One of George’s biggest fans was a little girl in our neighborhood who used to spend a lot of time at our house. Well… all the girls love George. But Hannah was particularly fond of him – even after he told her that when someone sticks up their middle finger it means “I love you” in Japan. She was upset because she saw some bigger kids do that and George thought he could comfort her with a lie. He didn’t know she would do a demonstration and share that lesson with her parents. Hannah didn’t know George was lying. Hannah’s parents did. Such is life with George….
The good news is that Hannah’s parents also love George. Her mom told me the story about a hymn they sang in church called “You Shall Go Out With Joy”. Hannah thought it was called “You Shall Go Out With George” and that’s the way she sang the song, with her long spiral curls, farm-tanned skin and beautiful smile.
You shall go out with GEORGE
And be let forth with peace,
And the mountains and the hills
Will break forth before you
There’ll be shouts of GEORGE
And all the trees of the fields
Will clap, will clap their hands
And all the trees of the fields
will clap their hands
The trees of the fields will clap their hands
The trees of the fields will clap their hands
While you go out with GEORGE
George’s self-deprecating humor is one of the many, many things I love about him. He loves to laugh at himself almost as much as he likes to laugh at other people. He is quick to share stories about his mistakes and other embarrassing moments, embellishing them over the years as he does with all his stories. Our family members may tire of these stories, but I thought it would be fun to share a few on here. And, for the sake of my children, I’ve included some new ones too.
We traveled to Michigan for my cousin’s wedding many years ago. It was a rare opportunity to put on our fancy clothes and pretend we had some class. George chose a beautiful suit he had only worn one time… nice shirt, sharp tie and black dress shoes. Nobody would ever know he was a logger from Vermont. He looked so handsome. I felt so proud. As we were leaving the hotel room, he went to put on his shoes and noticed they didn’t match. They were both black, but they were not a pair. Oh jeeze!!! What did he do, pack his bag with his eyes closed?!! Rather than wear mismatching shoes, he wore his tan workboots. Good lord, I married a redneck!! He was the life of the party… and he’s certainly the love of my life.
In the summer of 1995 we were without childcare for a brief spell. So George and I divided our work schedules and took turns being home with the kids. George failed in this endeavor and we quickly found someone better equipped to take care of our children while we worked. One day I came home from work to find a large piece of broken glass in our storm door.
When I asked George what happened, he told me that Shawn had turned our plastic kiddie pool upside down with Erik underneath it and proceeded to jump on top of it. As George told the story, the boys stood sheepishly to the side. It was clear nobody was injured, so the story seemed pretty funny to me. But it didn’t explain our broken door. Then George explained that he was very upset by this incident and slammed the door when he went in the house to get away from our precious boys who were trying to kill each other.
A few weeks later, George was feeling brave and decided to take Erik and Weston to Lake Shaftsbury. Weston was only four months old, so George brought the baby carriage to the lake. He parked the carriage a short distance away on a small hill while he and Erik walked to the water’s edge to look for minnows and crayfish. They reached the edge just in time to look back and see the carriage careening down the hill toward the lake. The front wheels hit the water and baby Weston was catapulted out of the carriage and into the water. As George tells the story, Weston’s arms were spread out like wings as he flew from the carriage. And he never cried!! On the other hand, Erik freaked out! George scooped Weston and the carriage out of the lake and decided their short visit to the beach was finished. He grabbed everything and started making a beeline toward the car. But Erik stood at the edge of the lake screaming that Weston’s blanket was still in the water. Erik didn’t understand George’s shame. Having been instilled with values against littering and waste, Erik was more concerned about retrieving our belongings and not polluting the lake. George was so humiliated by his parenting faux pas that he just wanted to disappear from the crowd of mothers and children sitting on the beach nearby. He didn’t care about the “stupid blanket”. Such is life with George…
To be fair, I will tell one of my own embarrassing stories. Maybe a year after the above photos of the kids were taken, I was in the kiddie pool with the boys. We had graduated to a larger pool – but it was still much too small for adults to swim in. What can I say, it was hot!! We were sitting and splashing and playing and the boys decided to go inside and play video games. I stayed in the pool… alone. And at the moment I was alone in the kiddie pool on our deck in the backyard, a UPS truck pulled into the yard with a delivery. I sunk into the pool and tried to make myself invisible, hoping the driver would leave our package and drive away. No such luck. He came up on the deck and caught me hiding alone in the kiddie pool – with no kids in sight. Oy!!
