Friday, December 17, 2010

Grillin' Teh 'Dad

I ran 6.34 miles (in 57:30; 9:05 pace) in this weather and I beg to differ with Teh Weather Channel on this "felt like" issue. It was 15 degrees but it FELT LIKE my n*ts@ck had frozen and could be easily shattered into smithereens with one tap of one of those rubber hammer reflex-testing gizmos that doctors have.

That's how it felt at 4:45 a.m.
And so but I, armed with Emy's questions (and my own), and Teh 'Bride, armed with a grade school composition book to take notes, went for our weekly visit to Teh 'Dad's place of residence, where he resides, and were determined to be all, "Spill it, Old Man!1!" to get him to tell us what he knew about the Quislings1

I started off with an easy one, because new-found cousin Emy really wanted to fill in the essentials, and so she'd asked me what about this and I didn't know so I said I'd ask Teh 'Dad: What did the "A." in Glaven A. Quisling's name stand for?

Get this:


Hahahahahaha! Luuuzer! Still, it's a better name than his sister Etheldreda's. And that was her first name.

But Teh 'Dad met my grandfather in like 1948 and the latter was dead by April of 1949, so there wasn't much Teh 'Dad knew firsthand. Personally, I wanted to know why GAQ might have been hated so much by his sister that he'd been Shunned Into Oblivion by her.

I was starting to think it might have had something to do with his sense of humor, because when Frank and Emy contacted me and asked about Glaven A., I tried to remember what Teh 'Mom, in her anecdotes, had said about him. And the first memory I had was this vague one:

G.A. Quisling's parents both died by the time he was like 12, so he was raised by his Uncle Joe, who was known as Teh Monsignor, because he was this Big Wig Catholic Monsignor in NYC and was so famous that his sermons were frequently referred to, and sometimes even printed whole, in the New York Times. And so this guy raised my grandfather and his three older sisters. And Teh 'Mom said the guy was a real Anglophile, even though he was of Irish extraction just like the rest of us Dirty Micks. He used to go to England every year. And one year, he took my grandfather. And on the way back from England, the ship they were on had to dock at an Irish port for a few hours for some reason or other. And so possibly for no other reason than to get Teh Monsignor's goat, Young Glaven ran down the gangplank, knelt on the ground and kissed the Irish soil, then ran back up the gangplank.

I remembered that on my own from what Teh 'Mom had said. What I didn't remember was this:

Teh 'Dad reminded me, when I asked if this story was accurate, that the Monsignor's reprimand to Grandpa Glaven was: "Glaven, once again, you have absolutely disgraced me." 

Hahahahahaha! My grandfather was a bit of a dick! No wonder Teh 'Mom named me after him! Teh 'Mom, by the way — who was always veddy proper and repressed, like her own mother  (my grandmother) — laughed and laughed when she told this story.

And so I asked Teh 'Dad what G.A. Quisling was like; and Teh 'D. sez, "O, he was a terrible razzer!" I asked, "Did he razz you when you and Mom were dating?" And he sez, "No, he didn't razz me, but he was a terrible razzer."

Now, at one point in the e-mail exchange I was having with Emy, she sez that Eleanor, her grandmother (and my grandfather's sister), was a wonderful person, but no one would ever have accused her of having a great sense of humor. And it was at this point that things kinda-sorta started to fall into place.

Because here is one other story I remembered Teh 'Mom's often recounting: Teh Monsignor paid for Glaven's A.'s education (but the sisters? Come on! They were just women! You no more needed to send them to college than you did your family pet), and while in college (at Catholic U., naturally2), Glaven would come home on breaks. And Teh 'Mom sez, "He would administer 'intelligence tests' to his sisters and then pretend to grade them. Afterwards, he would solemnly give the results: 'Alice: Genius. Tedda: Genius. Eleanor: ... Imbecile.' And his sister Eleanor would get so angry! She would insist on taking the test again, naturally achieving the status of 'imbecile' again. And again. And again. It never occurred to her that he was kidding her." 

Hahahahaha! I really wish I had met this guy! What a Class-A Dick (in the good sense)!

