In It for the Laughs

(Big family dinners: they’re complicated!)

What keep me going are laughs like the ones I get from my friend Ann Aikens, who described what she called ‘the  wine-fueled row over nuclear power” she got into with her family at Thanksgiving last year.  “My aunt nearly dumped a casserole of boiling German Beans on me, she writes.  “Coincidence?  Hard to say.’  Or the  rundown she gave of the Christmas when her pals brought a pig too big for the oven. “If you too do this, make sure you have a clean hacksaw blade handy because the alternatives are really hard to explain to the neighbors.”

It was years before Ann and I met face to face though we both wrote for the The Vermont Standard in Woodstock VT,  one of  the last of the old-time papers, section after section, page after page  of opinion and local news, columns on country living and who’s up to what. Sometimes I think I’m in Heaven itself when I go see them there in Woodstock and the satellite towns.

I also write for the nearby Herald of Randolph where a jewel box of a music hall acts as focal point  for musicians and singers as fine as any you’d find at Lincoln Center or the Met.

She calls herself  Upper Valley Girl in her column and for a spell she actually moved to LA to LA and became a real valley girl. That year she sent a Christmas card showing herself  in Lolita-style glasses and leopard skin swimwear sitting out by a pool.

Because she feels almost like a baby sister to me, I was happy when she came back east.

The last time I saw her was in July of 2010 at the memorial service for Kevin Forrest, longtime editor of the Standard,  musician and father, beer lover and all-around great guy who liked nothing more than to stay up late with his million friend laughin’ and pickin’ until dawn. 

BUT ! She did write a column for the Herald of Randolph just last Thursday. It starts like this:

One of the great things about going to Disney World is that you think for weeks, “I’m goin’ to Disney World!” You could be in gridlock traffic with a full bladder. Getting fired. Your leg could be falling off. But things really aren’t so bad; you’re goin’ to Disney World.

I don’t know yet what the rest of it says since that’s as much as the piece the paper will let you see at first, unless you’re a subscriber. But the rest of it should be up tomorrow and I can get my fix of her frank funny talk then. Or who knows, maybe she’ll see this post and send me an even fresher laugh, hot off the griddle.

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