Subourbon Mom

Laughter–A Gift Wrapped in Toilet Paper

images-8Last weekend we attended the annual Montpelier Hunt Races in Virginia. For those of you who have been reading my blog for a while, you may recall that the stately Montpelier event has always provided me with literary fodder. One election year, I was interviewed in my inebriated condition by an Irish news channel about my thoughts on what it’s like to live in a swing state (see “Schwing State”). Last year, Hubby had an “accident” in the parking lot that involved road rage and karma sent straight from the animal world (see “Traffic Martyrs & Sliders” and “Chipmunk Popsicles”).

This year, I was given a gift. It wasn’t wrapped in Wal-mart Christmas paper with a stick-on bow, or delivered in a turquoise Tiffany box, but it was a gift that I think is priceless—it was a bend-over-because–you-can’t-breathe-oh-my-God-I’m-crying-belly laugh.

Maybe it happened because it’s been a difficult couple of months; maybe it was the wine; or, maybe it happened because sometimes there are just those moments in life that come together to make the perfect storm of funny at the time. Either way, I’m grateful.

My friends Stacie*, Helen* and I were walking back to the tailgate after shopping among the vendors. Helen is single and younger than Stacie and I, and still cares what other people think about how she looks, and about retaining her dignity. We’d watched Helen try on hats, agonizing over gray or brown, feathers or not, and by the time we left the area, I was long past caring about hats, and more concerned with getting back to place our bets on the next race. Halfway there, we made a pit stop at the port-a-johns.

Helen is also a slow learner—despite knowing me for several years now, she still made the crucial mistake of telling me how much she HATES using port-a-johns.

While we were waiting, a guy came out and said, with his eyes watering like he’d been cutting an onion, “I know they’re not supposed to be great, but that was awful!”

“Why? Did someone take a crap in there?” I asked, trying to find something to say.

He looked at me in pure wonderment and nodded. “Who does that in one of those?” he whispered, and walked away.

Helen’s eyes bugged out and she looked like she might bolt, but somehow she summoned her courage and went in anyway. Must have been all those beers–liquid courage, on so many levels.

As soon as Helen was inside, Stacie and I looked at each other, grinned and took action. Stacie went to the back and I went to the front of Helen’s port-a-john, and we banged on the walls like the Four Horsemen of the Apocolypse were thundering by.

Helen screamed.

Stacie and I ran, hiding around the corner. Predictably, Helen came storming out of the port-a-john, strutting her angry 5-foot-3-self across the field.

As she yelled at us and pointed her finger, we couldn’t help but double over laughing—

Helen, jaunty new brown hat slightly askew, was trailing a 3-foot ribbon of toilet paper from her shoe.

While it may be a location joke (you had to be there), to us, it was funny.

When you’re an adult, these moments don’t come nearly as often as they do when you’re a kid. Kids know how to belly laugh, and they don’t care who sees them or how loud they are. As adults, we may occasionally have those laughing fits that make you cry, but we usually try to hide them behind our hands or we leave the room. This time, I didn’t do either. I let out my full-throttle laugh, which as you may know, is pretty freakin’ loud. I’m sure people were staring, appalled at our behavior at such a dignified event—and I don’t care. We laughed until we couldn’t breathe, and it was wonderful.

So thank you Helen, for sacrificing your dignity (albeit unwillingly). And thanks to Stacie, who laughed right along with me. Gifts don’t always arrive with a card and a song—sometimes they arrive on a ribbon of toilet paper.

*Names have been changed to protect my friends’ professional images. Now, if we could just get rid of all those pictures with red cups…

Shwing Shtate

Last weekend I was doing what God has ordained all good Virginians do in the fall: Tailgate.

But not at a football game—watching horses race around a mile-long course at James Madison’s home, Montpelier plantation. They were jumping bushes and fences no horse in its right mind would ever do if there wasn’t an annoying tiny-man on its back hitting it with a stick.

For any southern tailgate, the men don their uniforms of khaki pants, button down shirt with bowtie, and navy blue jacket. The women dress up in silly hats, colorful scarves and ridiculous boots no self-respecting horseman would ever wear anywhere near a barn. They spread their southern delicacies (i.e. ham biscuits, devilled eggs and pecan pie—not everybody can bring chips and salsa!) on fold-up tables covered with their best tablecloths and silver chafing dishes. The centerpiece is an opus of fall foliage around silver candelabra or a horse statue. And lets not forget the most important feature: the drink table. Bourbon, wine, rum, vodka, champagne, and Bloody Mary mix are all ready to be tumbled into Jefferson cups or, in our case, red solo cups (nothing but the best for my friends!).

It was a beautiful day, free of cell phones, election flyers, and pimple-faced doorbell ringers. Not a tramp stamp in sight.

Until, THE INTERVIEW, that is.

That’s right, folks, an Irish reporter from a television station had a camera man in tow, circulating among the drunks, asking what it is like to live in a swing state. And guess what? He interviewed me. Yep, the least political person who’d already had about three bourbon and gingers.

That went well.

It’s a little vague, but I’m pretty sure I offered him a drink about every other sentence. In my golden-hazed mind, I managed to string together this thought: Irish-guy-must-want-to-drink-so-be-a-good-hostess-and-offer. He politely declined each time.

He asked me what it is like to live in a swing state. Thankfully I choked back a comment about all the rumors of swinging couples in the area where I live. Or at least I hope I did. In my head, I planned to give an intelligent rant about how we all are huddled in our living rooms, cowering from the ringing phones and massive recycle pile of election mail, and that the electoral college is unnecessary in this electronic age.

I’m pretty sure what came out was something like “It sucks.”

Yep, I’m a voter. Mr. Kluge, my Government high school teacher would have been so proud.

I’m pretty sure you’ll never see that interview on the news in the U.S., except maybe on YouTube as one of those Dumb American posts, but I have done my part to ensure that the international world’s view of Americans is still intact.

The news guy never did take a drink. Maybe if I’d had some Guinness…

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