George loves to tell the story about one of the many times he went to the drive-thru at Dunkin Donuts to get a coffee. He waited patiently for someone to greet him and take his order. He grew less and less patient as the seconds turned into minutes and nobody had spoken to him. He started muttering to himself and cursing the Dunkin Donuts’ staff, he leaned out his window and yelled into what he thought was the microphone. It was then that he realized he was parked next to a garbage can designed especially for drive-up convenience. I’ve since learned he’s not the only one who has made this mistake.
On another occasion he was eating his lunch while driving and dropped a chip on the seat between his legs (maybe it was on the floor, I can’t remember exactly). He reached down, picked it up and blindly put it in his mouth. It was not a potato chip. He swallowed it before he could stop himself and doesn’t know what he ate with his lunch that day. Some things are better not known. If you ever saw the inside of George’s truck, you would understand.
A few years ago, George needed to sand the icy entry to his log landing so that the log truck could get in to pick up a load of logs. Near the landing there was a large, fresh pile of dirt that was left by a local farmer (Hannah’s dad!). George thought it was his lucky day. He dug up the dirt to spread along the road for better traction. When driving past the dirt pile at the end of the day, he noticed a death smell emanating from the pile. As he looked closer, he discovered the head of a dead cow partly exposed where he had been digging. Oops!
For many years, we hosted a New Year’s Eve party for my exchange students. In 2007, there were about 20 kids celebrating the new year and spending the night at our house. Shortly after midnight, George went to bed and the party continued for a few more hours. He woke up as one of my female students was coming into our bedroom to go to bed. He was out of town the last time this group of students had spent the night at our house, so Mariam didn’t realize this was our bedroom. When George asked her what she was doing, she told him this is where she slept the last time. He calmly told her she couldn’t sleep there on this night and tried to go back to sleep hoping that none of the other students would try climbing in bed with him. It’s no wonder he had a dream that a family of Iraqis were living in our house, wondering what HE was doing there!!
Last week we were out to dinner at one of our favorite restaurants called Desperados. George ordered fish nachos, his own invention, and only ate half the huge plate. When he asked the waitress to box the rest, she told him they would not taste very good reheated. We’re regulars – I’m sure she doesn’t say stuff like that to other customers. He begged to differ with her opinion and assured her they would be delicious. “A taste sensation,” he insisted. And then he explained that he would be reheating them on the engine of his skidder and that in the middle of the woods on a cold January day everything is delicious. To which she said, “You sound like a redneck.” And George beamed with pride.
Sunday we went to see the movie War Horse. It was a powerful and moving film and I cried through the last thirty minutes of it. I’m not allowed to say if George cried. When the movie finished, I put away my tissues and prepared to leave. I looked over to see George inspecting his very dirty seat. I watched him as he tried to use his empty box of Sno-Caps to scrape off whatever was on his seat. All the loose nonpareils from his candy started to pour on the seat as he scraped the box back and forth. He gasped, picked up the box, turned it over and started scraping the seat with the other end. The nonpareils continued to pour out and I tried to nonchalantly walk away. As I neared the aisle George loudly exclaimed, “Oh my God, it’s coming out both ends!!”. In a state of mortification, I walked more quickly toward the exit hoping to distance myself from this man who will be with me “til death do us part”. Such is life with George…
Last night I was talking with our Indonesian son, Imo, who lived with us in 2006-2007. We were talking about how George always makes people laugh and everybody loves him. Imo described George as such: “no tension… no anger… he is just an oasis in the desert.” I was so touched by Imo’s fond memories of life with George. It certainly is fun sharing my life with him. I can’t imagine a life without laughter. I can’t imagine a life without George.
Don’t worry, George – I didn’t tell all your stories!! You can still tell people how you thawed the frozen battery connectors on your skidder. Or what you stepped in during one of my first days working with you on Sunrise Mountain. I’m just spreading the joy – or “the George,” as Hannah would say.