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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Family Stories

This is a little look into my family and why my imagination is as it is:

Ok after some thought about what I write about, I gave thought to my many nights hanging out at my mother’s house. Mom would always say that after 11pm I began to lose my mind because everything that came out of my mouth was hilarious and weird. But yesterday I noticed that it is not just the time of day but it’s the company that I keep when I get into these moods. So I’ve decided to tell the funny stories about myself, my family and growing up…

My Family

There were six of us in total; mom and dad, Stephanie, Vicqui (don’t ask about the spelling…I’ll explain later), Mark and me, Gretchen.

My mother has had a sense of humor for as long as I could remember. Despite the drama that comes with living with an abusive spouse, she kept her sanity and had us kids in stitches.

My dad was very abusive. However when he wasn’t being a tyrant, he was pretty much a big kid with tons of stories. Oh and unfortunately my sister Vicqui inherited a trait from him that still my mother and I feel pity for her about. My dad was always telling tall tales about how he was a cop and almost got shot; reality: he was a security guard with no gun and he tripped on a piece of glass. Yeah, you’ll hear a lot of those as you keep reading.

Stephanie, she is the oldest and at first looks not very funny. One thing though that she used to do that used to crack us all up was chase us around tickling everyone until somebody would fart, then it would all be over.

Now Vicqui (pronounced Vicky but its 2009 so she’s Victoria), was a ham, so she was always trying to do something to get attention. She started to reinvent herself, literally. We were a black family living in Compton, California and somehow my sister managed to become Filipino, Mexican, a gang member of each opposing side, and White/Caucasian all while living in Compton, CA. A true chameleon. Oh and as of today she is French Canadian, Irish, Black and Indian with a fake Italian last name…and the beat goes on… (Don’t be mad Vic … it’s all in good humor, you know I love you!)

My brother Mark (who I miss dearly) was my best friend and a true big brother. I was subject to every experiment, invention or hair brained idea he’d come up with. Because my dad did not know how to be a person and communicate with his kids he’d try to buy our affections, especially my brother. Well Stupid, he is a young boy and by nature their level of appreciation is low for most things purchased new. Once my dad bought my brother a brand new skateboard. It was nice, but Mark wanted to “improve” on it so he found an old plastic milk bottle crate and bolted it down to the new skateboard. He added a 2”x4” piece of wood to the crate, of course so I had a place to sit. Next he attached a piece of rope from the front wheels of the skateboard to the back of the frame of his new bike. As the Guinea Pig I got in the make shift “crate-board” and Mark began to pedal. As he got up momentum he decided to make a turn. I was not an avid skateboarder. Mark yelled behind to me “Lean Grettie, lean!” I yelled back, “I can’t, I’ll fall!” Mark makes the turn anyway and I fall over in the crate. Asphalt and I knew each other very well in those years. Well he stopped the bike and helped me up. He got back on after giving me a crash course in turning a skateboard and continued to pedal down the street. We lived in a trailer park with lots of speed bumps. So here we are riding along and coming home is my dad in his truck. As we crossed over the same speed bump going in opposite directions I saw my dad’s face change. His look went from. ‘Oh my kids look cute” to “What the heck did that boy do to the new skateboard I got him!” Then, in my cutest look, I smiled, waived and said, “Look Dad I can Lean!” then I fell out of the crate again and it would not be the last time.

Now there is me, Gretchen, the youngest of the four Davis kids. Being the typical baby of the family allowed me some luxuries but I was not spoiled. I definitely knew I was the apple of my mom’s eye as were the others but it was different. I was a ham. I sang whenever anyone would listen. Being the youngest though was not all Peaches and Cream. But all that I’ll say is that behind my sweet veneer was a mischievous kid.

