about. Since it is all now out in the open, I think we have agreed on a truce. Not that I really trust her. I would not be surprised to have the Barbie bathing suit turn up under my pillow one of these days.