And so there, I think, must be the root of Teh Shunning: The younger brother who got the education and was a relentless teaser etc., etc. I can't prove this, but it seems the most likely reason based on the evidence at hand.

Anyroad, don't feel too bad for Eleanor. Teh Monsignor owned this estate, called Ethelwold, in Morristown, NJ — it had its own fucking chapel, for the lurve of Sweet Baby Jebus! — and when he died he left it to his nieces and nephew. Apparently, Eleanor just took up residence there with her family. Teh 'Dad, laughing: "And your grandfather would send her a bill every year for rent due, and she never paid it. He did it just to razz her." Teh 'Dad also said that, when the estate was sold some time in the 1950s, Teh 'Mom wanted him to pursue getting her fair share. But Teh 'Dad refused, saying, "That's your family." (This may have been the only time Teh 'Dad openly defied Teh 'Mom.) Teh 'Mom let the matter drop.
Other revelations:

Teh 'Dad used to stay in the same room as Teh 'Mom's older brother, Glaven, Jr., when he'd come up to NYC to visit her every weekend while they were dating. Glaven was about four years younger than Teh 'Dad. He used to keep the window open in his bedroom no matter what the weather. "I was freezing on some nights!" Teh 'Dad sez. "Finally, I sheepishly went up to your uncle and said [Teh 'Dad's voice gets all quiet here], 'You know, Glaven, I'm kinda feeble. Do you think I could have a blanket?' 'Sure thing, Frank! Here, take three!'"

My uncle Glaven was in the SeaBees during WWII, in the Pacific Theater. Teh 'Dad: "Those guys were dumb as shit!" [Teh 'Bride gets all giggly, here, because she never hears Teh 'Dad cuss, which he rarely does.] "Well, they were nuts, anyway, because they had to volunteer for that! I'm a patriot, but there's no way you would have gotten me to sneak into enemy territory before the invasion to build bridges and whatnot" [which is evidently what the SeaBees did].

I asked Teh 'Dad about how he met and married Teh 'Mom:
I can recall the first day that I met your mother. It was on a blind date. From the first moment when I met her, I knew I wanted to marry her. It wasn't merely her extreme good looks, it was her whole personality. She was completely without pretension and she said exactly what she felt.
I can recall the first day I proposed. We left her New York home to go across the river to Palisades Park. We took a ride on the roller coaster and in the midst of the ride, [Teh 'Mom] lost her purse with some money in it. After the ride, I went into the area where I thought the purse fell. I was scared to death. The coaster cars were whirling around and I was hopping over the wooden structure wondering if I would come out alive. By some miracle, I saw the purse and when I gave it to her I said "Now will you marry me?" All she said was I will think about it.
Hahahahahaha! "I'll think about it"!

This was evidently true, though.

Because when we were kids, we used to ask Teh 'Mom why she'd married Teh 'Dad and she said the the same thing: that he'd proposed and she's responded "I'll think about it." And, according to her (though Teh 'Dad disputes this part), after she gave him that semi-brush off, he kinda made himself scarce. And when he was gone she realized how much she missed him.

Because before dating Teh 'Dad, Teh 'Mom (who was all of 21when they did marry) had been close-to-engaged to her previous boyfriend, whose name was — I swear to Baby Jebus — Romeo A. Lawonga, Jr. Now, I can't swear I spelled "Lawonga" correctly, but that is at least a phonetic rendering of how Teh 'Mom pronounced his name. And we would ask her, "Well, why'd you break it off with him?" And she said she didn't want to go through life as Mrs. Romeo A. Lawonga, Jr., and didn't really want to be part of a family mean or stupid enough to name someone "Romeo A. Lawonga" and then name the next generation of male Lawongas "Romeo A. Lawonga, Jr." and she, Teh 'Mom, just had a vision of herself giving birth to some kid who'd be saddled with the name Romeo A. Lawonga III and she didn't want to do that to an innocent baby.

Basically, this was Teh 'Mom's way of saying she didn't love Romeo A. Lawonga, Jr.

