Everyone Loved Dorcas

Today’s tale has all the elements of a great story – romance, family, a villain, a military hero, death, horror, and home-made cranberry sauce. Before you read this, know that when I say it is a great story I do not mean it is good literature. It is a great story in that it is a great one to tell after a few beers.

Cranberries popping

Cranberries popping. Did you know cranberries pop? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was about twenty years old when this happened. Twenty-year-old me was a lot like middle-aged me, except more mild-mannered. People who know me well would tell you that I am not exactly the life of the party now. So to calculate who I was then, deduct thirty-something years of experience and confidence from a low-key middle-aged guy.

Our Tale Begins

College was going well. I also juggled three jobs and was dating a girl I’d known since high school. She and I were into each other like twenty year olds are. We thought it was going somewhere, because that’s what people who are that age think.

I got along with her family too. Her mom and her dad liked me and invited me to family events. Being invited to family events was part of my undoing in this tale.

As I mentioned in a previous post, that Thanksgiving dinner was my introduction to the girlfriend’s version of home-made cranberry sauce. The recipe was passed on from her maternal grandmother. Speaking of passed on, the grandmother had, several years before I came upon the scene.

The guest of honor on this holiday was the widowed grandfather. He was an imposing man, a retired high-ranking military officer who had received honors for his service. The man was someone. He carried himself with a bearing that didn’t demand respect, it communicated that his life entitled him to it.

I’d never met the great man. His granddaughter was not going to have me botch my debut. She educated me on his background and deeds. She spoke reverently of his late wife and their relationship.

She told of the wonders of the family cranberry sauce recipe that was the centerpiece of the celebration. In this family, the berry ranked above the turkey. Her biggest fear was that I would expose myself as a fool in her grandfather’s eyes by making some remark about cranberry sauce coming from a can.

If only I’d made a cranberry joke instead of the one I did.

Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner? Me.

The big day arrived. The girlfriend gave me a quiz on grandfather trivia before we went inside. She ushered me into the man’s presence. At nearly seventy years old, he was still the equal of me and my three fittest friends. I looked way up at him, gave him a firm handshake and the talk began. Upon being dismissed, I went to the kitchen and was greeted as a hero. All indications were that I’d been judged as suitable to continue the relationship.

Dinner was served. I ate the cranberry sauce. My loyalty to the canned stuff did not change, but I didn’t declare that aloud.

There was a lot of talk of someone named Dorcas. Everyone referred to Dorcas by her first name. I didn’t know who she was. There was a lot of laughter and reminiscing about her. Discretion would indicate that my best choice would be to not speak during Dorcas talk time since I had no fun stories about her.

Inexplicably, I chose to start talking.

Abe, with love on his mind. (public domain image via wikimedia)

The Gettysburg Address took two minutes to deliver. If that is true, I spoke longer than President Lincoln. Lincoln used notes for his speech. Mine was completely off the top of my head – a two-minute extemporaneous speech about the name Dorcas.  Amongst my subtopics were how the name sounded like someone was being called a dork and questioning the wisdom of naming a child that.

My message, though well-crafted, was not as well received as Mr. Lincoln’s remarks. Things got quiet. Quiet enough for me to hear a whispered “Dorcas was my grandmother’s name”.  That is when I felt the side of my face melting from the glare I was getting from the head of the table.

I can tell you the turkey was good. The cranberry sauce was pretty good too. I was long gone by the time dessert hit the table. Young me didn’t know when to keep his mouth shut. He did understand when it was time to go.

It Was A Choice. Not A Good Choice, Just A Choice.

I still don’t know what made me think talking about this Dorcas person was a good idea. I think before I speak; I thought before I spoke that night. Despite all the reasons I knew I should have nothing to say on the topic, I chose to make a joke. The choice was my responsibility.

Despite my incredible display on that Thanksgiving, that young woman and I dated through most of my college years. My standing invitation to her house became a warning to keep my distance when her grandfather was in town. That was understandable. There was a little more animosity toward me from the family members who were not dating me. I understood that as well.

There was one who lived in that house that surprised me. I’d always gotten along with the cat. But shortly after the incident, I was tying my shoe in their front yard. The cat crossed the yard and peed on my hands.

Everyone loved Dorcas.

She must’ve been as good as cranberry sauce.


38 Comments on “Everyone Loved Dorcas”

  1. Laura says:

    I knew what was going to happen the moment I read the title of this post. Want to know how I could tell? It’s because, many years ago, my brother dated a woman named Dorcas.

  2. T E Stazyk says:

    The question still stands, “Who would name a child ‘Dorcas’?”

  3. lbwoodgate says:

    Love the way you assimilated Honest Abe into this post. Saw Speilberg’s movie on the man Monday and highly recommend for everyone.

  4. Hear Doras, think Bible, glue mouth shut. A simple three-step process that I wouldn’t have been able to follow, either. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Snoring Dog Studio says:

    OUCH!! In your defense, you weren’t properly prepped for that dinner and for meeting the grandfather. Your girlfriend sabotaged you. She left out the one detail that would have saved you. The cat, however – cats being what they are- it would have peed on you no matter what you said. Did you eat the pumpkin pie, though?

    • omawarisan says:

      Oh no. No pie for me. There was a very strong “I hope you choke to death on peas” vibe in the room that took away from my dining experience. I thought it best that I leave before they made it happen.

  6. mikegee64 says:

    Ahhh the aftermath of that story…

    Of course, every brother revels in the embarrassment of another brother, but when it is the older “wiser” brother who is embarassed, the younger brother absolutely basks in it.

