Get in the Front


And now, the line that made my mother famous.
"Get in the front."
You might be thinking.
"Get in the front of what?"
Or you might be thinking.
"Who gives a shit?"
It was none of those.
And my mother didn't just say, "Get in the front."
That would not have made her famous.

Of course, she is known for many phrases.
There is always, "What in the Sam hill is going on in there?"
That one goes back a long way.
But they were not her own words.
They were borrowed.
For years I wondered who that Sam Hill guy was.
I was pretty old before I figured out that in today's lingo, Sam Hill would be replaced with just four letters.
And then there were the Saturday morning interruptions, right in the middle of Atom Aunt, you'd hear her footsteps coming, and then.
"This room looks like a cyclone hit it!"
Boy, that brings back the memories.
But I, as well as my siblings were too young to appreciate her creative style and finesse.
Because we were all too busy dragging ourselves off the couch, muttering under our breath and picking up our shit before she could show off any more of her God given talents.
I have a personal favorite.
It was almost daily.
Or shall I say, almost morningly.
It was our pre-school drill.
"You kids have two speeds! Slow and stop! Now get moving!"
And then a few minutes later, as the six of us lined up to go out the door, she would hand us our sack lunches one at a time and kiss the tops of our heads good-bye.
But that as great as it was, is still not her claim to fame.
Naturally her term, "The G.D. ferry," is way up there on the Richter scale. But that is a whole other story.
And not suitable for children.
Now where was I going with this story?
Oh, yeah.
"Get in the front."
When my mother said, "Get in the front," the particular day that she became famous for it, it was more of a scream.
Like this.
And she didn't holler, get in the front, at the top of her lungs just the one time.
Oh hell no.
She screamed it about five or six times.
Maybe it was ten.
And then she added, "KERM!!!!".
And there was nothing any of us, now adult children with our own kids, could do about it.
Other than put our hands over our ears and wait for my dad's little red boat to plane out.
Now he, the person her screams were intended for, could not hear her.
Nor could his passengers.
You see, they'd just sped away from the crowded pier we were sitting on, on that sunny Saturday afternoon, in his brand-new boat, that was quite old.
It was absolutely adorable.
Especially when my parents had pulled up to the cottage in it a little earlier.
Legally the watercraft could accommodate four people.
So, when my dad and his crew pulled away for a three-hour tour, they were at full capacity and full throttle.
And that is why the nose of the little red boat was straight in the air for those few seconds.
And that is why my mother was screaming and screaming and screaming.
And screaming.
And then the boat began to plane out.
And then the boat did plane out.
And then all the hollering stopped.
And just like that life went on.
Life went on with just one difference.
There is not a person alive who was on that pier that day, who doesn't holler, "Get in the Frooooooooooooooooooooooonnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnntttttt!!" Whenever it is appropriate.
And usually when it is not.
Because that is just the way we are.
"I wonder what the po' people are doing today?" she said to me on another occasion.
I was sitting next to her in the back seat, behind my sweet Sven and my dad, and we were being tossed around like a salad from the waves the big boats were churning up around us.
I burst out laughing.
And then in the snootiest accent I could muster, I said, "Daaaahling, that is something we will never know."
You see, we always knew what it was like to be filthy rich.
And it had nothing to do with money.
Thank you, Mom.

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