And so but why had she given Teh 'Dad the semi-brush off? Well, even though Teh 'Dad was six years older than Teh 'Mom, she thought he was "a kid" because of how young he looked3 and she wasn't sure she wanted to get married right out of college, etc.

But what attracted her to him?

Teh 'Mom thought all the other "boys" she dated were basically saps. She wanted to talk about books and politics and serious stuff, but they, to her ears, just babbled about trivial things. But with Teh 'Dad, any book she brought up, he'd read and could talk about knowledgeably ... expertly, even. It didn't matter what the subject; he seemed to have read, and understood, everything4. And Teh 'Mom saw these other silly girls kinda throwing themselves at Teh 'Dad (because he was considered what they called in those days "a catch"), but he ignored them and seemed to like the fact that she, Teh 'Mom, was not silly or frivilous.

And that was when she realized she loved him.
1 If you did not read yesterday post, you have no fucking clue what I'm talking about, here. 

But that's not my problem.

2 Incidentally, according to Teh 'Dad: "Your grandfather was accepted at Georgetown in DC. Until the day he left for college, he thought that was where he was going. But on the day of departure, he discovered that Teh Monsignor had enrolled him in Catholic University because Georgetown was too heathen." Even though the latter is a Jesuit University. Teh Monsignor may have been involved in the founding of Catholic University.

Teh Monsignor later paid for my grandfather to attend Fordhan Law, too.

But his chick nieces? Nothing.

3 Understandable: this here is a pic of how Teh 'Dad looked at 27. Teh 'Mom sez Teh 'Dad used to wear homberg hats to try to make himself look older and that every time they went to a dance, his hat would get stolen out of the coat room. And Teh 'Mom hinted that she may have been behind these petty thefts because she was trying to convince Teh 'Dad not to wear hombergs because they were old man hats and he looked like he was 16 and his young head with that homberg on top of it made him look ridiculous.

4 This is true. I remember dinner conversations in my childhood home in which Teh 'Dad had been persuaded to talk about, say, Aristotle's Theories on Drama, and Teh 'Dad would go on for paragraphs. And I remember these mostly because, as one of the youngest kids, I was bored out of my skull by these conversations because I didn't understand them, but my older siblings seemed to. And I despaired of ever being able to understand them.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Pushing Even Further Into Teh Bush

In a recent post titled "A Brief Excursion Into The Tangled Underbrush of Heisenberg Family History" — a possibly unfortunate choice of potentially charged title words that may well have contributed as much as anything else to my blog's being scoped out, however temporarily, by a Polish Porno site, an issue I hope I have remedied with this current post's more subdued, adianoeta-free title — I mentioned that, over the Thanksgiving holiday, I was contacted — via, quaintly enough, actual, honest-to-Jebus dead-treeware letter format (and I couldn't tell you when I last received an actual postman-delivered letter before this) — by a cousin on my mother's side that I didn't even know I had. Seems we share a common set of great-grandparents, his grandmother having been my grandfather's eldest sister.

This cousin — let's call him Frank, not just because that's his name, but also because roughly 47% of my male relatives, on both the Quisling and Heisenberg side, are named "Frank", including Teh 'Dad and my eldest brother; as for the issue of how many of my female relatives are named "Frank", it's just best not to ask — informed me in his missive that he thought (as it turns out, correctly) we might be related. His letter included an obituary from The Terrorist-Coddling, America-Hating Times (now known as The New York Times; of course, back in 1949, New York's name was "Terrorist-Coddling-America-Hatingville" so the Times' old name made sense at the time) for my maternal grandfather, who died roughly 7 months before my parents married. Brand-new cousin Frank knew that that guy was his grandmother's brother and he reckoned that if I were that guy's grandson, we, he and I, would thus be cousins at some remove that only a genealogy geek would know or care about. Which we are; the documentary evidence fully supports this conclusion. But as I noted in that earlier post, what sealed the deal for Teh 'Bride — proved to her satisfaction that this had to be an actual long-lost relative — was this throw-away line in Frank's letter: "One of the reasons for our1 curiosity [about your branch of the Quisling family] is that Glaven Quisling [i.e., my grandfather] was never spoken of by our grandmother or parents."

