Get your Blog Hop shoes on! Today’s topic: fiasco! As inspired by Alexandra from Good Day, Regular People, who wrote a great piece on it. I hope you’ll play along and click over to the links at the end.
The best part of a fiasco is that it’s not a tragedy. You can look back on it and laugh and laugh because no one died and – with any luck – everyone still has all their limbs. A fiasco is defined by chaos, insanity, confusion and – running like an electrical current just underneath - hilarity. Of course, the hilarity is best enjoyed after the fiasco itself, along with the disbelief, awe, and amazement that you finagled your way out of the lion’s den.
The tale of fiascoes past makes for a perfect Thanksgiving tale, so gather ’round!
The year was…who the hell knows. I want to say 1989 because I was eleven-ish. My family was living in Saudi Arabia, but it was before Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait and before Gulf War I and before a lot of other shitty things. Life was good.
On this day in 1989, it was my mom’s big ballet show. ”The Little Mermaid?” Yes, that sounds right. You see, my mom ran her own ballet company (I know you’re thinking ballet? Saudi Arabia? But yes, a pointe shoe CAN bloom in the desert!) and every year, there was a large-scale production at the community theater.
It’s no surprise that the FIASCO! happened on show day because no matter how many show days my family went through, it was always the same: yelling, screaming, stage makeup, sequins, tights, last-minute tech glitches. My father usually spent show day stewing. Literally. Which meant there was also a pot of beans on the stove.
We left the house in a blaze of hairspray and tulle and I don’t want to disappoint you, but the show was great. I did not misjudge the edge of the stage and fly into the audience, the curtain did not crash down, no one got maimed or had a Black Swan psychotic episode. My mom, brother, sister and I got into the car, while my father, perhaps a bit overwhelmed with all the squealing and blue eyeshadow, decided to walk home. We bid him adieu and drove away.
Yes, dear reader, the FIASCO! is nigh – can you feel it? The dramatic tension? The low beating of drums and creepy violin solo? Had we been in a movie, my 4-yr-old brother would have stared vacantly into space and started whispering incoherently.
We pulled into the driveway and while my mother unloaded costumes and sets, my siblings and I opened the front door and smoke billowed out. There was no visibility, smoke was everywhere. We must have started screaming for my mother, who quickly tallied the facts and knew immediately that THE MOTHERFUCKING BEANS WERE STILL COOKING ON THE STOVE. Quickly remembering and disregarding the #1 rule of fire safety – to never go into smoke-filled, burning house – my mother raced inside the smoke-filled, burning house. Her instructions to her young children? Wait right there.
Minutes later – or hours, I can’t be sure – she reappeared: sooty, disheveled, strung out on adrenaline. Using potholders (yes, apparently she had the wherewithal to FIND THE POTHOLDERS), she took the smoking pot – seconds from combusting – off the stove, turned the stove off, and called the fire department. Did I mention that she was still IN A SMOKE-FILLED HOUSE?
And so the firemen came. They sucked all the smoke out. Assessed the damage and inspected every inch of the house and garage. The garage in which my parents had a homemade still where they made their own wine and I can tell you’re wondering if the grapes were organic and what the terroir in the desert was like, but just so you know, the terroir for making wine in the desert sucks especially seeing as how ALCOHOL IS ILLEGAL.
It is at this point that I descend into a spiral of “My So-Called Life” pre-teen angst. I still hadn’t been inside the house, but I was pretty sure it was trashed. I said a prayer for my Bobbie Brown cassette and my new pink phone that played “Greensleeves” when I pushed the ‘hold’ button, not that a pink phone mattered when you’re deported. I was convinced that the firemen would find the still and we’d be goners.
I sat on the curb outside the house, still in my “Little Mermaid” costume, sobbing. My father was definitely going to jail and I didn’t know a lot about Saudi jails except that you didn’t want to be in one. I mentally rehearsed goodbyes to friends and teachers: teary and heartfelt, but classy. Maybe I would crimp my hair for the last day of school. Feeling that honesty was the best policy – and that my sister should share my pain – I let her know that dad would be locked in a Saudi jail and that we’d go back to California with mom, send postcards, and hope for the best. My sister and I clung to each other hysterically. Where was my brother? I don’t know. Probably playing in the street.
Roadside histrionics eventually lost its appeal and my grieving process made its way inside. I wandered despondently from room to foul-smelling room – I think I even called a few friends and told them the tragic news. When I finally found my mother and clung to her, crying “MOM WE’RE GONNA HAVE TO LEAVE FOREVER WHAT ABOUT THE STILL IS DAD GOING TO JAIL WE’RE GONNA HAVE TO LEEEEEEAVE!,” this is what she told me:
“No, honey, they saw the still. Everything is fine.”
The firefighters saw that my parents made booze? Like every other family? And everything was fine? Did that mean I couldn’t crimp my hair and be the most popular girl for a day and move to California and get a boyfriend? WHAT. THE. FUCK. For a brief instant, I felt like Brenda Walsh trying to keep a wave of Shannon Doherty rage at bay.
At some point, my father arrived, refreshed from his afternoon saunter, only to discover himself at the center of the Fiasco! – a whodunit in which it was him who did it and though the beans weren’t talking, the pot was still smoking. I can’t remember if my mother hit him over the head with the pot or if, at the end of the day, they thanked God they were still employees in the Kingdom over a big glass of homemade wine.
In summation: I danced the role of Ariel the Mermaid’s mother, my mother almost died in a fire, the firefighters discovered our illegal wine-making still, everything was fine. From Fiasco! to non-event in record time.
But I think you all should know that I still crimped my hair the next day.
Enjoy these other juicy tales of fiascoes and have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
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