Posts Filed Under Family Life

Bessie

posted by Momo Fali on March 2, 2009

When I turned 16 years old, my mom bought me a used car from one of her co-workers. After she brought it home, I gleefully jumped inside to go for my first solo ride.

I went exactly two blocks before the power steering went out as I was turning a corner. All you modern youngsters may not know what I’m talking about, but when the power steering went out on a car made in the mid-seventies, you were no longer trying to drive an automobile. I would compare it to a cruise ship…or maybe a planet. A planet whose orbit you are trying to control with only the power of your biceps.

I got my second car a couple of weeks later (yet, for all intents and purposes it was really my first…two blocks does not a first car make). It was a hand-me-down from my pregnant sister, who could no longer climb over the center console to get to the driver’s seat. Why didn’t she just open the driver-side door? Because it didn’t open. At all.

It was a 1977 Oldsmobile Cutlass, and that door wasn’t the only thing that malfunctioned. One time, I went to make a left-hand turn and the entire turn signal stick broke off and fell to the floor. I couldn’t drive over 55 mph without the tape cassette ejecting and flying into the back seat, and once when I was unlocking the only working door, the entire lock mechanism came out with my key.

My mom often tells stories about her first car. She had three young kids when some people from her work felt sorry for her and gave her a very old, very used jalopy. There were no seats in the back so my sisters had to stand, which had an added hazard because there was also a hole in the floor. And, and those three young kids could often be seen giving the car a push to get it started.

Speaking of pushing…my cousin’s first car had a broken gas gauge. Since she was old enough to drive, and I wasn’t, guess who got to push it every time it ran out of gas?

I went through three other used cars before, in 1997, I bought my first new car and have been driving it ever since. It’s the only car my kids have ever known me to drive and they have affectionately named her, “Bessie”.

Coming home from school the other day, Bessie was making some strange sounds when I looked in the rear-view mirror and said to the kids, “Bessie is getting old. I don’t know how much longer she’ll be running.”

My 10 year old daughter matter-of-factly said, “Well, when we get a new car we still have to keep this one.”

I laughed. “No. We won’t be keeping this one. Why would we do that?”

“I don’t know. Just so we could look at it, I guess. Can’t we keep it in the driveway?”

I replied, “No. We can’t keep it in the driveway. We don’t have room in the driveway to keep cars just so we can look at them.”

She said, “Aw! That really stinks!” She was genuinely upset about it.

But, what she doesn’t know is that I’m planning to drive Bessie for five-and-a-half more years…so it will be in perfect condition to hand over to my daughter as her very first car.

Time Me

posted by Momo Fali on February 20, 2009

I was born long after my siblings. By the time I came into this world, my three older sisters were just starting to explore it. It was 1971 and they were 16, 15 and 13. Can you say, “Hippies”? Good. They had a terrarium in their bedroom and I’m pretty sure they weren’t growing ferns.

Thankfully I had cousins who were older than me, but not so much older that they wouldn’t engage in games of kickball, tag, and my personal favorite…”football, football, who’s got the football?” We made that one up. Don’t ask.

We all gathered together at my Grandma’s house at least three times a week. There were Nerf-basketball tournaments, endless games of Monopoly, and one heck of a lot of laughs. And every single Thursday my Grandma let us order pizza. Need I even say it? Thursdays at Gram’s house were the best.

There were usually seven cousins there on various days throughout the week, but one of us never had to leave when it was time to go home.

My cousin, Kevin, had a form of muscular dystrophy and he lived at my Grandma’s house so she could take care of him while his mom worked. We never really noticed Kevin’s disability. I mean, there was the whole thing about him not walking…but if it weren’t for that, we wouldn’t have been able to have wheelchair races in the backyard.

Kevin was a sports enthusiast like none I have ever known. He knew every player and their stats, on every team, college or professional, in every sport. He also had an incredible sense of humor.

The combination of the two would reveal itself once in a while and he would ask his sister and me to run up the street to a market and buy baseball cards for him. Those were the Pete Rose years, so we made a lot of trips.

We never wanted to go though. So Kevin would bribe us by giving us the bubble gum that came with the cards. When we tired of that, he tried something different.

Knowing how competitive we were, he would tell us that he would time us to see if we could get there and back within 10 minutes. He would start counting backward and we would fly up the street.

It never failed that as we were breathlessly running back in the front door of Gram’s house, baseball cards in hand, he would say, “…three, two…Oh! You guys just made it!” It took us a long time to figure out his scam. We were some smart kids.

Last night when I was tucking my son in bed he asked me to get a toy he had left downstairs. He said, “Let’s see if you can get it in three seconds.”

Now we don’t live in a mansion, but I am also not the Bionic Woman. I replied, “I can’t go downstairs to get your toy and be back up here in three seconds.”

He smiled and said, “Let’s see.”

As I started to descend the steps I heard him say, “Three, two…”. I grabbed his toy, went back upstairs and walked into his room just as he said, “…one. You did it!”

Kevin died in 1991, not long after his 29th birthday. But, darn if he isn’t still scamming me.

Drama King

posted by Momo Fali on February 16, 2009

We were sitting in a restaurant last night enjoying a family dinner, when my six year old son heard a song he liked. As he often does (especially at church when the choir is singing), he cocked his head back, opened his mouth and began to lip sync. Though it doesn’t look as much like lip syncing, as it does an open-mouthed howl minus the sound.

I turned to him and rhetorically asked, “You sure do like to be dramatic, don’t you?”

He then gave his eyes a big roll, threw up his hands and sighed deeply before asking, “What’s dramatic mean?”

The Sound of Music

posted by Momo Fali on January 27, 2009

I normally don’t touch on anything too deep around here, but I am about to reveal some very troubling information from my past. Really, really bad music choices.

It all started when I was five years old and would lock myself in our bathroom where the acoustics were best. I would take my handy-dandy tape recorder and belt out “The Way We Were”, and my childhood theme song, “Rhinestone Cowboy”. Also, whenever Donny and Marie were on you couldn’t peel me away from the television.

When I was seven, I got an 8-track player. One with a shoulder strap so I could walk down the street, looking cool, while The Village People, Olivia Newton-John, and The Bee Gees blasted from the speaker.

After that, I moved on to Journey, Loverboy, Prince, and Pat Benatar. Wait. I was Pat Benatar. Then Night Ranger, Van Halen, and Bon Jovi.

In high school, I was all over the place. I listened to pop music, like U2, but obscure bands played on the sound-system at my very contemporary, retail sales job and I liked that music too.

This is also when I developed my love for Led Zeppelin, Joni Mitchell, and what my best friend refers to as “hippie music”. My husband calls this my tree-hugger period. Whatever, dude. If that’s the case, I will forever be hugging trees. Trees are groovy and Stephen Stills rules.

My husband is also a Zeppelin fan and he’s more than fond of Metallica, my son likes classical music, and my daughter gets her kicks from country. We have learned to get along. We have learned to appreciate each other’s music. Well, except for my daughter’s taste in country tunes. Unless, of course, it’s “Rhinestone Cowboy.”

Tell me, boys and girls, what do you listen to?