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Saturday, May 4, 2013

You Muddah Mus' Be Beh-yee Boodeefo

A re-post, while I battle -- through inertia! -- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.  Enjoy!

My sister is beautiful.

You can imagine how this has gotten on my nerves over the years.

Not that I’m not attractive as well, but Karen has never had an awkward phase, has never been overweight, required glasses, or split her pants in public.

Naturally, I’m against this.

I mean, her beauty doesn’t make me love her less, but it does make me wish she’d get a pimple or two, if only for the weekend.

We’ve not let this unfortunate case of being pigeon-holed by our parents as The Pretty One (her) and The Smart One (me) get in the way of our relationship, however. I’ve had some very good times with my sister, including drunken arm wrestling and anonymously mailing her coupons for gas-reduction products addressed to Bloated and Musical Occupants.

I was thinking about her the other day, thinking about beauty and what it means, and I remembered a little Vietnamese restaurant that opened in our town when Karen and I were teenagers.

Minnesota, in the late 70s/early 80s, welcomed to its chilly bosom a large amount of immigrants from Viet Nam, primarily Hmong. One minute there were no Hmong, and the next there were plenty.

Who are Hmongs? Oh, just a mountain-dwelling people who were the United States’ allies in the Viet Nam War.

If you’ve seen the movie Gran Torino, those are Hmongs, there with Clint Eastwood.

And yes, the Lutherans sponsored them.

The new Asian place was pretty decent, especially considering that Asian restaurants in most parts of Minnesota in the early 80s tended to be run by people whose last name was Larson, included entrees heavily laden with celery, and came with horrible packets of dark-brown liquid purported to be soy sauce.

And so it was that we were in this restaurant one afternoon, no doubt picking up and dropping our food with the chopsticks we were determined to master, when a woman about four foot nothing approached our table.

“You,” she says, looking at Karen, “You muddah mus’ be beh-yee boodeefo!”

Karen looks at me with “What?!” in her eyes.

“I’m sorry?” Karen says to the woman.

“You muddah mus’ be beh-yee boodeefo!”

Karen smiles. “Thank you.”

And with no further conversation, the woman turns around and goes back into the kitchen.

Karen leans over the table and whispers, “What did she say?”

“She said your mother must be very beautiful.”

And then we sat there, quietly, both of us reflecting on this most interesting of compliments. She saw, not the physical beauty in Karen, but the beauty that must have come before her.

And then we laughed. Our physical attributes were passed to us. Sure, we choose to wash our hair and wear lipstick, but the rest is purely luck.

We are who we are. Sometimes it is chosen for us, sometimes it is as a result of our own efforts, and sometimes we have a leg-up by way of parentage.

Either way, I’ll bet your mother was very beautiful.


savannah said...

a good way to keep yourself in check, right? i'll remember this one for a long time, sugar! take it easy. xoxoxo

The Savage said...

You're beautiful too...

mybabyjohn/Delores said...

My Mom WAS beautiful but I inherited my Dads funny bone.

Indigo Roth said...

Wisdom. I got brains, and squarely blame my parents. Looks? Nah, it skipped a generation. We love ya Peg!

Optimistic Existentialist said...

I didn't get my parents looks OR brains :)

joeh said...

Yu mudah mus aso bee beh ee funay

Eva Gallant said...

I'll take brains over looks any day. (I have to say that, because looks over-looked me!)

sage said...

I remember sending my brother information on life insurance for those over 50 (this doesn't seem so funny now, but when I was 16, it did). And an old man came by to call on my brother to sell him some insurance and my mom gave me a good dose of guilt!

Good story, good message, may your Carpel Tunnel become a thing of the past!

Yamini MacLean said...

Hari OM
All mothers are beautiful in my book. Love with the capital ell beats pretty and brainy like a straight flush!

Happy memories Pearl - glad you shared YAM xx {:}

NotesFromAbroad said...

I don't know why this made me cry.
I read it before .. I don't think I cried.
But the sweetness of the lady, the way you two took the compliment and how you see it .. where it came from .. made me cry.
Love you Pearl, C

Jackie said...

Do hope your carpal tunnel syndrome abates. My Daddy had surgery to correct his. Hopefully, you will find something less invasive to help you. Take care...

jenny_o said...

You're right - we all start out with a box of stuff that we never had a thing to do with, and how we use it or add to it or throw it away is all up to us :) I think you scored a trifecta, Pearl - looks, brains and a sense of humour! Take care of those paws, eh?

Lorna said...

From the photo I saw of you, you're pretty attractive yourself.

vanilla said...

This story has a great shelf-life. As good as or better than the first reading. The truth: we don't pick what we are given, but we do make the choice of what to do with it.

Mr. Charleston said...

Fortunately, I am the best looking of four boys. Of course, no one believe this but me, but it's the truth. Too damned bad I am such a geek. No telling what I could have accomplished if I was just ordinary.

Goldenoldenlady said...

My mother sure was a beauty, especially in her 20s. I was once looking at an old studio portrait of her, when my parents would have been by then in their fifites and sixties, and asked my dad was Mummy very beautiful when she was young, when he first met her.

"Oh, aye, she was," he answered, and then added drily, "Mind you, somebody had told her..."

Daisy said...

Aw, very sweet post! I love this. :-)

Simply Suthern said...

Karen's Sister is kinda hot too!