The infantile humor, butthole themed post I wrote the other day made me think about my little sister a lot so I thought I would share a story about her, our family and how sometimes when you teach your children that something they do is fun or funny, it may seem quite bizarre and unfunny when witnessed by others.
For example: My sister's habit of hiding behind the wall that divided the kitchen from the bedroom hallway, then jumping out with arms stretched wide, naked and yelling "Surprise!"
We were surprised the first time. It was an original idea she cooked up on her own. Even though nobody actually taught her to do it, my parents and I accidentally encouraged her by not being able to maintain our composure and laughing every time she did it, which for a short time was quite often.
She liked to make people laugh.
Of course, no matter how hilarious, there was no excuse for this behavior and she would be scolded severely and told to put her clothes back on, but my sister was not fooled by our parent’s stern tone. She knew it was damn funny because she could clearly see that our parents were barely holding it together, ready to bust out laughing again at any moment.
Meanwhile my parents lived in fear that she would perform “Surprise I'm Naked" in front of company.
It might even have been funny or cute to people outside our family if she was 3 or 4, but alas she was 11 during her naked surprise phase. As some of you may already know, my sister had Down Syndrome and although intellectually she really was about 3 or 4, people outside of our nuclear family probably would've found the naked surprise game unsettling and unfunny and rightly so.
Eventually our mother laid down the law, forced herself to wear a poker face, threatened my father and me within an inch of our lives if we dared start laughing and put a stop to the naked surprise game.
(I suppose I should give you a little more background - so if you want you can read this older post I wrote about my sister several months ago - but don't you dare feel sorry or sad because that's not why I write about her - in fact quite the opposite.)
My sister had the learning disabilities and almond shaped eyes that a lot of people naturally associate with Down Syndrome, but it also caused her to have a huge protruding tongue and the roof of her mouth to be shaped like an exaggerated lower case "n". Normal sounding speech was very difficult and frustrating for her. We all learned sign language to help her communicate, but the kid liked to talk - a lot.
Nobody but our parents and I could ever understand what the hell my sister was saying. I was probably better at it than anybody and acted as translator most of the time.
Like any normal kid, she also liked TV - a lot. In addition to cartoons, such as Scooby-Doo and all the other kid oriented shows, she loved the variety shows that used to be on in the 70's and 80's like Hee Haw, Lawrence Welk, Barbara Mandrell & the Mandrell Sisters, Sonny & Cher, and so on. With the exception of Hee Haw and Lawrence Welk, didn't we all? (No? Alrighty.)
Based upon her love a TV, cartoons, and variety shows, she liked to play a little game we called Scooby-Doo. It was easy enough to play. Basically it’s a name calling game where my sister would point in your face and say “Scooby-Doo” in an accusatory tone, followed by a big grin and a fit of giggles. The correct response, if you chose to play along, was to point in her face and call her Scooby-Doo right back. She would mix it up from time to time by using other names combed from her TV watching repertoire, based on whatever TV show, character or celebrity she was interested in at the time.
Because her speech was impaired it came out sounding like this:
Scooby-Doo = Dooby-Doop
Bo Duke = Bo Doop
Grover = Grober
David Hasselhoff = Dabid Hall
Sonny & Cher = Dunny Chair
It was delightful that something so simple could make her so happy. She could play at this game all day, which could at times, as I’m sure you can imagine, be pretty annoying, especially if you were trying to read or watch TV. However, since it was fairly uncomplicated and the power of her crazy charm was completely irresistible, we usually indulged her and played anyway, saying the names back at her correctly, but using the same accusatory tone.
It seemed like a harmless enough game until she developed her bizarre passion for Bob Hope.
Her love of variety shows peaked with Bob Hope specials. She would bring the TV Guide to my mother, jumping and squealing whenever she saw a promo for the next Bob Hope Special to make sure my mom knew what day and time it was on so she wouldn't miss it. Bob Hope's specials would be her main topic of conversation for the weeks and days prior to the airing of the show. Naturally during these times Bob Hope would be the primary focus of the Scooby-Doo name calling game.
Bob Hope = Bah Ho
Probably because we knew that she was saying Bob Hope, it never dawned on us that it sounded like Butthole, until my mom got a call from my sister's teacher when she started playing the game at school.
That was the end of the Scooby-Doo game. Sort of. My parents and I still call each other Ba Ho sometimes as an inside joke in my sister's honor. We laugh our buttholes off.
Since you read through all that, here is a picture of my sister and me taken around the time of the surprise naked escapades. She's sporting a chocolate cookie mustache and I look like I've just farted and blamed it on her. Or is it the other way around?