A Loco Viewpoint
A Luau To Remember
When comedians dish on family reunions, they generally describe interminable, fractious snipe-fests replete with relatives that span the likeability spectrum from a (hole) to zee (ro) and that one weird uncle. Such is not the case for our family’s yearly get-together. The festivities invariably end far too soon, the weather is always as co-operative as the family members, and not just one, but all the uncles are weird. Of course, I’m one of those uncles.
The venue for this year's “luau”, as we call it, is one of the area’s best-kept secrets; the superbly maintained Rundle's Mission on Pigeon Lake. Of course we called it our ‘secret mission’.
Rundle’s Mission is actually not a secret, but is a historically significant religious mission and a really cool place to camp. It has a wooden walking trail through the forest, complete with information signs describing the fascinating history of the area and the dead guys that peopled it, way back when. The ultimate feature on the tiny tour is an ancient two-tombstone cemetery containing the final resting place of one “Simon Fraser” (but not THE Simon Fraser) and another person whose name I couldn’t make out on the worn, hand-carved stone but likely Mrs. Fraser (but not THE Mrs. Fraser) given the closeness of the crude monuments. The undisturbed, thick, uniform, carpet of moss that covered the chained off cemetery built for two, combined with the dank dimness in the heart of the forest, gave it an eeriness that creeped out the adults even more than it widened the eyes of the young ones among us to Marty Feldman dimensions.
As usual, that Friday was filled with more hugging than hippies at a tree farm as four generations of McKerrachers pulled into the parking lot from all over North America. The feeling of familial acceptance would make Waltons’ farm look like the Big Brother household. The excitement was close to overwhelming for Ida, my 91 year-old mother (AKA Mom, Mumsey, Grandma, Great-Grandma and “Auntie Ider”, as my veddy English cousin, Andy and his missus, call her). As Mom received her forty-some hugs as family members arrived, she was practically levitating off her chair. That night, once the tykes (and Great-Grandma) were fast asleep, the young and the stupid (I was one of the latter) stayed up until 3:00 AM, fire-pitting and, star gazing like the ancients before us, who may have occupied that very spot. It’s unlikely, however, that the ancients’ camping supplies included battery-powered illuminated Frisbees or electronic margarita-makers, complete with an ice shaver, like some we had available.
Saturday was Game Day. The games included Ladder-Golf, Bocce, Badminton, and, of course the trophy sport, Frisbee Golf. The more relaxing pursuits were games of Boggle, Crib, Scattergories, Rummikub and crowd favorite, Raiding the Munchies Table. After the feeding frenzy devoured Craig’s hot, delicious, barbecued chicken and enough tasty potluck side-dishes to appease a plague of locusts, it was time for The Big Event.
My niece, Kristy, being the event organizer, retained the right to emcee the “Talent(less)” portion of the program. This was a valiant choice, given she was either in her 39th week of pregnancy, or harboring a Smart Car under her voluminous dress (it was the former, apparently). As tradition dictates, luau attendees, particularly the eight siblings immediately below the matriarch on the depth chart, were required to provide some kind of entertainment. This year’s attempted performances by the eight, included my riddle game-show with chocolate loonie prizes, an ode to rope, and renditions of “The Gilligan’s Island Song”, “Smile Though Your Heart is Breaking” and “Thank God I’m a Country Boy” that should have won medals of bravery given my siblings’ vocal abilities. There was even a poll to finally answer who was the most eccentric among us. My brother, Bob, wearing a cob of corn on his head, won hands down, to the surprise of no one.
Of more interest were the next generation’s entertainment offerings. The younger set’s contributions featured a number of luau firsts. My neice Michelle’s dog obedience display was our first animal act ever, though some say mealtime with 40+ McKerrachers also qualifies. The dog act was hilarious, (“Sit, Molly, sit! Good girl! She even knew I meant to say, ‘roll over!’”) Another neice and er… nephew-in-law(?), Robin and Tim, favored us with a new twist in the form of an energetic jive dance. This was refreshing given that, generally, McKerrachers are not built for dancing, being blessed with all the gracefulness of Joe Cocker being tasered.
The last act was another first. Michelle’s son, Brad, always a quiet boy growing up, who had never before appeared on “McKerrachers Got Talent?” decided it was time. He confidently engaged the crowd; teaching us a strange little ditty that went:
“I may not be the coolest;
and I may not be the smoothest,
but I have an interesting chin.
And I don’t like to play sports.
For fun I read math books.
But I know that Pythagoras is the bomb.”
He told a tale of “a friend” who was romancing a lovely, chocolate-brown girl who initially spurned his attentions. I, along with everyone else in the room, couldn’t help but notice his girlfriend, Alyssa, sitting right beside me, was also lovely and chocolaty brown. The story proceeded; wryly funny and exceedingly well-told. The curious chorus was sung by all, at every prompting. Following the final chorus, Brad flashily slid to one knee before Alyssa and proposed marriage. She accepted with glee and the room erupted with joy, cheers and hankies for not just the ladies. I was so glad I had done my act ahead of Brad’s.
The luau continues as this is being written, so the Frisbee Golf trophy results are not yet in. I just know the winner won’t be me.
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