Scores of you called, emailed or texted that you enjoyed my July 19 piece on funny Gardner stories.
“We’re tired of COVID and Confederate statues, Donald Trump and depressions,” said one reader. “We need a laugh.” The editor agreed.
The extended Gardner family stretches from Elizabeth City to Asheville.
We trekked to the Asheville area one July for my father-in-law’s funeral, then brought his cremains back to Elizabeth City for burial. Socks, the 19-year-old, parakeet-eating cat, died just days after we returned. Our younger son was dismayed to lose his pet, scoured the sun-baked yard with his mom for a burial site and dug a grave in the soft front berm.
Diana and I were still clad in work attire, she in a long dress and me in pinstripes, when I arrived home to the “Pet Sematery.” We all paid our respects as Socks’ tiny casket was lowered into the grave.
Passing neighbors asked if we were putting my father-in-law in the front yard. “No, it was the cat, not George,” I explained.
Spot, the basset hound, passed away that winter. Since the front yard was occupied by cats, birds and hermit crabs, dogs were relegated to the back yard. I found Spot a spot beneath the crepe myrtle at the south end of the yard.
Next spring I noticed Diana weeping over a mound of pine straw at the north end of the yard.
“I miss Spot,” she sobbed.
“Spot’s over there,” I pointed in a southerly direction. “This is a pile of charcoal briquets from last summer.”
Hilarity happens in and atop our refrigerator.
Socks’ predecessor, Friskie, went AWOL one day. She was nowhere to be found in or around the house, but the fridge was making strange noises. Diana opened the door to a wide-eyed Garfield already in full stride by the time her paws hit the kitchen floor. We lost $100 worth of groceries and spent two hours scouring the appliance.
When we asked our son why he had put the cat in the refrigerator, the best he could do with his limited vocabulary was to explain, “cool cat.”
The same son disappeared himself a few weeks later. A neighborhood search party reconnoitered a four-block area with no success. Diana had the FBI Kidnapping hotline on speed dial, right behind the SWAT team.
We found the “kidnapped” son atop the refrigerator, eating a peach. “Good,” he said as he hit me square in the forehead with the soggy pit.
I manage to embarrass myself in front of the children, too.
A daughter-in-law, visiting with our nursing grandchild, stored excess breast milk in my favorite Tupperware cup. The next morning, she searched in vain for the little one’s breakfast. Looking sheepishly at my soggy Cheerios, I guessed, “My grandson’s too young for cereal, huh?”
The four grandchildren are aged seven to 10. We grandparents still possess some awesomeness for a few more years. So, I was touched last Christmas when they presented me with a coffee cup stenciled, “Pop-pop knows everything.” But on the other side it said, “but if he doesn’t, he’s pretty good at making stuff up.”
Even going to church can be a hoot in our clan.
We serve as eucharistic ministers from time to time, presenting Communion wafers, the body of Christ, beside the parish priest. These days, most Catholics accept the Eucharist with extended hands, palms up. Traditionalists, who eschew handling the holy wafer, extend their tongues to receive the sacrament.
I’m an experienced hand at this. The second joint of my index finger brushes the tip of the parishioner’s tongue and my thumb launches the unleavened bread onto said worshipper’s tongue, where surface tension holds it in place. Usually.
One Sunday a buxom newcomer approached me at the altar, out came the tongue, but I missed. Down tumbled the body of Christ until it adhered precariously to the fleshy chasm inside her dress. I confess, I looked down a nanosecond longer than necessary, met the woman’s eyes and stammered, “Well?”
“Go for it, son,” she commanded.
I rescued the savior and hit my second shot.
“Aa-men,” she said.
Welcome to Elizabeth City, one of the funniest places I’ve ever called home.
Funny stuff still happens at Doug Gardner’s home in the Weeksville section of Pasquotank County.