Dear Family and
Yes, it’s time for another holiday newsletter. A newsletter
in which finding new and highly amusing ways of insulting one’s spouse and spawn is always held in high regard. Ever
have one of those years you’d rather forget? It was this year for the Franklins. And 2013 wasn’t even over before
the fun began! This year pigs flew, monkeys came out of Joe and Nancy’s butts and Hell became an ice skating rink. Thank
God neither Joe nor Nancy said “Over my dead body!” because clearly that was Jimmy and Taylor’s goal for
When Thomas Wolfe said “You can’t go home again”
he clearly wasn’t thinking about Taylor, now 22. Not only can you go home again, your parents will insist
upon it when you streak across the sky like the Hale-Bopp comet and flame out somewhere over Tempe, Arizona. Maybe it was
the living arrangements that, by comparison, made the TV show “Hoarders” look like an art installation. Maybe
it was the out-of-state-tuition. Or maybe it was the out-of-state tuition coupled with Taylor’s suggestion that a degree
in “multi-disciplinary studies” was a guaranteed launching pad to success. After carefully explaining that classes
such as “The Social Implications of ‘Here Comes Honey Boo-Boo’” or “Emoji Studies” look
good only to your BFFs, Taylor is now getting a cot and three squares a day at her parents’ detainment facility. She’s
working full time as a front desk supervisor at the LAX Marriott Courtyard while waiting to get into Cal State Dominguez Hills
and complete her degree in hotel management, because “hospitality” is just three letters away from where her parents
will put her if she doesn’t.
Jimmy turned 23 this year and while it’s
clear that Jimmy’s brain synapses have not yet connected, Nancy and Joe are happy to report that the Marine Corps still
has him in its custody. And apparently no helicopter he’s worked on has fallen from the sky. After Jimmy’s last
couple of “adventures” with both cars and girls—this is where the phrase ‘crash and burn’ is
most appropriate—Jimmy was sent on his first deployment to Okinawa, Japan, with 200 of his fellow detainees. The boys
left on Mother’s day or, as Nancy calls it: The. Best. Mother’s. Day. Gift. Ever. They arrived just in time for
typhoon season—six months of rain so intense you start looking for animals arriving dockside in pairs. And since Okinawa
is on the glide path for typhoons, the Marines generally order the minions to lock down in their barracks with canned meals
and bottled water. These brief periods of enforced incarceration afforded Jimmy time to reflect on the order his parents gave
him before he left: Of all the souvenirs you can bring home to delight your parents, a Pachinko Palace bar waitress bride
is not one of them.
And it came to pass that one hellacious month followed another,
and Joe and Nancy decided to take a pair of “brollies” and head to Japan to check up on Jimmy.
There is a lot to like about Japan. The sushi is as fresh as a Disney mermaid, purchases are artfully swaddled in
paper tighter than Nancy’s butt in Spanx, and your abs get a workout from all the bowing. And, if you’re Joe,
you fall in love. With a toilet. Specifically the one in Nancy and Joe’s hotel room in Kyoto.
Joe disappeared into that bathroom and didn’t come out for three days. When he did, it was to declare (in a
rapturous voice previously only used when describing Angelina Jolie) that in some countries what that toilet does would require
a marriage license. Sure, every husband wants to have his wife’s light go on and lid fly up when he enters, as if to
say “take me,” then disguise his ‘business’ with the sounds of a babbling brook, warm his bum, hose
and dry his personal parts and automatically whisk it all away. Ain’t no way Nancy is ever going to do that and she
told Joe he could spend as much time as he wants with his porcelain goddess.
Joe had to leave the amazing toilet behind so they could go to Okinawa. With Jimmy liberated for four days, they headed to
the small island of Zamami with plans to relax and snorkel. And here is where the language barrier clicked in because no matter
how many hand gestures you use, you will not get into your hotel, or any other establishment on Zamami Island, without a wad
of cash. No worries, the Franklins were told. It’s Sunday, but the one and only ATM at the Post Office (a small, mobile
home on concrete blocks, which also doubles as the island’s business center, bank, courthouse and social center) is
available. So off they headed where, to the sound of Joe screaming “Nancy, NOOOOOOOO!,” Nancy managed to put her
bank card into the machine the wrong way, jamming the machine and rendering it inoperable.
And so it was that Nancy collapsed the fragile Zamami Island economy. It wasn’t long before a line started
forming in back of the Franklins; businessmen, building contractors, housewives with their kids, all standing around staring
at the one woman who had brought commerce to its knees. Jimmy, figuring out that his memorized phrase for ordering sake would
not bridge the communication abyss, used his military training to put as much distance as he could between himself and his
parents. Joe, having picked up the emergency phone next to the ATM, determined that making himself understood would be a bridge
too far, even for him, and began gesticulating and drawing hieroglyphics (“W-E-L-L-S F-A-R-G-O”)
on deposit receipts with one of the businessmen. Nancy crouched, whimpering, in a corner. The businessman, having correctly
assessed the situation and determined that the Franklins were crazy, took out his personal phone and made a call.
And, lo, an angel of the island appeared unto them from the darkness of the post office.
And the Franklins were sore afraid. The angel went before them, a great light in a Seattle Seahawks (!) jersey, and stood
over the place where the ATM was. “Do not be afraid. For I bring you tidings and keys and joy which will be for all
people, even stupid American tourists!” And he moved swiftly, inserted one of his many keys, extracted
Nancy’s bank card and disappeared back into the dark void of the post office. And just like that, the wheels of the
great yawing economy of Zamami Island started humming again.
The Franklins are
sad to report the untimely passing of Bella, their Old English Sheepdog, in August, a result of a chronic liver ailment. After
several diagnostic tests, surgery and a feeding tube, she appeared to be on the mend. And then, just like that, she had a
stroke and was gone. The Franklins are, of course, devastated but want to thank everyone who sent condolences. Joe has happily
connected with a family who has a 7-month old Old English “grandpuppy” that he dog sits and runs periodically
so don’t be confused when you see them both on the strand.
And so, as the
Franklins gleefully anticipate kicking 2014 to the curb, they give thanks for family and friends who provide comfort and understanding
in times of great need, good health, good neighbors and the time to enjoy it all. May you have health and blessings in 2015!
Joe, Nancy, Jimmy, Taylor
and “Otis,” the cat.
Past years newsletters
can be found at www.mirthquakes.com