Thinking About Olde Times

Papa Buckets sat in his chair as he always did. Looking down his body would be at an angle nestled between the armrests making a Z. Usually a bowl of popcorn could be nestled in the leather land between his belly and the edge of the chair. His left arm lived on the rest, either dolling popcorn or nesting his head. Every statement I remember him speaking was from this position. When the floating ottoman rose nothing came out except a snore.

Tonight his head rested in the crook between his thumb and pointer. A serious moment.

Mama Buckets had an afghan over her legs. The microwavable bean pillow nestled under the curve of her back dulling the pain of twenty-plus years in the factory. Her lower lip protruded and her hands were folded neatly into her lap. On the table next to her sat a stack of books with titles such as The Growing Family, Togetherness, and Promise of a Future. Her toes popped in movement and a groan leaked as she adjusted her pillow.

“We thought it was time for a family meeting.” The tone in PB’s voice demanded attention. His lifestyle warranted otherwise.

“About what?” Sister Buckets was missing out on homework. She was studious, open-minded, and bound for parental-pleasing success. I glanced at her silently thanking her for asking the thought in my head.

“We feel as if we’re growing distant.” PB made eye contact. PB sounded stern.

“Why do you say ‘we’ when it is you that’s talking?” Mister Buckets was fifteen years old. His hair was pink, his clothes loose, tattered. As you should’ve guessed by now, he questioned things.

“Because we, Mama Buckets and I, started this family. Now we’re gonna talk about it.”

The heart dropped inside of Mister Buckets. He knew that Sister Buckets felt it as she looked over with a smile. “Let’s go,” spilled out of Mister’s mouth.

“Well,” Mama Buckets started, “I want to begin with a question phrased as a parable. You know that’s how Jesus spoke and told stories…”

A sigh from Mister Buckets.

With a glare Mama asked, “Picture this family as a piece of cookware. What would it be?”

Sister buckets said, “That’s a metaphor not a parable.”

Mister Buckets said, “A bottomless pot. Inescapable.”

The phone rang and it was Sister’s friend. She Just Had to Take it.

Mama asked Buckets, “Would you like to talk about anything? Do you have any questions?”

“Yeah,” he said as he readjusted himself on the couch, “I have a question. Did you guys plan this in advance?”

“We’ve discussed doing this for a few months.” MB looked concerned as she spoke.

“Did you use one of these books?” Mister Buckets motioned to the stack.

“Well, yes. These books have a lot of wholesome knowledge.” PB tried to be as calm as MB but his patience was waning.

“Knowledge isn’t wholesome. Even the term itself is against nature…against everything we ARE. Nature asks no questions yet leaves only answers. Is that in there?”

“What do you mean and why are you angry?” MB looks sorrowful while she honestly inquired.

“I mean that…oh, never mind. I’m angry because you guys read all of this and you think it’s knowledge but it’s drivel. Do you think our family is as disposable as cookware?”

“Of course not.” MB looked really concerned now.

“It’s a parable,” PB added.

“It’s not a parable! It is a metaphor just like Sister said! I”m thirty years your junior and I know that! Final question…can I go now?”

MB looked to PB for an answer.

PB sighed and said, “Yes. You can go.”

He looked down into the void where popcorn rests and asked himself one thousand questions dating back to before any of the people in the room were in his life.


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