I think I get my sense of humor from my mother. This is not to say that my father isn’t funny because he is, but in more of a “I consistently mistake actors for other actors who look almost exactly alike” (see Bill Pullman and Jeff Daniels or Helen Hunt and Leelee Sobieski) or “I’ll turn off all the lights in the house while you’re mother is out with her friends and scare the ever-loving bejesus out of you with a plastic skull mask.”
Nana though was a natural vaudevillian entertainer for us growing up complete with musical numbers, dancing, magic, and some stand-up comedy (mom always worked blue) but the best part of the Mom Show growing up were the hand puppet shows she would put on for us before we went to bed. These weren’t just single character, free-form, off-the-cuff pleasantries with an audience who was already up well past its bedtime. No, these were epic productions with costume changes, a myriad of voices, accents, songs and a cast of thousands. These were performances that would have us laughing until we nearly pissed out pants. These were the greatest stories every told. Looking back on it now it’s possible that my mother suffered from either schizophrenia or multiple personality disorder and merely used the bedtime puppet extravaganza as a way to hide her dementia when her meds ran out, but since she never went Sybil on us I’m content to treasure these memories rather than recount them under hypnosis to a psychiatrist.
A few months ago, Nana gave us the gift of a hand puppet perhaps in the hope that I would continue her legacy of puppetry with Jack and Adam. The puppet she gave us though is a goat/ewe-like creature that looks like it was on the Free table at a Shari Lewis Estate Sale, has Wicked Witch of the East striped brown and white legs, Pagan eyes the size of Mentos with pupils dilated like it had just freebased a feedbag of cocaine and embedded in its soft palate is a pressure sensitive battery powered sound cartridge that “sings” a line of “The Lonely Goatherd” from The Sound of Music complete with yodeling.
One little girl in a pale pink coat heard
Lay ee odl lay ee odl lay hoo hoo
She yodeled back to the lonely goatherd
Lay ee odl lay ee odl-oo
Lay ee odl lay ee odl lay hoo hoo? Seriously? Rodgers and Hammerstein, I dare say either you were fucking with us or this was not one of your better efforts.
Lamentably, Adam laughs whenever the damn goat’s voice box is activated. What’s worse is that due to the countless times THE DAMN GOAT’S VOICE BOX HAS BEEN ACTIVATED Jack can sing the entire song by heart. You know, couple this with his troubling Macarena fixation and the fact that he is still oftentimes mistaken for a girl, I’m thinking we better buy our tickets for the 2022 Tony Awards soon.
Needless to say, I have not carried on Nana’s tradition of the bedtime puppet show if only because I’m afraid the kids on the playground will pummel Jack if he launches into a rendition of Oklahoma’s “The Surrey with the Fringe on Top”. I will however carry on a Pop’s tradition by scaring the yodel out of Jack as soon as my plastic skull mask arrives in the mail.
(Happy Birthday Nana.)