Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Family Falls Out

I met Zirpu in July of 2001, and the following June we went to Houston for his grandmother's 95th birthday. His grandmother lived with his mother and stepfather, and his dad, stepmother, sister and her boyfriend (now husband), and brother, sister in law, and nephew were all going to be there for the party. I knew that this was THE MEET, but I wasn't particularly nervous about meeting his family. I think he might have been more nervous, in fact.

When Zirpu introduced me to Nana, he spoke very loudly and in his full-on Texas accent, which he doesn't use most of the time, into her hearing aid. He told to me later that with her hearing being what it was, he wanted to use the voice Nana was used to hearing, but by then he'd been back in his accent all afternoon and evening, whoever he was speaking to.

We were all sitting at the table and Nana was having a hard time understanding what was going on. Her hearing aid wasn't working properly, and we could all hear it whistling feedback. Sissy's husband wears hearing aids and he was joking with Nana that the whistles were messages from the aliens that only he and she could receive. Nana continued to complain that she either couldn't hear anything or could only hear the whistles.

Suddenly, she cried, "These batteries are deader than HECK!" The whole family laughed and laughed. Zirpu had tears in his eyes; his mother almost laughed herself out of her chair. People were banging the table with their hands, holding their sides, laughing and laughing. Nana was giggling merrily with everyone else.I thought it was funny too, but I thought the family's reaction was kind of extreme.

Once he caught his breath, Zirpu explained into my ear that his grandmother had been married to a preacher and was a very proper lady. None of them had ever heard her use a such a strong word as "heck" before.

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