The Gunch family has been getting a reputation. Not good.
My mother-in-law, Ms. Larda, is very upset. Last month there was the mix-up, which was NOT her fault, at her Catholic ladies’ book club. She had recommended “River of Fire,” an inspirational book by a nun, and she had no idea it had the same title as a sizzling romance novel. Half the ladies read the romance novel “by accident,” and some of them were so scandalized they read it twice.
Before that, back at Carnival time, my sister-in-law Gloriosa turned her house on Carrollton Avenue into a Mardi Gras float house. She used a COVID theme, and hung a gigantic mask across the entire front, and put two enormous googly eyes up on the balcony, peering over the top of the mask.
But some people – maybe most people – mistook the mask for a corset, like the dance house girls wear in old westerns, and the googly eyes for giant boobs oozing over the top. This caused a few fender benders. And people going by on the streetcar almost fell out the windows. Everybody started calling it “the boob house.”
Gloriosa’s husband’s mother, Ms. Sarcophaga, who lives next door, did not appreciate this. Every year she tastefully hangs out her tasteful flag from when she was Queen of some tasteful krewe or other, and this year hardly nobody noticed it. But she did hear somebody call her house “that house next to the boob house.”
After Mardi Gras, instead of the whole thing down, Gloriosa just pasted a couple of shamrocks on the googly eyes. But them pasties made it even worse.
Finally, Ms. Sarcophaga told her, in a loud voice, to take the googly eyes down entirely. She does, but she leaves the mask up. She decides to make an Easter scene with a giant carrot, and a bunny, and some huge Easter eggs.
The mask – which my mother-in-law Ms. Larda helped her make by sewing together a bunch of canvas drop cloths – was shaped like an upside-down triangle, which unfortunately helped give it that corset look. Gloriosa rearranges it by folding in the top parts so it hangs straight down. That can be the carrot.
She just needs a bunny and the Easter eggs at ground level.
She has two big boxwood hedges growing by her front porch, right under the balcony. She rounds off their corners with hedge clippers. Next, she finds a couple of blue roof tarps in the garage and wraps the bushes to look like big round eggs next to the carrot.
She is inside figuring out how to create a bunny when Ms. Larda happens to drive past.
Well. She almost runs off the road. She pulls over and calls me, hysterical. “Modine! I ain’t got a dirty mind – but this erection here, which my own daughter got on display…. Please come over and tell her what this looks like.”
But before I get there, somebody – maybe a lot of somebodies – called up Gloriosa’s husband Proteus at his office. Somebody texted him a picture.
Now, he knows Gloriosa will be upset if he asks her to take it down, but he also knows what his mother will do if that carrot stays erect. Their house will get another nickname, and he will never hear the end of it.
The thing is, Proteus has enough money to hire professional artists, and he could have done that back before Gloriosa made the Mardi Gras house float herself, but he was too cheap.
No time to count pennies now. He makes some phone calls. Then he goes home and tells Gloriosa that they are going to have a stupendous professional Easter decoration, the envy of Carrollton Avenue.
Next thing, a crew of real professional float artists turn up, and erect – I mean put up – three humongous bunnies that must have come off some Easter-themed floats in one of the major parades. Gloriosa loves them. More important, they block the view of the towering carrot.
I tell Ms. Larda we can hold up our heads again. The “big boob house” was just a flash in the…