My namesake, Glaven Q. [1898-1949], had been shunned by his eldest sister — to the point of being "disappeared" from the family history! To which revelation Teh 'Bride's reaction was, "O, they're related to you on you mother's side, all right!" (to understand which (non-seminal) ejaculation, you really would have to go back to that earlier post and read up on the Irish Catholic Tradition of "Shunning", which Teh 'Mom did not invent, but, historians agree, she did perfect). As far as Teh 'B. was concerned, any con artist with as-yet-unrevealed ulterior motives could have dug up the Times obituary to gain my trust before revealing his get-rich-quick-via-Nigerian-royalty scam; but that casual mention of the Quisling Tradition of Shunning simply could not be faked. (Of course it could be now, since I just told all six of you people about it.)

This led to a series of e-mails between, mostly, Emy and me (though I did cc Frank), because as it turns out, it was Emy, not Frank, who really cared about the genealogy of the Quisling Family and she thought I might be able to fill in some gaps for her. (To which the collective reaction of my regular readers should be: Pfffttt! Riiiight.) Because of her grandmother's Shunning-With-Extreme-Prejudice, Emy did not know anything about my branch of the Quislings, and even at one point revealed that she had seen, as a young girl of seven years of age, my grandfather's name on some piece of family memorabilia or other and had asked her grandmother —  Eleanor by name — who this mysterious "Glaven A. Quisling" who was being mentioned in the same breath with Eleanor's known siblings, Alice and (I swear to God) Etheldreda ("Tedda"), might be; to which Grandma Eleanor responded that GAQ was her brother and left young Emy with the impression that he had died in childhood — not a lie, exactly, because he did die, only it was like 30 or so years subsequent to his childhood. And that was the only time Emy had ever heard Eleanor speak of Glaven Q., and even then only because she, Emy, had brought him up.

Emy was trying to pick my brains about the family history of this branch of Teh Quislings so she could fill in her genealogy charts and whatnot, I guess. She actually could not have picked a less appropriate Quisling descendant than I for this task.

Emy foolishly believed I might be able to fill in the gaps going back to when the Quislings came to America from Ireland sometime in the 19th century, but any of that oral history, assuming it ever existed, died with Teh 'Mom back in 2001; and I'm not at all sure it ever existed, because I myself have no memory of Teh 'Mom's ever having spoken of her paternal grandparents much less her great-grandparents. Why would she? They had all died before she was even born and so were probably as alien to her as my maternal grandparents are to me. Plus, I just am not that into genealogy. I always liked the anecdotes Teh 'Mom would tell about her parents and her (maternal) Nanna; and I also liked Teh 'Dad's stories about his parents, who did live long enough for me to remember them. Beyond that, things got murky and too entangled for me to make sense of because, being Irish Catholic on both sides, I had ancestors who bred like rabbits and then fucking named every male child either "Frank" or "Joseph" or "Glaven", so who could keep track?

But I knew my best source for more information on Teh Quislings would be Teh 'Dad, who's 88 now, and whose memory is not, strictly speaking, in the best of shape, a situation made slightly more perilously mine-strewn, informationally speaking, by the fact that Teh 'Dad was always ... not mendacious, per se; let's just say "a bit of a fabulist2" and leave it at that.

And so instead of asking Teh 'Dad about what Emy cared about, I asked him about what I cared about: Why did he think Eleanor had Permanently Shunned my namesake, Glaven A. Quisling3? Among other things.

And so those of you who have waded through this lengthy preamble will be rewarded for it tomorrow because I know many of you lurve Teh 'Dad, and it was to Teh 'Dad that I turned to try to get some answers (while Teh 'Bride took copious notes); and so most of what you'll see in tomorrow's post will be, essentially, transcriptions of Teh 'Dad's memories of his wife's (aka Teh 'Mom's) family.

