Sunday, January 09, 2011
"If you go hunting, you lose your place."
Growing up in my large extended family was a continuous game of musical chairs. There were never enough seats for the number of people in the room. Someone would always have to drag an uncomfortable chair from the dining room into the living room or pull up a spot on the floor.
The rule in our Cajun family was "a la chasse, tu perdre la place." If you go hunting, you lose your place. If you chose to leave the room for any reason, your seat was fair game. Parents never intervened. No seat was saved. If you got up from your nice comfy corner of the couch to go to the bathroom or kitchen, chances were that when you got back to the living room you would find your brother, who ten seconds earlier was laying on the cold floor, comfortably snuggled into your nice warm spot.
Some things never change. Friday night, I was at my mom's house with nine other adults and five children. I had successfully scored a primo spot on the corner of the couch near the fireplace with a reasonably good view of the Cotton Bowl game on the television.
I had decided I would leave at halftime, but midway through the second quarter, I got thirsty. Really thirsty. Parched, in fact. I surveyed the room with "a la chasse, tu perdre la place" ringing in my ears. Every relative became suspect.
Would my uncle straining his neck on the opposite corner of the couch grab my seat for an un-neck-binding view of the game?
Would my 12 year old cousin who was sitting on the floor take my place forcing me to play the "I'm an old lady" card when I returned with my drink?
Would some other relative come in from another room and excitedly plop down in the best seat in the room quietly patting themselves on the back for their unlikely score?
So, instead of going to the kitchen for a drink, I sat there. I didn't dare move. My throat felt like sandpaper, but by god, I wasn't leaving that couch.
I did leave at halftime and when I got home, I guzzled a big glass of water like I had just crossed the Sahara. Then, I sat wherever the hell I wanted.