I have an aunt named Susie Le Q.
She sometimes thinks that I am her aunt.
But I am not.
It's true that Susie Le Q is only four years older than me and that my Sven is all of four years older than she.
But don't go running for your banjos just yet.
You see, my Grandpa was in the war, and on a particularly scary day, the kind of scary, due to bullets flying over his head, he made a promise to God that if he ever made it out of there alive, he would have more children.
I know. I thought the same thing.
Why would God be so hell bent on my grandpa procreating?
Don't most people promise not to cheat and shit like that when they are in those situations?
My grandpa basically said that he would have sex, if only God would let him live.
Well, he wasn't stupid.
Anyway. on his return to the states, he kissed my mother on her forehead, who was eleven at the time, and then he picked up my grandma and he took her to the bedroom.
Hands over ears.
Nine months later my mother had a new little baby brother, Leroy. And two years after that blessed event, my mother held another little baby sister in her arms, Victoria. And then in four more years, my mother, who was busy picking out her wedding invitations, received one last little baby sister. And that is the one they called Susie Le Q.
Due to the wide range in age between those brothers and sisters, when our family gets together, I often mistake my cousins for my nieces and nephews. My cousins often mistake us brothers and sisters as their aunts and uncles. My aunts and uncles often mistake us brothers and sisters as their cousins.
And in the case of Susie Le Q? She sometimes mistakes we sisters as her aunts.
We are not.
We are a mixed bag of nuts.
But it's not our fault.
It was God's will.
Now one thing about Susie Le Q is that she is a tiny person with super long arms. It's true. So it's hard to buy a shirt for her. If you get a small, the shirt fits but the sleeves stop at her elbows. If you get her a medium, the shirt is kind of loose and the sleeves are are three quarter length. If you get her a large, the sleeves finally fit, but you can't tell if there is a body inside the shirt.
She was not born this way.
This arm thing happened the day that Sven and I took Susie Le Q and her husband, Muzzle Toff, for a boat ride.
We got out there on the lake and it died.
And it wouldn't start up again, no matter how many chances we gave it.
So, there we were, drifting away on a Sunday with nothing but ourselves. We were headed to a buffet when the motor quit. I sure could have used one of those Bloody Mary's with a beef stick and olives and mushrooms and pickles and a slab of cheese. It happened to be the morning after a big wedding and a wild reception and floating around on top of those wavy, waves, that wouldn't quit waving, on an empty stomach was not a good idea for someone like, Millie Noe. And that is why I didn't hang on to the rope that our rescuers threw to us. I cannot speak for the men in the boat. But for some reason, teeny-tiny, Susie Le Q, held on to the rope all the way back to the cottage as we were towed by our neighbors, who'd just happened upon us.
[one_half_last]When Susie Le Q stepped off the boat and walked up the pier to the cottage, her knuckles were scraping the wood all the way.
And she has been like that ever since.[/one_half_last]
The cottage is a point of interest for anybody who likes to have fun and not in a fancy kind of a way.
Susie le Q and Muzzle Toff fit this very bill.
So, it was only a matter of time before the four of us would end up there together around a campfire and then wander in to the slanted porch to spend the night.
Besides having long arms, Susie Le Q, has been covered in goose bumps her entire life. That's right. She's the kind of a person who's always bundled up in a turtle neck sweater and under a blanket, when everyone around her, is not.
We all took turns in the bathroom washing up and putting P.J.s on.
I'd just finished brushing my teeth when I came out to witness Susie Le Q going around the slanted porch and closing all of the double hung windows. In the meantime, Sven was going around the same slanted porch and opening up all of the windows.
Neither one knew what the other one was doing, which is pretty incredible as the porch is not very big.
"What the hell? Why is this window open?" she says when she gets back to the starting point, which was the window next to her bed.
Sven, who'd just gotten the last window opened up next to our bed, turned around to see what all the fuss was about.
Then they spotted each other all the way across the porch.
They narrowed their eyes.
Sven says, "Oh no. The windows are staying open."
Susie Le Q says, "No way. I'll freeze to death."
For your information, it was going to be a low of about seventy two degrees that night.
Then she began slamming the windows shut, which was not so easy to do, because those windows are old and uncooperative, except for those two that just drop down and slam shut if you look at them.
Sven followed right behind her and he opened every window right back up.
Clearly, they were going to have to come to a compromise.
Well, exactly one half of the windows remained opened that night and exactly one half of those windows remained closed that night and exactly neither one of those two were very happy about it, that night.
