“Shut UP . . . and have fun!”
This almost perfect recipe for life itself is compliments of that great philosopher and nervous boater, my mother. Though she would not think so, I think it captures the essence of what we should be doing on this earth while we’re given the chance. It was delivered to my siblings, me, and my college roommate on a very fast, almost deafening boat ride on a particularly choppy bay down the street from our house, with my daddy driving the boat, my mother in the passenger seat yelling at him to slow down, and all of us packed in the tiny stern of the boat, convulsed in laughter, tears rolling, crossing our legs in discretion.
It’s funnier if you knew my mother. I’m sure she was a little frightened by the waves and the speed and maybe a little mad at Daddy for “going all out” to entertain the troops in the rear at the risk of our very lives. To her, our uncontrollable laughter was the breaking point, the final straw, the match that lit the fire, and every other cliché in the Encyclopedia of Clichés. She had had it with all of us. So she did her “Slow Turn,” created and perfected through years of raising three young whippersnappers; pulled herself up to full sitting position in front of and above us; and let it fly. “Shut UP!” (That had always been a BAD phrase in our house.) “And have fun!” (She had to add that, of course, to soften the blow lest my visiting roommate think she had used that bad phrase before.) Well, we all, my roommate included, fell into the floor of the boat holding our stomachs and screaming with laughter. Daddy had heard her loud, insistent, I-MEAN-it command and her sweet, equally insistent invitation to enjoy ourselves in the process—-and he started convulsing while trying to steer the boat.
I will say–the day did not quite end with the same level of hilarity as on the boat ride, but we did smile often through a quiet little dinner with Daddy. Oh, how we all loved our inimitable mother! One-of-a-kind.