Sunday, April 13, 2008

Sometimes these things skip a generation

My mother and I were drinking coffee in her kitchen, narrowing down the list of possible baby names for my brother’s first child. He and his wife don’t have so much as a zygote, but they’ve announced that they’re going to be pregnant before the end of 2008. And they’re both doctors, so we have no reason not to believe them.

Of course, rank amateurs like them have no business handling the delicate task of naming their own offspring, so my mom and I took over. We’d just announced our favorite boy/girl names (her: Graeme and Caroline; me: Oscar and Sevilla), when my mom said, “Your grandmother was a gypsy fortune-teller.”

I should preface this by explaining that my mother has a long history of saying weird things at odd moments. “If you were going to murder someone, how would you do it?” she’ll ask, in the middle of a crowded Mexican restaurant. Then, while everyone else at the table is choking on their enchiladas, she’ll add: “I’d use an organic poison that metabolizes as an innocuous waste product. But that’s just me.” So the fact that she'd causally mention that my grandmother was a gypsy fortune-teller in the middle of a discussion on baby names isn’t as bizarre as the fact that my grandmother was, apparently, a gypsy fortune-teller.

Understandably, I asked for clarification. And it turns out that, decked in fine Mediterranean scarves and oversized hoop earrings, Gammie ran a wildly popular divination booth at her small town’s annual Halloween festival.

“Well, was she any good?” I asked.

My mother shrugged. “I honestly haven't a clue,” she said. “The lines were always too long, and I never got to see her. But she didn’t give real readings. She just said nice things to people to make them happy.”

I was both disappointed and relieved to hear this. Disappointed, in that how freakin’ cool would it have been to be able to say, “My Irish grandmother was a real and for true gypsy fortune-teller.” Relieved, because the whole “My grandmother was a witch!” thing has been done to death within NeoPaganism. It started with Alex Sanders, who steadfastly claimed that he was initiated into the Witch Cult at age seven by his dear old granny.

Since then, everybody who’s anybody swears that Grandma had great Witchy power, passed directly on to them. No one ever buys it, but you still have to say it. On account of validity.

So I was thinking about all this, and right on cue, my mother said (I swear to the Gods I’m not making this up):

“Your grandmother also has a flux in her personal electromagnetic field. She's never been able to wear a wristwatch; they just stop working as soon as she puts them on." She took a sip of her coffee. "You know how computers crash around you? You get that from her.”

Then, while I reeled from that little revelation, she added: “You honestly want to name this poor child Sevilla?”

Guess I’m a rank amateur, too. But my Gammie’s still cooler than yours.

10 comments:

Michele said...

Your mom sounds interesting! If only because she makes your life interesting. :)

I know a couple people with the watch-killing EM field. I don't think it's that common... I think I know so many because I hang with a lot of pagan folk.

Evn said...

My mom is definitely interesting. One of these days, I'll have to tell everyone about the Green Men she paints in her art classes.

beweaver said...

Great story. My grandmother's family is from the Caribbean by way of England. When I asked her what they did there she said they were pirates and rum runners. She had no idea that Pirates of the Caribbean was a wildly popular movie at the time. But I have to say I felt my chest swell with pride.

Evn said...

Cynthia, you should be proud! I think we may have some bootleggers somewhere up the family tree, but no pirates to speak of.

Thalia said...

Wow. Your mom actually sounds stranger than my mom.

I had an ancestor who was actually burnt at the stake, but that was a ways back. The crazy half of the family (my mother's side) is very proud of this.

Evn said...

My mom's only as strange as the next 70-year-old Protestant who's accepted the Horned God as her personal savior.

Off the top of my head, I can't think of any ancestors who were burned at the stake. But if there's any merit to the theory of genetic memory, one of us had to have been busted for something or other.

Now, on my dad's side, we're supposedly decended from Robert the Bruce. I suspect a lusty chambermaid was involved.

Cosette said...

My mom also has that habit of busting out with strange random comments at the oddest moments. And yes, your granny is cooler than mine. And yes, you really want to name a child after a city? Is her last name Hilton?

Evn said...

I had a great-aunt named Sevilla. I think it's pretty.

Lisa Adams said...

*laugh* Apparently my family has a curse about watches and stuff. Computers behave for us but anything that tells time and comes in contact with our skin dies. That's why I have a cell phone. As, *blush* I almost never forget to use mine. My grandparents used to complain that even the wind up watches never worked. Of course, I've never actually tested that theory. (My guess is they forgot to wind them *snicker*)

My family is just weird. I'm ok with that these days.

Evn said...

My guess is they forgot to wind them

LMAO This simplest explanation is usually the most accurate.

My family is just weird. I'm ok with that these days.

I just spent three days in close quarters with my family. Endearingly weird though they may be, I'm ready to chew an arm off.