Twelve Days Ago:
General (later U.S. President) Eisenhower would have been proud of her.
She waltzed in, landed in my La-Z-boy chair, put her tired feet up, and calmly announced that she was staying for a visit. She then instructed my children to fetch her bags from the distraught cab driver standing at the door, which room to put then in, and which ones to unpack!
I was at work when this happened.
MiLady sent me a text message to call home. When I did, I couldn’t believe what happened.
“Do you want me to come home now?” I asked in a raising panic. “Is she causing trouble?”
“No, no trouble yet,” my favourite girl replied quietly, “But if she places a breakfast order for tomorrow morning, you’re making it!”
“Alright,” I answered, still worried. “Are you okay?”
MiLady chuckled, “I am, but Chef wants to talk to you.”
Chef is our youngest, 17yo and almost 5’10” with thick mop of red hair like Ron Weasley from the Harry Potter books and films.
“Dad,” he said followed by a long pause, “how is She related to you?”
“I married her.”
“Not Mum!” he stammered, “Our visitor!”
“She isn’t really,” I started, “But she’s been around since I was small; your Grams and GranDa treated her like a daughter, so … she’d be like an auntie to you, I guess.”
For your own safety, as many of my new followers are not familiar with Nostalgia, allow me to give you a little background on her.
Almost every genealogist is familiar with the running joke that genealogy is an incurable virus. The sicker you get … etc, etc, etc. Well, Nostalgia is far worse! This Old Bat is very … unique (to put it nicely).
She loves history — your history, my history, their history, and so on — and has a very odd way of recounting events, particularly the ones that you got HER mixed up in! She’ll mention something and then you will make the mistake of questioning her about it! (Trust me, the first time you meet her, you WILL question her.).
She then tilts her head down slightly, looks at you over the rims of her half-glasses and perfectly re-creates the wicked grin of The Grinch — yes, the same one who stole Christmas. Then, in a sugary-sweet, sing-songy way, she hints a little more about the embarrassing incident from your younger days.
Gears and fly-wheels spin, squeak and smoke, as your foggy gray matter struggles to remember the details.
Then she chuckles softly and her eyes sparkle as her Grinchy grin somehow expands into the wide gleam of a hungry Cheshire Cat. When this happens, you are doomed!
She’ll prattle on and on to anyone in ear-shot about the event, as though she were reciting your Curriculum Vitae without missing a beat!
But, then (if you’re extremely lucky), the Banshee will slip up early on rather than days later. And like your morning coffee, total recollection kicks in and you can attest to the aftermath and punishment that followed your shared adventure. But, by the time you look up to confront her — she is gone — clipping away and out the door/room with an over-the-shoulder wave and a chipper “Toodles, Dearie!”
After a few visits, you realize that she always manages to escape further questioning. (Far too many times I have wondered if she is related to the late Henry Houdini.).
My last few encounters has involved her unique interest in genealogy. Her passionate twist on the hobby has involved inflicting her methodology and presence upon others. Genealogy rock-stars, Footnote Maven and The Pirate Queen of GenChat being the most recent victims of her visits.
But that all changed not too long ago.
A faint whimper came from my cellphone, but I blamed it on the bad connection as it had been crackling throughout my conversation with my wife.
The next thing I heard was MiLady again, reminding me to bring home milk and some eggs.
Three hours later, my shift at work ended and I had a gruesome 40minutes of driving before I could walk through the front door of my castle and see for myself that my family had come to no harm at the hands of my nemesis!
My Girl was at the door. She quickly handed off the milk and eggs to Chef towering over her, while I shucked my work boots and jacket. Then, hugging her close, I whispered:
“What proclamations has She announced to the Common Peoples?”
“Nothing yet,” was her equally soft reply. “But, now you’re home that might change?”
“I don’t know. Is She still holding Court …” I said pointing towards what used to be called our living room.
MiLady and Chef both nodded.
One last deep breath and I turned the corner.
“Oh, Dearie,” her shrill cry pierced the Tranquility, “There you are!”
With arms and legs flailing, Nostalgia tried to sit up … twice. Exasperated, she out-stretched her arms and bellowed for:
MiLady and Chef rushed to either side and struggled to help her out of my chair.
It was upsetting to see her turn my family into her hired help. I couldn’t take it, so I put my foot down … on the footrest of my chair and pushed it shut.
Nostalgia was catapulted out of the chair like a cork from a wine bottle, slamming into me.
Catching her in my arms, I looked down to see her relieved to be out of my chair but a little shaken from the abrupt method I took to do it.
“I believe we have met like this before,” I told her. The Old Banshee just smiled over her lenses and patted my chest.
“Yes,” she agreed, as she staggered out towards the kitchen like a drunkard. “Do you have any coffee made?”
Four minutes later we were sitting opposite each other at the dining table; drinks at the ready.
“I thought you were going to England, Gia,” I said as I poured my second cup of Irish tea. [“Gia” — pronounced “Gee-Ahh,” has been a childhood pet-name for Nostalgia — a friend of the family for way too many years, from as far back as I can (and dare) to remember.].
“I have to budget for RootsTech, Dearie,” she answered as she clutched her steaming cup of black coffee.
“You’re still going to go to that?” I asked, genuinely interested. “He won’t be there, you know.”
She sighed deeply, like a typical Disney princess disappointed that “Someday my prince will come” will not happen this upcoming year.