From Teh 'Bro's Family Treasure Trove (aka, boxes o' crap he rescued from Teh Heisenberg Homestead when we sold it a few years ago):
Glaven A. Quisling (my grandfather); my grandmother; Teh 'Mom (age about 16? mid-1940s?); my Uncle Joe
Teh 'Mom as a toddler with my uncle, Glaven Quisling, Jr.. Somewhere in NYC
Teh 'Dad in uniform, back in the Daze when he was fighting Adolph Hitler, whom Teh 'Dad likes to call "Easy Al" Hitler, who, incidentally, WAS WORSE THAN HITLER!1! (But not as bad as Obama.)
Teh HeisenDad probably around the time of my parents' wedding in 1949? Just a guess. Why else would he be wearing the monkey suit? Incidentally, Ladies, he's single now. I'm telling you that because, well ... HUBBA-HUBBA, am I right? But Ladies, please be tasteful with your remarks in the comments because it IS my Dad, after all. And I swear I will DELETE all comments of the "Where did those looks go when it came to you, G?" nature! I'LL DO IT!1!
 3.1 miles on Morrissey (pussy-@$$ recumbent exercise bike, in case you never made his pussy-@$$ acquaintance) this morning in 10 minutes. I took it easy on him. Also, the usual exercises and yoga with junkless wonder Rodney Yee.
1 The "our" in Frank's letter referred to him and another cousin from his branch of the family, Emy, who lives in San Francisco and who'd done the research that lead to the discovery of this, my, Legendary and Long Lost Tribe of Quislings, and at whose urging he had written me. This took some of the sting out of recent events because, even though the Phillies didn't win the World Series, it's nice to know that one of my cousins, Emy, lives in SF and thus the Title of World Champs of Baseball has at least been kept in the family.

2 Which, according to my Mac's dictionary, means: "a liar, esp. a person who invents elaborate, dishonest stories." Which, yeah, is waaaaay better than calling Teh 'Dad mendacious.

3 For those of you who don't already know this because you only come to this site for the Polish Porno, I was born on Glaven A.'s birthday, which is why my name is Glaven Quisling Heisenberg instead of something lame like "Andrew", which is what Teh 'Mom said she'd have named me if I hadn't clung for dear life on to the walls of her uterus until just past Midnight on May 15, 1960. Actually, it wasn't so much that I clung to anything as it was that I was a breech, emerging @$$-first, which is just about the worst way you can emerge and is especially bad if you're a flat-@$$ed Irish baby; because what is there for the doctor to grab and yank you out by? But I was the sixth of Teh 'Mom's seven children and by this point she was probably capable of popping 'em out like a Pez Dispenser, and so that's why I never heard that I "Nearly Killed" Teh 'Mom from Teh 'Mom herself. No. My oldest sister told me that when I was like 9.

At least she didn't Shun me. Although you know how it is with family: Sometimes a Good Shunning seems vastly preferable.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A Brief Excursion Into The Tangled Underbrush of Heisenberg Family History

Out of nowhere this holiday weekend I got a letter from a supposed cousin of mine whom I've never met. This would be a cousin on my mother's side, the Quislings, Quisling being Teh 'Mom's maiden name, her father having been Glaven Quisling, born May 15, 1899, which those of you who've cared enough to pay attention will recognize as my birthday as well, except mine happened in 1960. And that — the fact that I was born on my grandfather's birthday — is why I was named "Glaven Quiznos Heisenberg" instead of something lame, like Steve Quick, or something lamer still, like Run Bitch Run1.

So anyroad, I got this letter out of the blue from this guy claiming to be the grandson of Glaven Quizgame's sister. Included in the letter was my grandfather's obit from the NYT in 1949.

The fact that the guy could trace himself back to my grandfather, Glaven Quisp, should on its own have been enough to prove he was for real, was an actual relative. But in his letter, he also included the odd but seemingly innocuous factoid that he was curious about my side of the family because his grandmother — my grandfather's sister — never talked about her brother. Obviously, there had been some sort of falling out between siblings, viz., my grandfather and his sister. I read that part to Teh 'Bride and she sez: "O, he's related to you on your mother's side of the family, all right!"

Because my mother was a skilled — nay: unmatched — practitioner of the Art of what Teh 'Bro accurately calls "Teh Shunning". Teh 'Mom, bless her Irish heart, was perpetually not speaking to someone or other. Teh 'Bro had been on the receiving end of this treatment more than once for some unclear transgression or other. (Rule One of Shunning: You never tell the Shunned why he's being Shunned. What fun would that be?) One particular 'Bro-aimed Shunning lasted for over a year, as I recall.

