If my life wasn’t funny it would just be true, and that is unacceptable. – Carrie Fisher, Wishful Drinking
I got an email from one of my best friends last year after she saw Carrie Fisher’s one-woman show, Wishful Drinking. I’d yet to see it. She told me I had to. I must. If only because Fisher charts her family tree in a way I might find, well, familiar.
You see, I have about a dozen grandparents. And our tree looks a bit Fisher’s visual aid:
When you’re a kid you want to be like everyone else. Which is why in elementary school when my dad would show up unannounced with McDonalds for lunch, my sister and I greeted him in horror in the Main Office. How could you? Big Macs and large fries? How can we take that to the lunch benches! Or the fits we’d have when my mother would talk about plans to cut her hair a la Annie Lennox ca. 1986. Why can’t you have hair like the other mothers? Why are you trying to ruin our lives? We were good kids. I swear. We still apologize for the McDonald’s surprise gone awry.
And yet, with all the desire to be like the other kids, we were indifferent to the fact we had more grandparents than you can count on two hands. I can only imagine it was because the great big family was there long before preadolescence. Mom’s potential platinum flattop, not so much.
While watching Wishful, for the first time it really hit me that while most people found Fisher’s tree entertaining, I just found it relatable. It made sense to me that you’d need visual aids to explain just two generations in a family. That everyone met and worked together and fell in love and fell out of love and sometimes fell in love again. In my family we’ve been known to pull out napkins at restaurants to draw visual aids of our own. On a date, when the simple question of family comes up, out comes the pen and paper.
As big and twisting as our family tree, it is filled with some incredible, wonderful, complicated, funny stories. This is my normal. Being like everyone else? Completely overrated. xo a.
And now, four more great things someone else said about families, life, and laughter:
If you cannot get rid of the family skeleton, you may as well make it dance. – George Bernard Shaw
My mother wanted us to understand that the tragedies of your life one day have to potential to be the comic stories the next. – Nora Ephron
The family, that dear octopus from whose tentacles we never quite escape, nor in our innermost hearts never quite wish to. – Dodie Smith
Family isn’t a word. It’s a sentence. – Wes Anderson, The Royal Tenenbaums
If you’ve yet to see Fisher’s show, be sure to check out the HBO documentary info, here.