Trial Balloon

Trial Balloon: May 18, 2010 Archive

A Bertie Wooster Aunt Fest

Posted at 6:00 AM on May 18, 2010 by Dale Connelly (36 Comments)
Filed under: Guest Bloggers

Today's entry is a dispatch from Trial Balloon's Mankato office.
Thanks for the assist, Clyde!

A few days ago several bloggers indicated they wanted to tell stories about their aunts. We agreed to call it "A Bertie Wooster Aunt Fest."
Let me explain that title.

In his delightful stories of the valet Jeeves and his dingbat employer Bertie Wooster, P. G. Wodehouse uses a variety of Bertie's aunts, particularly Aunt Agatha, to drive the plot. Agatha, like all of poor Bertie's aunts, is a strong-willed woman married to a weak and ineffectual man who barely emerges from the 1920s-era British wallpaper. So Agatha and the other aunts use Bertie for their various schemes, such as stealing a sterling silver cow creamer which is really Agatha's in the first place. Jeeves then always saves Bertie and the aunt, well, almost always. By the way, there is a delightful series "Jeeves and Wooster" from the BBC starring the multi-talented duo Stephen Fry as Jeeves and the Hugh Laurie (Dr. House) as Bertie.

To get our stories started, I will tell one of many stories I could tell about my aunts. My father had two half-sisters, Mabel and Nellie, two petite old maids with their levels a full bubble off. Their only acknowledged living relatives are my brother, my sister and I.

Nellie, who once had her skull split open in a ringside fight at a wrestling match, died 15 years ago, but Mabel, a WAC for 32 years, is still spry at age 90 in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Somehow they picked me as their heir, a purely honorary tile, and executor, which will require some expense and time when Mabel does die. Mabel and Nellie spent years amassing things, which over the years they sent to me. Oh, the tons of junk they have paid UPS to ship to me so I can put it in the garbage. "Tons" is not hyperbole.
Where did they keep it all? Little has ever been useful, and most has been entertainingly awful.

Camel Bench.jpg

We have received cheap tourist kitsch from their many world travels, already-disintegrating religious items "offered" by TV preachers, gaudy jewelry purchased from Home Shopping Network and at parties, impossible-to-open Tupperware-like containers, right-wing and fundamentalist publications, their old pastel-colored polyester clothing, and other things.

The photo shows of one of our favorites. We kept this for a couple of months, before it got to be too much to bear, because our then two-year-old granddaughter liked to sit on it. It is a delightfully ticky-tacky blend of plywood, naugahyde, yarn, and pseudo-native craft.

So, friends, the door is open. Tell us your aunt stories, be they funny, touching, uplifting, ironic, or human.

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