Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Sweater Mensa

I've spent a lot of time today pondering the majesty that is the Earle family sweater. For those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about, go here. There's a link to a photo and a little explanation of what the sweater is about. The short of it is this: all the Earle's have a sweater handmade for them by Carol, master loomer. The best part is that they all match and they wear them in a group out in public. It reminds me of an Osmond Family Christmas special or a postcard for the Special Olympics. I don't mock because I love. I mock because I envy.

Having an Earle family sweater is like being invited to join an elite group like Mensa, but without the testing. The rules for earning a sweater seemed simple at first. You have Earle blood, you get a sweater. You marry an Earle, you get a sweater. Those rules makes sense. However, I noticed that there are a few "outsiders" who also own sweaters. As you may have noticed, my name is not on the list. So this begs the question: exactly how does one get invited to join Sweater Mensa?

The closest person on the outsiders list that I can draw a parallel to is Marie. Let's look at the stats. Marie is a good friend of Amy's. I'm a good friend of Amy's as well. We're the same age. We're both nice, fine upstanding citizens. We're both ladies. I will say that Marie is the nicest woman roaming the planet, but clearly my wit and charm balance out the tables. So why does Marie have a sweater and I don't? Here's my theory: Marie came into the Earle's lives when she was young, cute and vulnerable. They fell in love with her and wanted to dress her up in cute things. Bam, she dons a sweater. Me, I came into the picture as an adult and I guess they didn't want to dress me up in cute things. No sweater for me, just cold, harsh winters. I think I just missed my window of opportunity.

But could it be that simple? I fear not. There is some esoteric system they have that determines who gets a sweater. That's the only way I can explain Lou's presence on the list. Lou is Marie's husband, but come on.... he has no Earle blood, and technically he didn't marry into the family. Granted, Marie is like family, but that connection is not sweater-worthy. It might warrant a scarf or a hat, but not a whole freaking sweater. When I consider how hard Tom had to work to earn his sweater, and believe me, Amy had him working, the fact that Lou was "handed" one is as unjust as the OJ trial. Throw a flag out on the field because something foul is going on. Yes, I just compared Lou getting a sweater to a murder trial gone wrong. It is that grave of an offense and changes need to be made in the selection process.

I suggest a more structured, systematic approach to new membership. Testing would be good. The test could check for general knowledge of all things Earle with both multiple choice and essay sections. A sample question would be: "You have a swimming pool in your back yard. You choose to do what with it: a) Swim b) Float on a raft to cool off C) Fill it in with dirt and landscape it. A basic IQ test could weed out the weaker minded, and some feats of strength would be nice. I'm looking for quantifiable terms that will clearly draw the line between the haves and the have nots. Right now, it's a blurry line and I'm very confused.

Now, a brief change of subject. A note to John:

As for threatening to tell people of my porcelain phobias if I don't write on a regular basis and calling my blog "once witty" which implies it no longer is, the gauntlet has been hurled, John Earle. Not only will I write, I will rhyme and I will gibe and I will divulge the madness that is my crazy mind. The one that fears I will have to go, when I am so very far away from that porcelain commode. You thought I would shrink in fear with your taunts and threats, but you see, I have grown comfortable with my belly unrest. I no longer fear and I just embrace the fact that my stomach has no grace. It's weak and it's wild and often unkind. And yes, I am a bit obsessed with where I put my behind. It must be clean and it really must flush, but I really don't think I'm asking too much. So what say you now, Senor Earle, since I've already divulged my dirty little secret to the world?

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Travel: Earle Style

There's nothing like being called out with an active link to this blog from someone else's very popular blog to motivate me to post something. I have to thank John for doing this. It's like a writer's intervention telling me that I have a problem since my latest post had to be 6 months ago. I am pathetic.

John called me out because I have accused The Earle Family of many things, one of which is taking travel extremely seriously. Mere mortals have no idea of the amount of reading, researching, downloading, phone calling, and divination that is involved with their vacation plans. Their approach to travel is a religion, and I'm sure there are 10 travel commandments that Carol has etched in stone or cement tablets, which she made by hand. I only hope that I get to read them soon, because next year I am taking my first trip to Europe with John's daughter Amy.

I am seriously afraid I will fail at traveling Earle-style, largely because I grew up traveling less "Earlesque" than I would have liked. My family rarely traveled, and I admit, I have done and said some things in front of Amy that make me a less than attractive travel companion. For instance, I said that parts of the Bahamas were "like a third world nation" and I was actually plagued with spontaneous diarrhea when Amy wanted to take public transportation. I know it sounds ridiculous and I am not proud of those comments or events. However, I had to explain to Amy that when it comes to travel, I'm like a pre-schooler. They just say whatever comes to mind and poop in their pants all day. She seemed to appreciate the parallel that was drawn and I think she felt sorry for me. Who wouldn't?

Over the last three years I have taken great strides with my traveling skills. I would say I'm about a junior in high school now which is quite a good evolution if you ask me. I was quite surprised when Amy asked me to go to Spain next year for my birthday. It was like a rite of passage being asked on an Earle vacation. I kind of welled up when she invited me.

I realize it's not truly an Earle vacation because it will just be the two of us. I have not penetrated the holy circle that is a true Earle Family vacation such as their yearly ski trip. This has been something I have envied for years. They all wear matching sweaters, go to Colorado for a week and ski. It's sweet, it's quaint, it's all that my family vacations never were. Since I am not a family member, I realize this door is closed to me, but I have a plan. My husband and I are just going to show up one year. We'll show them. We'll make our own damn sweaters.