Today we have a special FIRST on the weblog. It’s our first guest post, and I’m thrilled.
Christine (aka Oxymoroness of Etiquettehell) posted this story there, and it’s too good not to request permission to pick it up and carry it over for the readers here. If you have kids, if you ever were a kid, or if you’ve ever done anything that made your guardian angel wish angels could get mind-blowingly drunk, then this is the story for you.
It’s with great excitement I present to you, courtesy of Christine/Oxymoroness: Mr. Hooper’s Viking Funeral.
The summer before 1st or 2nd grade, my cousins (all 5 of them … well 4 to start with, one was adopted before they left) and their parents moved from Texas to PA. So in my parents small 3 bedroom house with a den were crammed 4 adults and 7 children (in order of age):
Cousin L (the insanely smart girl, but good one)
Cousin J (also really smart girl)
Cousin T (mentally disabled girl, older than me in age, but younger in intelligence),
Cousin LA (younger girl than me and a bit of a brat)
Cousin S (the adopted baby boy).
My parents and aunt and uncle were frantically house-hunting and in the process realized that taking along 7 kids for the ride wasn’t always the most practical thing in the world. So at times they would take Cousin T, Cousin LA and Cousin S leaving Cousin L and my Brother to watch me and Cousin J.
Now although I was the youngest by far of the four, I tended to relate to them the most, so in reality it was all of us watching all of us. Whoever stepped out of line got tattled on. There were a few simple rules.
1. Don’t leave the house.
2. Don’t damage the house.
3. Don’t damage each other.
4. Don’t let anyone in the house (except the cops and paramedics — at which point you need to review Rule 3.)
5. If you think we would disapprove, you’re probably right, don’t do it.
It was on one of those hectic days with all the adults gone that we learned that Mr. Hooper on Sesame Street had died.
We all loved Mr. Hooper, who wouldn’t … he was Mr. Hooper! Mildly depressed, we wondered if there was going to be some sort of Sesame Street funeral. Not certain that Mr. Hooper wasn’t going to be honored quite the way he should, someone (I don’t remember who) suggested that maybe we should bury him somehow.
Well, anyone remember those nearly-indestructable Fisher Price plastic figures? I had a Sesame Street set that had a … Mr. Hooper!
Perfect! But what about the order of services? Well, leaving the house was out. The parents were gone. Flushing down the toilet really wasn’t an option because we all knew that Fisher Price characters either floated, or (if the toilet were strong enough) would likely clog the toilet up … and that broke Rule 2. (Besides, a goldfish funeral just didn’t seem right for Mr. Hooper.)
It was Cousin L who had been studying Vikings that year in school. She described a Viking funeral to us and it was perfect! Send Mr. Hooper off in a blaze of glory (even if it was his plastic doppelganger)!
Cousin L laid out the set up. We’d need a boat (preferably something flammable), some water, and fire!
Cousin J figured out what materials would likely hold up Mr. Hooper over our miniature sea (a cookie sheet filled with water). Brother did the actual construction (he was very good at scale models, even then!) while J and I did the art work (sail, etc.)
Brother knew where my mom kept her spare lighters (she smoked then) — and which ones worked (he tried to get her to quit by dumping out the lighter fluid and replacing it with water).
Finally we were set. Mr. Hooper lay in state in our popsicle-stick and paper boat afloat our ocean-in-a-pan. Cousin L and J said a few words, Brother lit the boat and I launched it off to the other side of the pan.
Surprisingly, we actually got a pretty decent flame going, and by the time it reached the other side, it fell apart in the water and extinguished itself.
Seeing as how burning the house down was a direct violation of Rules 2 and 5 … we had some extra glasses of water ready just in case.
In my office I have a drawing Mr. Oxy drew for me of my guardian angel. He’s clutching a beer and shaking.
So we cleaned everything up (including a half-melted Mr. Hooper) and went about our daily business. The parents came home about an hour later, and despite the cookie sheet in the drying rack, nothing seemed out of place. Eventually my mom did find Mr. Hooper, but chose not to ask.
Much, much later when talking about that summer we lived with our cousins, the Mr. Hooper Viking Funeral story once again came to light. Fortunately, my mom is at the point where now it is really funny.
Lately, she’s been pretty quick to point out that … I’m next!
Picture by Jim Wright. Thanks so much to Christine and Jim for allowing me to post their story and illustration on my weblog! (And by the way, you can go visit their Cafepress store at http://www.cafepress.com/wbsmartart.)