Saturday, September 2, 2017

How my father raised a bunch of (tea) potty-mouth anarchists

SONS IN ANARCHY: From left, Me, Ed, Pat, Tom Sr.,
Tom Jr., and Alex
When we were little, my brothers and sisters and I frequently rode around in various motor vehicles with my dad, Tom. Most often we were in the family pick-up truck but sometimes Dad drove a car and--because he and his brother owned a fleet of buses--we were frequently the only passengers in a 44-passenger motor coach.

Whatever we were in, Tom had a dad-thing he did: When he saw a police cruiser he said, "The police! Duck!'

It's not that we were doing anything illegal. He just thought it was funny.

And while this is not the point of my story, I think the "duck-it's-the cops" thing was in fact subversive because I realized the other day that my entire family is a bunch of anarchists. I discussed this with my sister Norma recently and we agreed that no Carter in history has ever obeyed the law just because it's the law. That many of the laws of the land happen to be more or less in sync with our own values is a convenient coincidence, but getting a Carter to play by the rules just because they're the rules? Forget it! But that's material for another day.

Back to Dad.

 FUZZ IN A BUS: In one of these units,
 our entire family could hide from
the cops
Another Tom/dad thing? When one or more of us did something that made him angry, rather than yell or lash out, he just hummed. A little melody. Always the same, it sounded like a slow, drawn-out version of the first few notes of that old folk song "Shortnin' Bread." All I do know for sure is that if we heard humming, Tom was steamed.

Other times, he signaled irritation by whistling. Very softly. Like a teakettle before it hits full throttle.

And until I wrote that last sentence, I had completely forgotten this: When Tom saw something that might make you say "holy cow!" or somebody else say  "well go figure!" Tom's go-to expression was--you'll like this: "holy ol' teapot, cream-jug and sugarbowl."

Seriously. How weird is that? He was the only person I've ever heard use that expression; and I just spent the better part of the last 30 seconds Google-searching to see if anybody else ever said it, and nothing.

I'm going to believe Tom coined "Holy ol' teapot, cream-jug and sugarbowl"  and if I ever form a band I'm calling it Holy Ol' Teapots.

Which brings to mind one of the first times I recall  Tom ever using what I considered a swear. (Which is probably why most of us Carters don't cuss much. I think the pottiest mouth of all of us is my sister Mary, and she used to be a Nun! Most of the others? They're so non-foul mouthed it verges on embarrasing!)

Anyway, Dad was talking about a passenger on his bus who'd had too much to drink and when they got to her stop, he opened the bus doors, she stepped down, tripped, and ended up --and I quote:  "ass over teakettle in the ditch." What a great description! And it begs the question--what part exactly is your teakettle?

Get this:  I just Googled "ass over teakettle."  And what I got was a message from my late mom in heaven.

About "ass over teakettle, the Urban Dictionary has this to say and I'm not making it up: "Used frequently by weird Canadian mother-in-laws. 'Damn, Tom got really wasted and fell out of his chair, ass over teakettle'." 

1 comment:

  1. That's # 22, one tough machine, sometimes someone would call it other names cause you worked hard driving this around ( pre power steering didn't help )