The other night we went to our youngest Godson’s first birthday party. You have to understand that his wonderfully creative parents like themes when it comes to entertaining. The Christmas party was Scottish, complete with a kilted bagpiper by the front door. There have been Middle Eastern feasts, Cajun shrimp boils and better fondue than I’ve had in the Alps.
So when we got the invitation that mentioned yodeling, I knew that Heidi would be there that night. You see, the mother of the family has Swiss ancestry and the father’s is German. Clearly, dirndls and lederhosen would be the outfits of choice.
We walked into the party and there was an six-piece oompah band playing. My friend’s long blonde hair was braided into a crown around her head and festooned with flowers. The father and all three boys were in suede lederhosen. And the great German beer was plentiful.
It all reminded me of the last time I was dressed in a Heidi outfit.
You have to rewind the clock back to the mid-sixties. My uncle and his family lived in Switzerland and my grandmother would go visit him every few years. She brought back many wonderful things. Hand-carved horses. Cuckoo clocks. Beautiful nativity sets. We loved these gifts. But then, on one trip, in a fit of grand-motherly-ness that was really quite unlike her, Swiss outfits. Lederhosen (complete with beanie hats) for my cousins and nephew. Starchy dresses (complete with itchy sleeves) for me and my sister. I can say without reservation that we HATED these clothes. With every fiber of our being.
For a few months thereafter, every family gathering meant putting all the children into their Swiss outfits. One such event was a gathering at a relative’s lake house about an hour’s drive from Franklin. Into two cars we piled. Beanies, itchy sleeves and all. We drove and drove and drove.
The events that follow may not be exactly as they happened…I was only 8 and someone older might have a better recollection. But this is what I remember.
About 3/4 of the way to the lake, someone threw up. Because I don’t remember exactly who, I’m going to say it was one of the boy cousins. Naturally, his brother threw up immediately as well. Their car pulls to the side of the road and ours pulls in behind it. My aunt is trying to clean up the boys. I take one look (and sniff) and immediately vomit. And, in a measure of solidarity, my sister vomits as well. (We’d do anything to get out of those clothes.) Somewhere along the way, I feel certain that the youngest child–my nephew–hurled his own chunks.
I think I can say with all certainty that this was the first time in recorded history that 5 children wearing genuine Swiss outfits all threw up simultaneously on the side of the road in Nashville, Tennessee. I even remember our normally dressed parents gagging a little.
But, even the stench of vomit couldn’t help us shed those clothes. Our mothers cleaned us up and we went on to the lake.
And to prove it, here’s a picture from that day. (I’m the one sitting like a linebacker.)