You Met The Flintstones, Now Meet The Rubbles

When I was young, my Auntie Anne swept me off on a series of trips that gave me some life experiences I wouldn’t have otherwise had. I traveled to Chicago at age 7 where I had chocolate mousse for the first time and fell asleep every night looking out over the city skyline.  At 12 I went to New York and saw my first Broadway play, Dreamgirls.  I was also offered drugs for the first time and remember saying to the man, “I’m 12!  Are you serious?” At 19 I went to Europe.  There I was transfixed by Michelangelo’s David, nearly starved to death in France because French food smelled weird, and made out with an Italian boy whom I have never forgotten.  Luigi. Good grief, he was pretty.

Luigi, Jimmie, Martie, Alessandro

Luigi, Jimmie, Martie, Alessandro

I look back on all of those trips fondly and while I think Auntie Anne does, too, I also think she spent an enormous amount of time rolling her eyes in frustration with me. For example, I did the following:

  • Turned down an opportunity to see Cats because I very much wanted to watch the movie Beat Street. No, I’m not joking.
  • Fell asleep in the car every time we shut the door and set off on a sightseeing tour of Europe. In my defense I had just finished taking college finals the week before and I was severely overtired. But I missed all of the castles and about a thousand mountain overlooks.
  • Refused all food with hair on it (anchovies). Also, Martie and I campaigned heavily for a McDonald’s trip in Paris. Paris, France. McDonald’s. Even this makes me roll my eyes.

I’m so incredibly thankful for all of those experiences, for any experience Auntie Anne offers me actually, and I’d very much like to think of myself as the Auntie Anne equivalent to Pooh and Tigger. I have not yet offered them a trip to Europe or their very own opportunity to be coerced into scoring some drugs on a New York City street, but I have offered each of them a road trip once they hit an appropriate age.  That age is somewhere in the neighborhood of 12/13, and this was the year Pooh hit the mark.

Now, remember when Woney and her relatives invited me to their family gathering wherein we were scheduled to have cookouts and s’mores and parties and instead we moved furniture? It was with large apologies and assurances of no repeat furniture movings that the relatives re-invited me to a new family gathering, this time at the Rubbles’ house, wherein we were scheduled to have cookouts and junk food and parties, and I was promised that the most strenuous moving I would have to do would be 1) the placing of my air mattress in a location that made me happy, and 2) the elbow grease necessary to move the beer from a chair arm to my mouth. I was encouraged to bring Pooh who only had to perform the strenuous exercise of changing out of play clothes into a bathing suit, and since this seemed to suit us both just fine, Pooh and I took off on our first ever road trip together.

I must confess, I hoped Pooh and I would have some heart-to-hearts during the six-hour drive.  Just really connect.  And while we did have some of that, Pooh, in the same vein as me taking every opportunity to catch up on sleep once I was safely buckled into the vehicle, took every opportunity to catch up on her social media correspondence once she was safely buckled into the vehicle. Every few seconds she’d pluck her phone from its resting spot in the door handle and scroll through Instagram and/or watch a marching band video whilst she sprawled out in her seat that was ratcheted back into the napping position.  Also, I thought she’d want to snap some pictures of the scenery we cruised through to share on her Instagram page but when I looked at her phone later, every image was one like this:

Take One

Take Two

Take Three

Take Four

I suppose there were some moments where I rolled my eyes in frustration but mostly I found it fascinating to watch a teenager just be a teenager in the most teenager-y way, much like how I acted on my many trips with Auntie Anne when I brashly chewed my grape bubble gum and plugged my ears with my Walkman around my giants wings of hair. A whole different world than where I live right now.

Enough about Pooh. Let’s talk about the Rubbles. What a gorgeous lot of people they are and what a party we had.  These are some mere samplings of what those three days entailed.

Minutes after arriving for the weekend, Pooh and I were plied with plates crammed full of food and then hustled into our swimwear for an evening in the lake. I had already met all the new-to-me Rubbles, received quite a few hugs which were polite and sweet, but in the lake I got the full family treatment which just solidified the message that I was part of the clan.  Phred, Woney’s brother, came barreling down the dock and as he jumped over our heads into the lake, beer in hand, he bellowed, “Jimmie, I want to be in your blog!”  He went under, beer still above water (and, despite the cannonball splash, undiluted by lake droplets), and came up grinning, glasses askew.  I almost said, “You need to do something blog-worthy then,” but realized that a cannonball into murky waters while keeping a fresh beer intact was quite enough to have him canonized here.

Another family member, Cousin BamBam (he’s going to be so happy with me), was lured down into the kid-filled basement by promises of I don’t know what, and as I was checking on Pooh I kept hearing him say, “My very conservative family is going to croak when they see this. You just wait.” I couldn’t actually see him but I could hear him and eventually realized he was at the center of a wild flurry of flailing teenage arms, makeup brushes and glitter.  You know that gruesome television show where a herd of wild cats takes down an antelope in one unified play, fur flying and the occasional claw and tuft of hair being thrust out?  It was like that except sweeter, and BamBam emerged from the fray with a face full of makeup and a grin that split his face.  The girls were enormously pleased with themselves at his glittery makeover and he seemed to be pleased as well as he destroyed his corn hole competitors with a very red, very sexy mouth yet in a very manly way.  Didn’t seem to me that his conservative family was all that conservative because no one really seemed to bat an eye or hug him any less, that giant straight, furry, fun man.  He and the girls were just being family, playing together and practicing their makeup skills.

Pretty, pretty

Pretty, pretty

I had a few moments of concern for Pooh, wondering if she’d get along with the other kids that were there, but around bed time she was snatched away to the basement to set up camp and tell stories. She was ridiculed mercilessly for her choice in blanket (Alabama) but since the ridicule was from the kid stuffed up under a Gators blanket, no one took it very seriously.  She was part of the makeup frenzy and part of clean up duty and got just as many hugs over the weekend as I did.  She was never asked to move furniture but honestly, the both of us would have happily participated in that because that is what families do.  The whole weekend was just gorgeous.  These people were just gorgeous.

There’s one more person I want to talk about, one more pseudo-family member, and funnily enough, he didn’t ping my radar at all. I have no special stories about him because he was simply no different than anyone else.  I hugged him and yapped with him and listened to him ask his daughter if she had enough to eat, ask his wife if she needed anything, took the beer he offered to me.   He was easy and fun and just . . . family. His name was Scott, and the Monday after we all returned to our regularly scheduled lives, Scott passed away in his home.  He was young and his heart was enormous, you could tell, but it was not enormous in the way that leads to long life. When I heard the news, I was devastated like any pseudo-family member would be. What a sucky, terrible, awful thing to happen to such a lovely man, such a lovely family.  Only now, three or four months later, can I see what a weird, twisted blessing that was for all of them.  To send Scott home to God with a heart and head full of memories of a whole weekend stuffed full of love and laughter and family – what a nice gift to give.

In summation, I would like to say, “Hey Flintstones! Hey Rubbles!  I love you guys!  I’m so sorry for your loss.  Thank you for inviting me in and giving me so many hugs!  I’ll be in your moving party any time!”


Sunset Two