Back when I was a kid on a lake in lovely, sylvan Connecticut, gamboling through the woods or gallivanting about with friends at their cottage down on the water, Mama used to call me home for supper. Sometimes she just cupped her hands to her mouth and bellowed, “AAAAAAYMEEEEEEEEEE,” and I’d lope up the hill. But sometimes, when she was feeling impish, she used a cow horn.
I have no idea where it came from — my mother’s side of the family, I guess. It was handed down, maybe from her grandmother, maybe her great-grandmother. Someone in Peoria long ago. Or someone in North Carolina, less long ago. Beats me. It’s one of those things I never thought to ask my mother about before she died. Or if she told me, I don’t remember.
But I do remember this about the horn: It sounded like a giant fart. And when I say a “giant fart,” I mean A GIANT FART, as in, the type of flatulence that might actually be produced by a cyclops. This is why she loved to call me home with it, because she KNEW it sounded like a giant fart, she KNEW it had no musical virtues whatsoever, she KNEW it would embarrass me terribly, and she KNEW one of our next-door neighbors, the one with the dry wit, would venture onto his porch and give her grief about it. “WHY DON’T YOU LEARN TO PLAY THAT THING?” he’d yell.
Why she didn’t come out onto steps with her violin to play the Bach Chaconne with all of her crazy-amazing virtuosity to call me home for supper, I’ll never know. Oh, I know why: because it wouldn’t have sounded like a fart.
In my twenty years of motherhood, I have never used that horn to call my children home, although I have bellowed plenty; mine is a bellowing kind of street, the sort where even if you can’t see your kid you can usually hear him, and if you can’t hear him you can be pretty sure he’s lurking somewhere fetchable by shouting. I’m not sure why I’ve never used the Mitchell Family’s Giant Farting Heirloom for these fetching purposes.
It would certainly beat texting my kids home, which I am appalled to say I now do much more frequently than bellowing. I have made a sad, shameful habit of pulling up in my car to retrieve some child at mine at some friend’s house, or some school, or some other place where in previous times I might have moved my lazy ass out of the car and retrieved them. Do you recall those days? When we rang doorbells? You remember doorbells, don’t you? But my lazy ass is now stuck. What I do is this: After driving up to the location in question, I sit in the car, whip out my evil, lazy-ass-enabling iPhone and text my offspring. And I don’t even text them a sentence. Instead, I text them one word: “here.” I don’t even capitalize the damn thing. Just: “here.”
Maybe, next time, I should bring along The Horn of Flatulence. I should roll down the window, put it up to my lips, and toot like the wind. What do you think? Do you think they’d be embarrassed? Maybe I should learn to play it first.