The Family That Punks Together, Stays Together
Monday, March 22, 2010

Have you heard? There's big news in the Blogging World. The Pioneer Woman is coming soon to a big screen near you. 

And why wouldn't she?

It's just about the only thing she hasn't lassoed and hog-tied down. 

The woman is an unstoppable force of nature. If you've never visited her blog, do yourself a favor and wander over there. It is a gorgeous blog stocked with her exquisite photography, great writing, mouth-watering recipes from her, of course, best-selling cookbook and all her mazillion other accomplishments that make me feel like the biggest slacker in the history of the world. 

I get overwhelmed when my Dung Beetles "forget" to bring the trash to the top of the road and I'm stuck with the chore. I cry all the way down our endless driveway. Did I mention Pioneer Woman home schools her 4 kids? 

As soon as I heard the news that there was to be a movie based on the love story between her and The Marlboro Man, (her husband), I raced to visit my best friend Google. 

Along with the basic facts, I stumbled upon a message board just filled with bitter rancor directed at Ree Drummond, (The Pioneer Woman). I thought to myself, that's just not right.

Now, don't get me wrong, I can hate with the best of them. I believe there are certain folks who should be banished from the public eye and forced to live in a cave somewhere. Talentless celebrities whose reasons for being famous are as mysterious as why men are not capable of proper toilet seat etiquette. Miley Cyrus, Tia Tequila and Kim Kardashian to name just a select few. I mean, think about it, Kim Kardashian? It's pretty insane to claim celebrity status because you have a big ass. If we're gauging celebrity by the amount of fat on our ass or any other parts of the body, I should be a superstar. 

I'm just telling the Bible Truth here, Internet.

But in this case, I think Pioneer Woman deserves to have Reese Witherspoon up on the silver screen representing her with her bubbly but slick acting skills. 

Like I said, The Pioneer Woman home schools her 4 kids! That alone, should justify a nomination for The Nobel Prize. 

And besides, it shines a big ole' spotlight on the Blog World and for that, all bloggers should be thankful. 

In fact, if it helps bring attention to the Blog World, I hope they make it into a Broadway play with singing horses and g-stringed cowboys in a chorus line, kicking their metal-toed boots as high as The Rockettes. Hey, if it shines a little light my way and helps me publish my book, I'm down for anything. 

Enough of that. Now onto the post. (As you groan and mutter to yourself: Why can't she EVER freakin' write a short post. Maybe some day Internet, some day.)

Some of my sisters were here this weekend and so my massive tribe of a family descended upon my little abode. Memories were shared and it made me realize how inherent humor is to my enormous clan, how the gift of laughter has been passed down from generation to generation, each one carefully cultivating it and keeping our lives filled with the blessings of fun.

You see, my family was punking people before Ashton Kutcher was even a lustful spark in his daddy's eye. 

I'll give you just a few examples of my family's most warped moments, all in the name of The Laugh. 

This tale was told this weekend. It was a new one for me. 

My family members are card players. They love nothing better than having a big round table, a deck of cards and an endless supply of beer. Entertainment for a Saturday night. 

As the night of card playing would grow late, my father would always excuse himself to go to the bathroom, never to return, instead finding his way to his pillow and bed. 

One night when he left the table for his traditional potty break, my Hubby said to all of his fellow card players, "I've got an idea." 

When my father finished with his bathroom duty, he discreetly slid into his bedroom and crawled into his bed . . . only to find the entire table of card playing folks hiding under his sheets. 

When my dad died so suddenly without a goodbye, it's what we all said. He'd just slipped away for a bathroom break. 

And speaking of death, even its sobering punch, loses all somberness in my house. 

My grandfather had arteriosclerosis. And in days not so distant from here, the only salve for hardening of the arteries was amputation. My grandpa lived a good part of his life without any legs. In his last moments in the hospital, he drew the family near and said, "I've got a problem. It's time for me to kick the bucket, but it seems I don't have any legs."

I still remember the looks of disbelief on the medical team's faces as they walked into the room with everyone doubled over in laughter seconds after Grandpa head-butted that bucket. 

And then there was the funeral's after-party. Now that I look back, I realize what a twisted lot we really are. 

I was 16 and even though I was sad to lose my grandfather, I had a life, man. My mom gave me permission to keep the date I had for that night instead of hanging out with my ginormous clan. I called the boy to let him know I'd be able to go out, but I also warned him, if he feared for his life, he needed to stay put in his car. I told him to keep the windows up, the doors locked and the car running.

See, I have 3 big brothers. 3 big, wild, tough-ass brothers who thought it their goal in life to protect their little sister from all male predators. This pretty much meant threatening within an inch of their life, any guy who dared show up on my doorstep as a teenager. It also meant my bros would be waiting outside for my date, just so they could play a "friendly" game of basketball with him before he could make it to the front door. Every poor, poor guy who braved a date with me ended up a little pained or limping before we even made it to the car. 