I always talked out of turn and fiend knowledge supreme. Case in point: Kindergarten. I sat by a young boy that we’ll call Dante’ who was oh so gullible. I knew this very well. So being the Lil’ Miss Know-It-All in true fashion I’d counsel all my classmates on life. Today was no exception. In the cafeteria we had been served a hot meal with beets as a side dish. Now I was game to try them since they looked like cranberries, you know the ones from the can, yum! After tasting them I thought they were ok. Earlier that week I must have heard or seen something on TV about veggies and heart attacks. So I sat at the cafeteria table next to Mr. Gullible himself Dante’. I asked him why he had not touched his beets. His reply was reasonable and true, “because they make me throw up because I am allergic to them.” My response senseless and untrue, “boy you better eat those beets or else you’ll have a heart attack!” Freaked out and scared to death Dante’ proceeds to eat those beets. Only a few minutes later and he begins throwing up. I scooted over and here comes Mrs. Miller our teacher. “Dante’ why did you eat those beets? You know they make you sick! Why did you eat them?” Snot and crying he replied, “Mrs. Miller, Gretchen told me that I was going to have a heart attack and die if I didn’t eat them.” Of course I looked shocked and appalled. Even to this day I get a swat by my mom when I tell that story.

Fashion Forward

Now we never really had a whole lot of money but mom being her stylish self kept us in style long before Marshall’s and Ross came along. Our favorite place was the Long Beach Thrift Store. Don’t even laugh cause now preppy “A-Listers” go treasure hunting at the local 2nd Hand stores.

But besides the thrift stores mom would take us to Newberry’s and K-Mart. Now there was a brand of jeans that should have been sold on the underground, black market. These jeans were so durable they were more reliable than the mailman. The fabric was denim or so they wanted to you to believe. I think the fabric was grown on cloned sheep on steroids. Instead of mystery meat we wore mystery fabric, we wore…ToughSkins!

These pants lived up to their name. My brother and I were especially rough on clothes. As long as I could remember my brothers’ jeans always had patches on them until mom bought us … ToughSkins! A trademark of the jeans was that they were permanently starched. They were resistant to water, dirt, rips, tears, and bike accidents. The only thing the pants did absorb was funk better known as B.O. and blood. Blood? Yeah yeah blood because your body would absorb the impact of the accident and your skin would burst open on contact but not your…ToughSkins! When it was summertime everyone would cut off their jeans from the previous school year with a regular pair of scissors. Not us! Mom would break out her machete and put on her safety goggles and hack off the legs of our pants. When the machete got dull we’d use Dad’s table saw. Just kidding. But they were some tough jeans. Definitely invented with knuckle-headed children in mind.

Dinner Time

Fried chicken, rice, gravy and corn. A perfect meal in my eyes as a kid. Mom made dinner great! She also had these rules about proper etiquette at the dinner table. No singing, dancing or anything like that at the table. Of course I had a tune in my head one day and we’ll just say that after dinner it was gone.

To this day I sit in front of the TV watching music videos and sing along while eating dinner…Love Ya Mom! J

Complete Meals

Long before pizza was apart of the major food groups and before you could have it delivered (at least in Compton) it was an exciting time when Dad would bring home two larges from Round Table. Unlike most households we would not just eat pizza and drink soda. No! Mom was determined that nutrition and decency was to be apart of every meal, junk or nutritious. We were the only family to have pizza as an entrée along with salad and a vegetable. And of course you could not forget the Kool-Aid. Red please!

Today when I order a pizza at home I can still hear mom say, “Is that a complete meal?” I hear her pretty well too since she is my downstairs neighbor. J


Once I was watching Chris Rock and he said that his family’s cure-all was Robitussin and when there was no more in the bottle they’d put water in the bottle and call it Tussin. Well our family had a cure-all also. Actually it was a treatment combination…tea and the bathroom.

Wishing to be coddled and given prescription medication as a child, my mother would ask what our symptoms were. “Mom my stomach hurts and my throat hurts.” She’d look at me and say, “Did you go to the bathroom?” If we’d say ‘yes’ then part 2 of the treatment was, “Did you have some tea?” And of course we’d say ‘no’. Down to this day and surprisingly true that has cured all my ailments and problems… Don’t ask! J Thanks Mom!