“Yes, and if I remember correctly I told you that!” she giggled. “It will still be fun finding others about and inquiring if any of them have heard of you. I expect one or two probably … after all, Dearie, you’re not Tom MacEntee or Dick Eastman or … “
“Or Joshua Taylor!” MiLady chimed in, sitting beside me with her coffee cup. “I saw him on that T.V. roadshow … he is too cute!” Then leaning over to my right side, she whispered, “Sorry, Dear’st, he is cute, but I love you!”
Then looking across the dining table, MiLady continued, “And I am glad that you are doing so much better, Nostalgia! I heard that you were out of sorts at Treeverne, the other night.”
“Thank you, Dearie,” she beamed, “But I do not remember anything of that evening; I must have blacked out.”
[PANIC MODE! PANIC MODE! PANIC MODE!]
“Gia, what DO you remember?” I asked, as my eyes darted across the room to the running board drawer where the liquor cabinet key was kept.
“You left me in Treeverne, you nasty man!” she retorted. “The lights were off, empty bottles were in the sink and dishwasher, broken glasses everywhere …”
I cringed tighter and tighter into a semi-fetal position. The thought of what she described could not have happened.
I know it didn’t happen like that, because I was there!
Thirteen Nights Ago: October 31
I was at the bar — Treeverne Upon the Gene — putting away the bottles and kegs that had been delivered a day earlier than usual, when the wooden catherdral-esque doors burst open with a massive slam!
“HE’S NOT GOING?!?” shrieked through the rafters.
She was a sorry sight: her long hair looked like it was back-combed. Bits of autumn leaves and tiny twigs were splattered about in it. Her outfit was muddied and she was missing one of her classy earrings; but I couldn’t resist …
“You’re a wee bit early for the Halloween costume party tonight, Gia,” I snickered. “But you should win hands-down.”
“I paid good money for this hairdo, mind you,” she whined, looking about to see if anyone else was in the bar. (I was alone, unfortunately.).
“Minus the leaves, etc, of course,” she finished, struggling to get into the high bar stool.
“I’ll charge ya half, next time, and stick your finger in the wall socket,” I continued to tease. “Will guarantee the same results.”
Once seated, she dismissed me and any formal or cordial greeting — the door slam must have been the pre-announcement of her visit, I think.
I poured a couple glasses of a California Meritage wine (from a New Jersey supplier). I then offered her one. She took both!
“He’s not going!” she whimpered, downing the first goblet.
“Who isn’t going?” I asked.
She quickly threw back the second. “And I think I know why,” she continued, before holding both out at arms’ length for refilling!
“Who isn’t going?!?” I asked forcefully while filling the glasses again.
“Him,” she growled. [Drink] “He’s probably going to play Pirates — she stopped to drink the other, then continued — “on the High Seas in a rubber dinghy somewhere!”
As I filled the glasses – again – it struck me!
“You told him,” I said, rolling my eyes at the thought. “You sent him a message and told him that you were going to meet him there!”
She sniffled before nodding.
“But, why, Gia?” I asked. “You told me that you wanted to surprise him!”
“I know!” she sobbed uncontrollably into her hands, as I stood there dumb-founded with an empty wine bottle. Contemplating if I should end all this insane misery and bop her with it!
Looking about feverishly, I found the coward’s way out and offered an emerald-green bar towel to her instead. She took it!
Her tears were intense. Her normally caked-on makeup was running down her cheeks — and from across the bar, it was an absolutely terrible sight: her face was melting and I didn’t have my video camera!
Only another woman could understand the complex, emotional — and possibly hormonal — situation facing me. A disheveled, sopping wet mess that had once been a beautiful woman at some time (long ago), was crumpled opposite me.
I gingerly reached across the table, and stroked her hair.
“There, there, Gia, it’s all right.”
“No, it’s not!” she growled in a deep demonic voice, but looking up just long enough for me to see a pair of cat’s eyes pulsing red.
I retracted my arm quickly and reached below the bar for another bootleg bottle from The Garden State.
“Yep, you need more to drink,” I said nervously, as I slid both re-filled glasses towards her.
Three and a half bottles later — about 45 minutes — her crying faded enough that some of her words were coherent.
Nostalgia had been severely infected with the Genealogy Virus, to such a degree that she was the hazardous equivalent to Typhoid Mary!
Between the database websites and Google search engine, she amassed volumes of information; but not all of it relevant (if that makes any sense.). During her research gathering, she encountered the works of field specialists or “genealogy rock stars”. And one name stood out over them all – Thomas MacEntee.
This poor fellow became her hero; and after reading her expressively detailed text to see him, the same frightening images probably raced through his terrified mind as they did mine: “FATAL ATTRACTION” with Michael Douglas and Sharon Stone; and, “MISERY” with James Caan and Kathy Bates!
“Gia, ya need to sleep this off,” I spoke softly. “But, ya cannae stay here.”
Not a sound came from her, nor a flinch.
“Gia? Are ya dead?” I braved losing a finger, and poked her. She teetered slowly to the left, as I then struggled over the bar to stop her from tumbling to the floor!
Rushing about, I dragged her to Treeverne’s back (delivery) door and called a taxi-cab.
You can imagine my surprise, when a car arrived within ten minutes. In the darkness it was difficult to read the vehicle’s rear fender number.
“666?” I shake it off.
After helping me get her into the backseat, I stuff four 20s into the driver’s hand.
“She is staying at the motel up the street,” I tell him.
He nods, climbs into the vehicle and drives off, his tires screeching …
Back to Twelve Days Ago:
“Then, pray tell, how did I end up back at Treeverne?”