On the night after my grandpa's funeral, I had my 3 brothers, my dad, my dad's brothers, (all 6 of them), my massive amount of boy cousins as wild and surly as my brothers and my other grandfather, the Irish Chicago Cop, all just waiting to dole out some good old-fashioned torture. 

Now, let me stop the story right here to say whenever my big tribe gets together, it is a celebration, no matter the event. 

I was waiting at the picture window for my date, oblivious to the cacophony around me, our home stuffed to the brim with out-of-town relatives, celebrating my grandpa's life and the simple fact that we were all together. 

As soon as I saw my date pull up, I ran to his rescue. 

Unfortunately, my other Grandpa got there first. My Irish, Chicago police officer Grandpa. My Grandpa with his striking silver hair, larger than life personality and frame and the cigar that seemed permanently stuck in the corner of his mouth. He had my date against the car and was showing my poor 16-year-old boyfriend his badge and his gun. That's right, his gun. 

I jumped in the car and ordered him to do the same and as we backed away, my boyfriend said, still shaky from the pat-down as he motioned to my front yard,"Didn't you say your other grandpa just DIED?"

I looked at the scene before us then through his eyes and saw what others must really think of my family. Some of my clan were chasing each other with water balloons, while others stood on the perimeter, drinking beer and screaming with laughter any time someone got splatted. And there on the rooftop, right above our front door, 2 of my uncles were silently rigging up a trash can filled with water, to douse all the unsuspecting victims who would enter our house of mirth and insanity and yes, death.

I just shrugged and said, "Yeah. It's kind of how we do things."

Because, really I have no other explanation. 

I'll leave you with 2 more examples, both involving vehicles because some our most creative punks have to do with cars. 

We have this family friend, Burt, a great guy, who was (and still is) considered a member of our family. 

One night at my parents' house Burt had a little too much to drink, so a designated driver drove him home. 

The next day, I'm not sure who had the inspiration, but my siblings and I pushed his Gremlin to the top of my parents' yard and stuck a For Sale sign on it. Then somebody called Burt to come pick up his car. 

Weirdly, he didn't find it as knee-slapping funny as the rest of us did. 

And my last punk'd story is all my genius. Like I said, I had 3 older brothers, brothers who were quite handsome and very popular with the ladies. Needless to say, I could have made a fortune if I had charged fees to all my girlfriends who wanted to spend the night at my house every weekend. 

One night, it was my friend Nancy's turn. I'm pretty sure it was boredom that made me think up this punk. 

With 7 kids, our house, for all our teenaged years, looked like a used car lot. Luckily, we had an ample-sized front yard and we would all park in a row, down the side of the driveway. 

My brother drove a sweet red Vega that squeaked like it was made from old bed springs every time he pulled into his slot in the driveway. We heard his familiar squeak that night. He tromped into the house, slamming his bedroom door and went straight to bed. I knew his construction job started at the break of dawn and so as soon as we heard his snores, we got straight to work. 

We fashioned the sign out of a strip from the refrigerator box of my parent's new fridge. In the dark, we giggled silently as we duct taped the sign to the passenger side of his car. The sign was so big it ran the length of his car. 

It took him 2 days to figure out why everyone was beeping at him. 

The sign read in giant, black letters, "HONK, IF YOU LOVE LEIF GARRETT!  LEIF GARRETT RULES MY WORLD!"

Now for you young uns, let me explain. 

Leif Garrett was the 80's version of the Jonas Brothers. 

He was blow dried hair and sugary pop and he made adolescent girls scream. 

He was not the stuff of a young man's fantasies who happened to be working on a construction site with some burly Hell's Angels kind of dudes. 

My brother didn't realize something was up until one of those burly dudes sidled up to my him during lunch, looked both ways and then whispered, "Hey, I love Leif Garret too, but if you tell anybody I will cut your throat."

Oh, such fun. 

Yesterday, I wasn't feeling so hot. I spent the day in bed feeling crappy. My Hubby took the two older girls to the mall. I know my girls and I know they went along for the ride in the hopes of convincing their father they were in desperate need of new, girly-girl accoutrements, specifically shoes. 

After much pleading, he agreed upon the purchase of these shoes, if and only if, they did this one thing. 

And so they did. They'll do anything for shoes.

Our traditions of humor and punking and laughter will hopefully live on and on. One can only hope. Yes, what the world needs now is definitely love, sweet love, but a good belly laugh runs a close second. 

Today's Doooo Itttt Download: Keb Mo's, "Life Is Beautiful". I do so love Keb Mo', his blues, his smoky, rich voice, his sweet and wonderful songs. This is one of my favorites. It'll make you smile even on the hardest of days. Life is beautiful when you have learned the time-honored generational gift of laughter. 

