Among the universal truths declared by deep thinkers such as Aristotle, Galileo and Sir Isaac Newton, were these fundamental laws of our existence:
Aristotle — the earth is a sphere; Galileo — the earth orbits the sun; Sir Isaac Newton — at every great family Thanksgiving feast, there is a Big Table and a Little Table.
Ah yes, the Little Table, where the giggle fits and fun with food abide.
Most families of any size have had these Little Devil’s Islands in the dining wilderness, where tots and young pre-teens are exiled until they are capable of intelligent, adult-level conversation, such as:
Dad: “I think the Republicans have it wrong.”
Aunt Tilly: “You’re a *#%&* idiot. Please pass the asparagus.”
Dad: “Nanny nanny boo-boo, stick your head in doo-doo. More gravy?”
And other intellectual musings to which youngsters can only aspire.
I was stuck at the Little Table for many years, possibly because I once exhorted 7-year-old Cousin Nutella to “Shoot for the stars!” with her knife-and-fork pea catapult. I was 40, and may have been wrong.
In any case, I recently discovered an old family photo of our Little Table Gang that I’d like to share, along with an update on who did what in the following years.
Cousin Esperanza, the one with the fingers in her mouth, is about five minutes away from biting off two of her digits right down to the last knuckle, thus dooming her to a career as a so-so blackjack dealer with a shuffling problem.
Next to me is my brother, who is buttering both sides of his bread, which shows why he’s now retired and I’m not.
Closest to the camera is Cousin Ozzie, who is packing a cap pistol. I haven’t heard from him in years, but the last thing he said to me as they took him away was, “You rob one bank, and …”
The two girls on my left are Cousins Missy and Sissy. In this photo, Missy (far left) has just consumed a dreaded lima bean and is trying to figure out her next move.
Ultimately, it flew across the room and dropped smack onto the Big Table in front of Uncle Cosmo, who proclaimed, “I knew it! Look, everyone! It fell from heaven!”
Sissy, the sulky one, became a top IRS auditor, whose opening phrase was, “You think you got trouble now? Wait, it gets worse.”
And me? As the photo shows, I haven’t changed much at all.