And Muzzle Toff and I?
We slept like babies.
Now, I'm not sure if that night was the eve of the famous sunburn or if that was a different weekend all together, because those days are kind of a blur, but here is another interesting bit of information about Susie Le Q.
She is very
How can I put it?
When they have those boxes to put an X in on those forms that you have to fill out, there isn't an appropriate box for Susie Le Q to check. There should be one that says, incredibly white.
Really, I'm surprised she was never rounded up to be in a commercial for a laundry detergent. You know what I mean. She could have stood next to a basket of white sheets and made them look dull and then she could have stood next to another basket of sheets that were as bright a white as Susie. Oh, but wait. Maybe they couldn't have gotten the sheets white enough.
Exactly how white is Susie Le Q?
Susie Le Q is so white that you have to put your sunglasses on to talk to her.
She's a total eclipse.
[one_half_last]But not the day of the sunburn. That day she was as red, as a red could be. They wouldn't have had a box for her to check again.[/one_half_last]
It was Sunday evening and we were at the table in the restaurant, three doors down from the cottage having a quick burger when she started to change colors. Then her teeth began to look neon, as if someone was shining a black light on them.
She was shivering too. But, I don't think it was her normal just being cold because I am, kind of a shiver. I think she was shaking like that due to the onset of the sun poisoning she was about to encounter.
How did this happen?
Well, I let her use my sun screen.
And my sunscreen was Johnson's Baby Oil.
And then we sat out on the pier swinging our feet, all afternoon.
Don't judge me.
I bought name brand when it came to the health and well being of my skin. No way was I going to settle for some cheap generic shit..
And yes, I always did have a very nice tan.
And yes, I do have lines on my face to prove it today.
Well, Sven and I waved good-by to Muzzle Toff, who was in the driver's seat after that dinner.
Susie Le Q was stuffed in the back of the van, underneath a pool table that they were hauling home.
I got a phone call from my mother a few days later. "What the hell were you thinking, Millie?" she says.
Suddenly it was all my fault.
"Your aunt hasn't been to work all week."
At the time Susie Le Q was employed at the grocery store and the grocery store had a sign hanging in the window that said, NO SHOES, NO SHIRT, NO SERVICE.
Well, they meant business. It applied to it's employees as well as it's patrons.
And Susie Le Q was not able to put on shoes or clothing, so she was shit out of luck.
You may be wondering at this point, "What in God's name does any of any of this have to do with a purse on fire?"
Well, I am just about to tell you.
But here is the purse story.
The four of us were out on the town.
Now, everybody knows that when you go out on the town, the last stop is always The Pit. It's a classy, basement, bar next to the funeral home. Well, there we were, sitting on our stools with our last drinks of the night. Creedence Clearwater was blaring on the juke box, "Oh lord, stuck in Lodi again." And even though the doors at the tops of the stairs on both ends of the bar were wide open to the street and to the back parking lot, it was still very smoky in there. But it was always very smoky at the Pit. Everyone who went to the Pit smoked cigarettes. Even people who did not smoke cigarettes, smoked cigarettes if they went to the Pit.
Susie Le Q said, "Something is on fire."
"Oh Susie," I said. "It always stinks in here."
"No. Can't you smell that? Something is on fire."
Then she starts checking out all the ashtrays up and down the bar to see if there was a butt smoldering in one.
Next she goes into the bathroom to see if the toilet paper was in flames.
Sven and Muzzle Toff just looked at her with glassy stares.
Clearly it was time to go home.
I picked up my purse and swung it over my shoulder and so did she.
"Come on you guys, it's time to go," we say.
We walked up the stairs to the street and we got into our cars in the dark of the night.
Sven pulled away from the curb and drove around the block, with Susie Le Q and Muzzle Toff tailing us.
"And then," I was blabbing on to Sven who was behind the wheel, "she said that she really likes my new hair cut. Do you? Do you think it's too short?"
I glance at the purse that is sitting between us and notice that smoke is pouring out of it.
Sven slams on the breaks.
Susie Le Q and Muzzle Toff slam into us.
And then we both beat the crap out of that poor charred purse.
And we put out the fire.
Moral of the Story
Never lay your purse next to an ashtray.
I think that day in the trenches with the bullets flying overhead, God told my Grandpa that he should have more children, because quite frankly, I don't think I could survive without the mixed bag of nuts that I call my family, Susie Le Q included.