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Sure, my family might be a little weird — but so is yours

When the lunch ladies served us tomato slices on our trays at Monroe Elementary School, I went back to tell them the sugar was missing.

Mrs. Humphrey eyed me like she was trying to figure out the prank. “Nobody puts sugar on tomatoes.”

“We do it all the time at home,” I said.

She slid me a sugar shaker. I sprinkled a layer of sweetness over the tomato. “Thank you.”

Mrs. Humphrey shook her head. “I’ve never seen anyone do that before.”

It was the first indication I had that my family was weird.

Don’t snicker. You’re family is weird, too. We all grew up with idiosyncrasies that seemed normal until our friends and neighbors scrunched their noses and gave us THAT look: “What a weirdo.”

“That’s upside down,” I told a buddy hanging my artwork on the bulletin board. I flipped it. “There, now it’s upside right.”

He gave me the look. “It’s called right-side up. ‘Upside right’ is weird.”

Nobody in my family had ever raised an eyebrow at “upside right.” Nor did they mention anything when I carried the upside right thing up the stair steps.

“They’re just stairs,” a sneering classmate chided. “Or plain ol’ steps. Saying both is weird.”

It wasn’t just stair steps. I learned from my dad that when I warshed up for supper, I must use a warshcloth.

“There’s no ‘R’ is ‘wash’ an exasperated schoolmate huffed, stabbing a finger at the giant classroom dictionary. “It’s just like in George Washington’s name.”

“Warshington,” I corrected.

“Aaaaurgghhh!”

To use one of my dad’s sayings, when it came to pronunciation, we exhibited all the grace of a cub bear in boxing gloves.

If not from Dad, maybe I got my weirdness from Mom. I remember the trip to the department store when she wanted to buy pants to wear in the barn. “I’m looking for the color of cow manure,” she told the startled clerk.

Discovering just how weird you and yours are is a lifelong journey. A while back, I stood in the kitchen with a spoon and a bib the first time my wife made pudding. She picked the saucepan off the burner, poured the pudding into ridiculously tiny little bowls, and walked right past me to the refrigerator.

“What are you doing?” I yelped.

“The pudding needs to chill.”

“Why? When I grew up, Mom made a big ol’ pot of pudding on Sunday nights, poured it into soup bowls. We ate it steaming hot, after pouring milk and sugar on it.”

Terry nearly dropped a pudding cup. “You put more milk and more sugar on pudding? And ate it hot? Now that’s… unhealthy.” She meant to say weird.

Terry and I are making our own weirdness now. Visitors always seem discombobulated when they find our refrigerator in the dining room. It’s too tall to fit beneath the cabinets.

Our guests shake their heads and mutter, “You guys are weird.”

Welcome to the family.

Share your weird family stories with Cole at burtseyeview@tribtoday.com, the Burton W. Cole page on Facebook or at www.burtonwcole.com.

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