I myself was never Shunned, but that's only because I'm just objectively so goddamned, fucking lovable that you just want to Eat Me Up, not Shun me. I am, in fact, one of the few relatives of Teh 'Mom who wasn't Shunned by her.

Now, I can't say that these Shunnings were all initiated by Teh 'Mom, because if this letter from my long lost cousin proves nothing else, it proves this, at least: that Shunning in the Queequeg Family is pretty much a dominant genetic trait. Teh 'Mom was the Past Master at it — and why wouldn't she be? She had the most practice — but others in my family could Shun Teh Fuck outta you, too. Part of the reason I never really got Shunned is I tend not to notice when I'm being Shunned and not spoken to; I just enjoy the quiet and think of it as a gift.

So, okay, maybe I have been Shunned. I just didn't care enough to notice.

So normally, while I'm enjoying the unusual and welcome quiet of An Unrecognized Shunning, Teh 'Bride has to ruin it by being "observant". She'll ask, "When was the last time your sister called?" And I'll be like, "Who the fuck cares?" And she'll be, "You know, I bet she's mad because of ..." and then she'll name some truly lame "offense" that only someone of Quiply Family Lineage could possibly be mad about, and she'll insist this "offended" my sister and I'll be obliged to e-mail her and Extend Teh Olive Branch.

All because Teh 'Bride has to go and "notice" things!

So anyroad, this guy contacts me to kinda fill in the blanks about my Mom's side of the family. Boy, did he pick the wrong Quakely-Heisenberg! Because our family history is made up of a series of disconnected anecdotes that I vaguely remember Teh 'Mom recounting at various times about people whose names I couldn't keep straight, much less their supposed relation to me, and so these stories've lost, in Whisper-Down-The-Lane fashion, even more useful data in my version. Plus, I just totally forgot most of them, because they are stories about people I never met because they all died before I was born.

In general, my family history is comprised of oral-tradition2 anecdotes. Anecdotes that are impossible, by the way, to string together into anything that even resembles a coherent narrative — coherent narratives being one of the main tools we use to remember long and complicated stories. But for Qiusbro history, you might have this one strand that you know eventually connects up with this other strand, but there's like a decade missing between them and so you can't get there from here without resorting to Fox Newsing it (i.e., making up your own facts). And even if you could connect them? The story they'd tell would be more subplot than plot; you'd end up more Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead  than Hamlet.

But the thing is, I think there may be something more akin to Hamlet — or, better still, King Lear — in my family history, but those stories are probably lost.

I debated even responding to this guy, but Teh 'Bride and Teh 'Dad prevailed upon me, so I e-mailed him and have heard back already. He seems nice enough. I'll keep my distance, though, because I really already have enough family to contend with (there is currently yet another Family Shunning in progress, and who need the potential for more of that bullshit?). Plus, genealogical ties? Meh. Who cares? My adopted son and I share no genes, yet he couldn't be more my son. To me, shared genes are not what makes a family.

At times? They even stand in the way.
November Stats:
Running Miles: 110.27 (1013.4 miles for the year so far)
Walking: 32.73
Total: 143

You will notice that there are still no pussy-@$$ miles from riding my pussy-@$$ recumbent exercise bike because it's still broken. But I should be getting it back from Art's Welding any day now. We took it there a few weeks ago and Art promised to call us next day to tell us if it was fixable. He never did. I finally went there this past Friday and he said it got buried under a pile of stuff but was fixable and that it'd be done that day. We then promptly never returned to get it.

But we will. This weekend.

Other than that, I'm pretty happy because I was hoping to break 1000 running miles for the year, which I did. Now I want to make it 1100. Which I should have no problem doing .

November's 110.27 running miles just edges out March's 110.21 miles for the most of any month this year. And March had one more day than November.

There's a stat I won't Shun.
1 Praise Jebus I dodged those bullets!

2 As opposed to LuMu, who's more from teh anal tradition.