Biff America: The joke’s on me
I was sent a photo of three brilliant, beautiful and funny women. The beautiful and brilliant parts were a matter of genetics; the humor was a gift. The photo was of my sisters.
Depending who you ask, my entire family is funny. It is safe to say it was a humor born of dysfunction. There were six kids, two parents and an occasional sick uncle, wayward cousin or elderly grandmother growing up in a three-bedroom home with two toilets. It was a home replete with love, humor and mental illness. Being the youngest, I was on the receiving end of much of the love and humor. The love was a comfort, but some of the humor, not so much.
When I was 5 or 6, I still had the head of a small child with the prominent front teeth of an adult. My sister Martha christened me “Bucky.” I hated the name. When our family’s dentist retired, we moved our eight mouths to a new dentist in town who was happy to have our business. My sister was the first to visit him and told him that we left our old dentist because I didn’t like him and that if he wanted to make me feel comfortable, he should call me by my nickname.
When I arrived for my first visit, the dentist and hygienist greeted me with a “Hiya, Bucky!”
The fun continued. At about age 10, when I seized the rare opportunity of an empty bathroom to take a bath. I was in there only a few minutes when my brother Mark came into the bathroom and told me that our grandmother needed to use the toilet right away and that I should close the bath curtain to give her privacy. Next thing I heard was a walker sliding across the floor and a creak of the toilet seat. I tried not to listen, but I then heard about three minutes of moans and grunts, a loud thud and the walker crashing over as if someone had fallen.
I asked through the curtain if everything was all right. Hearing nothing, I jumped out of the tub naked, expecting to see my grandmum dead on the floor only to find my siblings laughing.
The teasing of me continues to this day.
A few summers ago, we were all attending a niece’s wedding in Boston. I volunteered to be the designated driver chauffeuring sisters back to the hotel after the reception.
Not being used to the area, I got terribly lost. I had rented a Lincoln Town Car, and my sisters insisted on sitting in the back seat giving them a comfortable place to badger me while I struggled with Boston traffic.
Being lost and unsure of my surroundings, I drove the speed limit, which seemed to be about 15 mph slower than everyone who was passing me with horns blaring.
“Hey, Bucky, could you speed it up?” they said. “You just got passed by a guy pushing a shopping cart.”
With my tipsy sisters shrieking in the back, and countless cars passing and honking, I got distracted as I looked for the hotel.
That was when I took a corner too wide and cut off a Massachusetts state trooper on a motorcycle.
“Hey, Bucky, you just ran a cop off the road,” Martha said. “He is turning around, and he put on his lights. I think you can outrun him. Floor it!”
When I finally found a wide spot in the road, I pulled off and put on my flashers.
It was then that Martha opened her door and ran back to the cop screaming, “Arrest him! He is a menace and has teeth like a beaver.”
The cop told Martha to get back in the car.
When he approached my vehicle, before he could say anything, Martha asked, “Are you stopping him because he was driving too slow, or were you the guy wearing the fancy pants he ran off the road?” (Massachusetts troopers wear jodhpur pants tucked into high boots.)
Both the cop and I tried to ignore my sister while I provided the required paperwork. This was easier said than done. Martha again interrupted by saying, “Officer, may I suggest a strip search? He might enjoy it.”
The cop asked me to step out of the car. I did so with my sisters laughing in the background.
I walked to his motorcycle with him, and he said, “I’m going to let you go with a warning.” Then he added, “It felt good to laugh.”
Who was I to argue?
Jeffrey Bergeron’s column “Biff America” publishes Mondays in the Summit Daily News. Bergeron has worked in TV and radio for more than 30 years, and his column can be read in several newspapers and magazines. He is the author of “Mind, Body, Soul.” Bergeron arrived in Breckenridge when there was plenty of parking and no stop lights. Contact him at email@example.com.
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