    Oma came home that night with the body language and posture of a boiled, peeled and deveined shrimp. Luckily, our whole family was there to greet him and ask him what was wrong, and unfortunately for him, he told us…

    There are three stages to our Dad’s laughter. It is a well- documented fact. The first stage is a hearty re-assuring laugh usually followed by some kind of comment to add to the humor of the situation. The second stage is more of a robust, sustained laugh where you know he was caught off guard and truly finds something funny…

    The third stage normally would organically grow out of stage two. It is more of a hee hee than a ha ha. It is a high-pitched insistent laugh, uncontrollable and long lasting. It usually requires Dad to sit down, or if he is already sitting, to bend further over so his face nearly touches the table. The stage three laugh usually brings tears to his eyes and can sometimes enter a silent phase where the only sound is the clicking of his throat as he breathes through the muscle contractions of laughter.

    If a stage three laugh was caused by something you yourself did, if you were on the receiving end of it, you truly felt that it would never end, this was your life now, being laughed at for this.

    The Dorcas incident caused Dad to go from zero to stage three in less than two seconds, like the finest European sportscar on a perfectly designed test track. I of course, joined in because the incident was, as my cousin Eugene would say, “a fuckin’ pisser!”. Our mother joined in at about 50%, sensing Oma’s absolute mortification.

    Oma went to bed that night with our continuing laughter still sounding down the stairs after him. We were laughing AT him, not WITH him. He would eventually join us, but not that night. It wasn’t until the next morning, upon waking up and entering the kitchen. Dad took one look at him and again went immediately into a stage 3, as if he had placed a bookmark there. Oma finally cracked a smile about the whole thing.

    But something I find kind of funny is that he only partially learned a lesson from the Dorcas incident…

    About 21 years ago, he went on another rant about a stupid name, when he learned what my then fiancé, now wife, called HER grandmother… It was something he hadn’t heard before, it was different, but this time, he was wise enough to keep his rant to the immediate family and not share it with my fiancé.

    Ironically, Teresa, my then fiancé, now wife calls her grandmother “Oma”

    • omawarisan says:

      What kind of person allows themselves to be called Oma?

      I never thought about the three laughs, but that is spot on. It is kind of fun to see the top level. That guy deserves those.

      This may be the only direct to stage 3 laughter incident of our youth. Even the time when he and I made fun of that guy in the highway rest stop restaurant bathroom thinking he was you didn’t go right to three.

  7. AiXeLsyD13 says:

    LOVE this story. I’m sure a lot of people can relate. Ha ha. Out of all the names in the bible, they had to go with Dorcas? I have another one for the list of what to not name our baby…

  8. Wendy says:

    Oma, I congratulate you on your courage in sharing your humiliation. Mikegee64, I have a sister like you.
    Happy Thanksgiving, all! I am going to listen to my cranberries now.

  9. robincoyle says:

    Oma, Oma, Oma . . . Geez. How did your foot taste?

  10. Debbie says:

    Oh, my. Part of me feels your pain. It’s easy, after all, to pity the young person who inadvertently puts his shoe in his mouth. The other part of me recoils at the idea of cat pee anywhere near — that stuff reeks!

    • omawarisan says:

      And the reaction was “no, he wouldn’t do that. He’d never pee on anyone.” Why would I make that up? Why was I asking her to amputate my hands if it didn’t happen?

  11. Only thing funnier than this post? mikegee64’s comment! Oh, Oma, we do love your blurts!

  12. Michelle Gillies says:

    Well, who does name a kid Dorcas? And who sits around talking about a dead grandmother referring to her by her name.Shouldn’t there have been a, “Grandma, my Grandmother or” my wife” or “my Mom” preface in front of that name. There is no way in hell that the name had never been discussed by some member of the family with some kind of humour involved.
    You and your brother should blog together. You are a great tag team.

    • omawarisan says:

      I’m glad you brought this up because I had this point in the post and removed it.

      It isn’t normal for people to be on a first name basis with their grandmother. I wouldn’t dare talk about my grandmothers using only their names, even now. I don’t think that absolves me of guilt, but it is a mitigating factor for sure.

  13. Snoring Dog Studio says:

    mikegee added the icing to this cake! Hilarious back story!! Love the acknowledgment of “they were laughing at you” not with you!

    • omawarisan says:

      Oh yeah. There was no chance I was getting any support that night. If Dorcas’ family was outside with pitchforks and torches, I was on my own. They couldn’t get their breath to add any advice or start the fire under the boiling oil.

  14. Howling at mikegee64 comment and of-course the idea of a cat peeing on your hands….
    Out, damned spot! out, I say!—One: two: why,
    then, ’tis time to do’t.—Hell is murky!—Fie, my
    lord, fie! a soldier, and afeard? What need we
    fear who knows it, when none can call our power
    to account?—Yet who would have thought the old
    cat to have had so much urin in him? (Lady McBeth)

  15. Pie says:

    Poor, poor you. It must’ve hurt as someone who thinks before they speak to know you still managed to screw up, but to be honest, who would call their child Dorca? You’re asking for the poor scamp to get a verbal kicking if you do.

    Just when I thought I couldn’t enjoy the story more, Oma, your brother rounded it up nicely with that description of what happened when you got home. It takes a special talent to get your dad to move from zero to stage three in seconds.

    What, with the cranberry sauce incident and the other one that nearly killed her, your girlfriend’s relationship with you and fruit was getting dangerous. It was best for her to quit while she was ahead.

    • omawarisan says:

      That was my point, P! Her grandfather was having none of it.

      You know, fruit was the source of so many problems in that relationship. I just didn’t see it back then.

  16. Betty says:

    You’re a dorcas.

  17. Even the cat turned on you? Wow….

  18. 1jaded1 says:

    Lol, my approach used to be smile and nod…yes, pets can tell. Wow.

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