Let's go drifting, through the trees
Let's go sailing, on the sea
Let's go dancing, on the juke joint floor
And leave our troubles all behind, and have a party

So easily forgotten, are the most important things
Like the melody and the moonlight in your eyes
And the song that lasts forever, keeps on gettin betta
All the time

Cuz life is beautiful
Life is wonderous
Every star above is shining just for us
Life is beautiful, on a stormy night
Somewhere in the world the sun is shining bright


Dee said...

I've got tears streaming down my cheeks from laughing. Your family sounds like my kind of people! Too funny the things pranksters can come up with! LOL

Gorgeous girls, and the Bunny ain't so bad either. ;)

Ally said...

Leif rules I always thought he looked like he could be related to Jodi Foster though. Ha ha. Funny my first encounter with him was as a kid watching The Outsiders, he was sooo mean in that movie!

Tales Of A Fourth Grade Nothing

lauren said...'re irish? me, too!

funny girl. funny family.

Ducky said...

I am so very jealous....I always wanted a huge family that all gathered and shared so much. Didn't happen while I was growing up and it won't happen for my daughter. I always pictured myself having a huge family with a front door that never stayed closed (no that is NOT a euphemism).

Maybe I could just hang out with yours sometime?

I DID grow up with pranks and practical jokes. My husband fails to see the humor in them and I have since curbed such antics some....I still get them in when I can.

beautiful post!

Anonymous said...

I can't even say anything. What the heck is happening with Leif's pants? I'm so confused.

Ron Smith said...

How about the time your brothers, jacked up a friend's car who had one too many and removed all the tires so they could not drive home....

Noelle said...

Can we all be adopted members of your family? Sounds so fun!!!

Anonymous said...

OK. So You love Keb Mo and Madeline Peyroux. Did you see them in concert together way back when?

I did.


I love your family. I have a family of 3, but married into a giant Italian family,, complete with the "How You Doin'" cousins who told me on my wedding day that if Tyler ever messed up I should call them and they would drive up and "Take care of him"

They are all successful business men, not in the Mob, like they sound. However, they do know how to "work" that angle :-)

The easter bunny pic is SO something we would do over here!! Love it!

And And The Pioneer Woman - tres cool about the movie deal. That is Tyler's biggest fear. That I would get famous and then leave him. IDIOT. I am never getting famous.

Hope you are feeling better!

MrsBlogAlot said...

Your family sounds great! And you don't have to explain Leif Garrett to me. I was married to him and Scott Baio.... in my mind of course.

Joann Mannix said...


I was going to post a certain something about someone meeting me in the driveway one night when I got home with a certain predicament over their girlfriend who happened to be my sister who happened to be passed out in a drunken stupor in the living room. You, oops, I mean, that certain someone asked me what we should do and I said, "We should take pictures, that's what we should do!" But, I wasn't sure if that sister of mine would find that too funny.

Anonymous said...

What a great post. Your family sounds like a combination of my husband's (Irish) and my (a whole load of big bad brothers) families although I don't think either of us could compete in the punking department. You've got that one all sewn up.

Lisa said...

* I love that story about your grandfather. Love it.

* I was never that into Leif Garrett - Shaun Cassidy on the other hand....aaahhhh......

* Can you believe I have never read PW? I haven't. I went there once, wasn't that impressed, and haven't been back - but I am going to check her out again after all you said about her. Praise from Joann is high praise indeed!!

Lisa said...

OK....I officially love the Pioneer Woman now too! I guess I just caught her on an "off" day before (which we all have from time to time, nothing wrong with that!)

Just thought I'd let you know...I'm off to finish reading more PW. Haven't even made it to the recipes yet!!

w said...

you're the second blog today who's talked about pioneer woman. i must be prehistoric because i've never heard of her? *runs away fast*

also. leif garrett. i totally remember him. i'd honk for him anytime.

Bossy Betty said...

Love the tales of punking! I'll check out Pioneer Woman too!

JennyMac said...

Love that you were the pre Ashton original PUNK'er. And that Google is your bff. Mine too.

Now, I will tell you that picture of Leif is so cute..I remember when he was on the cover of Teen Beat all the time. His life is a hot mess now. AND I think he looks like maybe he put el sock in los pantalones. LOL.

Lula Lola said...

HONK! HONK! Your crowd sounds like a good time.

I'm with you on the Pioneer Woman. She doesn't seem snarky or pretentious at all from what I can tell. She has my blessing on the movie.

The Furry Godmother said...

Geeze. I have a little tiny family and we have trouble getting together for lunch without a fistfight breaking out. Why is it that huge families seem to always get along and small ones cannot?

I was born into the wrong family. Ding dang scientists...

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