I will blame this maudlin exhibit of nostalgia on two events from this past week: I had a birthday and my imaginary childhood husband passed away.
I could launch into a monologue about the Depression and the Great War. But, while I may feel that old, in reality I’m not.
Instead I will now launch into a monologue about being a little kid in the 60’s during the Not So Great War.
A few houses down from us lived a family by the name of McRuffian.
(This is not their actual name but I figured I’d made it pretty far in life without being sued so thought I’d keep that going. Plus, I’m totally loving this whole fictitious name thing. Our milkman was named Milky VonLactose. See…nothing but fun!!!)
I’m not sure how many kids the McRuffians had but there seemed to be a herd of them running around and terrorizing the neighborhood like a scene out of Clockwork Orange.
In fact, in our house, one of the worst things you could hear from our parent’s mouth was “Don’t be a McRuffian!” It snapped you out of whatever inappropriate and cruel behavior you were participating in immediately. The very name turned your blood to ice.
It seemed to me that Mrs. McRuffian was never fully clothed. I only saw her in a slip. I’m sure she wore clothes at some point but I, honestly, have no memory of it. In my mind I will always see Shelley Winters – disheveled and lusty.
To me, she was exceptionally intriguing. Oozing sexuality when, in reality, I think she was just tanked early in the morning. And, probably with very good reason.
But, to my romantic sensibility, that house was the Minnesota version of a steamy Tennessee Williams play. Drunk, sexy mother raising a house full of men’s men.
I wonder if she called her husband Big Daddy….
By the way, I know there was a Big Daddy somewhere in that house but I can’t come up with a single memory of him.
Mickey McRuffian was my first kiss….and it grossed me out because I thought he was a troll.
Anyhoo, my best friend was Matt Snottowski (see, again, so much fun!!), one of 11 kids that lived down the road from us. He had a perpetual stream of green snot running out of his nose but he let me boss him around so you all have him to blame for how pushy I am. He was my childhood enabler.
We played house a lot. I’d put on my mom’s apron and put some Andy Williams on our giant console record playing machine.
(Go look up “records” in the Google, kids.)
Andy Williams, to me, was the perfect husband. He seemed clean and looked like he smelled like Christmas. He sang of romance and wore the hell out of cardigan.
I’d greet my phlegmy pretend husband at the door to the sounds of Moon River as he carried a paper sack that was supposed to be a briefcase. He’d put the “case” down at the door, sit down on the couch and say “Get me a beer.”
To which I replied “Get your own damned beer and get me one while you’re at it.”
Clearly, I was ahead of my time.
(Oddly, I started this post right before Andy Williams passed away this week. So, a tip of my fedora to you, Andy! Perhaps we will marry in another life. And I bet you would get your own beer.)