I think it got started because Alison had make a reference to bad language and Jeff claimed all her bad language knowledge comes from me. But it might have been her reference to Mr. Klee and his wife.
Mr. Klee is her Religion teacher. He married a high school Religion teacher. Alison and her school chums are convinced there's not a couple more devout than the Klees and that if the Klees ever have a child, it will be the savior incarnate.
They're probably right. But back to dinner.
We'd gotten on the subject of being drunk, somehow. Jeff had broken out a bottle of wine I'd gotten him at Christmas. It's a 2010 Napa Vally Red called, "The Prisoner" and it is fabulous. I'm a lightweight, admittedly, but I was woozy before my second or third sip. And of course we finished the bottle. So if my story tonight seems to yaw and pitch, well, let's just blame Jeff. He did, after all, open the bottle.
So Alison was explaining to us that Matthew, Mark, Luke and John weren't all apostles, and I was complaining that some man had dictated who got to be featured in the Bible and that while some of the apostles were stiffed, there was no female author anywhere within the Scripture. And, you know, that was wrong.
Somehow that led me to tell Alison about my grandfather, Laymon Bickel, who married an outstanding woman of faith -- my grandmother, Thelma. There was never a more devout woman born and he slowly came into the fold. Together they helped buiild my family church -- a Pentecostal one -- and he eventually was allowed to teach the adult Sunday School class even though he struggled with vices like cursing, smoking and occasionally drinking alcohol. He was an amazing guy. I both worshiped and feared him. My grandmother, on the other hand, I 150 percent worshiped.
She didn't reach 5-feet but she stood taller than any woman I've ever met. My dad had her faith, her patience, her balance, her grace, her beauty. Everyone came first for her. She was Job and Martha all in one package but was the best grandma ever sent to Earth. (Martha was the sister of Lazarus and Mary -- the sister who got all the work done while Martha attended to Jesus, fyi)
Anyway, one night, somewhat early in their 50+ years of marriage, My Grandpa stumbled home drunk. Drinking alcohol was a huge sin, and he'd fallen more than once. My Grandma took stock of the situation and (gasp!) made him sleep it off in the yard.
Alison thought this was hysterical.
My grandmother, at the time, struggled with her Pentecostal prohibiliton on anything fun and her need to be a good wife. Ultimately, God won in the struggle and Grandpa woke up sober in the dew. He may or may not have given up booze. Legend has it, he always had a bottle in the basement but it was a "Don't ask, don't tell" kind of policy.
Grandma claimed later that she felt guilty about leaving the head of her household out there in the cold, but you know, God. He's like a higher power, and in the Pentecostal faith, you'd better damn well do what He says. Or there's a lot of fire and brimstone in your future. So Grandma was really doing Grandpa a good turn.
So I tell Alison that she's lucky she's learning from the catholics. When I was small, it was Pentecostal all the way. No swimming or dancing with boys in the same space; girls couldn't cut their hair; they had to wear dresses and there was no cursing, no smoking, no movies, no TV.
I tossed that TV line in there only because we once -- I swear this is true -- had a minister who said television, the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus, etc.. were all just Satan stand-ins and you couldn't have them in your life because it was getting in the way of your focus on God. He might have also been the one who threw hymnals at my brother David and me when we weren't paying close enough attention. He was in the pulpit; we were near the back row. It was a small church but he had good aim.
My brothers fed his children canned dog food and told them it was braunschweiger. That might have fueled his aim that day...
Anyway, I as I told Alison: "I was lucky. I was the youngest, so by the time I came along, my parents had relaxed about most of the hard stuff. Aunt Donna, though, she got it all. She wore dresses all the time except once in high school when she broke her leg."
Ali, totally caught up in the story, said, "That explains the big TV."
Donna has a big-ass TV in her front room.
But then, Alison turned the tables on me and set about trying to figure out how to get her father hammered so we could leave him in the front yard to sleep it off.
He was not amused.
"Between the two of us," he argued, "which parent is more likely to get hammered?"
God love her, she's totally thinking it's him. I told her that he was on to her, though, and we'd have to find a way to both get him hammered AND lure him into the front yard.
So the next thing I know, she's hauling up a block of fireworks from the basement.
"Hey Da-ad," she calls....
I love that girl.