My “Drama in Real Life” Addiction

When I was little, we would often go to visit my grandmother, who lived in Idaho. She lived very spartanlya spartan life, and in fact never cooked on anything but a wood-burning stove. She raised 11 children in a farmhouse that did not have an inside bathroom. Anyway, she did not have a lot of money, and there were not games or toys there for kids to play with. I think we were probably expected to spend our time outside chopping wood, helping in the garden, or walking to the post office to get mail. There were two main inside activities: jigsaw puzzles and old Reader’s Digests. I liked to do the puzzles, but more often than not, there would be a piece missing, which was pretty frustrating for an obsessive person like me.

That left Reader’s Digests. They were wonderful–and there were dozens, if not hundreds of them, all stacked neatly under the stairs. I liked reading the jokes, but I loved doing the quizzes in “It Pays to Increase Your Word Power.” As a kid, these seemed kind of hard to me, and I learned a LOT of words that way.

But even more wonderful were the “Drama in Real Life” stories. I already had a bit of a morbid imagination (what with seeing my brother’s terrible accident at an early age), and these stories fit right into my vision of the world. You think you’re having a happy family picnic? Think again, there’s a cougar just waiting to attack. You think you’ll swim out to that island? Did you forget about rip tides!!? What about a nice hike in the desert? Why did you not bring any water? But my very most memorable story was about a brother and sister who were sent to feed the animals during a blizzard. They dutifully held on to the rope that led them back and forth (since it was a complete whiteout), and I can’t remember how they managed to wander off, but wander off they did–to a potential frozen grave if they stopped moving and went to sleep! They curled together and took turns keeping each other awake, playing games, moving their extremities. They were rescued, of course (it wouldn’t make a good story if everybody just died), but that story stuck with me.

Yesterday we had a pretty decent snowstorm–with howling winds and low visibility. We had to go to a neighborhood meeting across the street, and I genuinely wanted to string a rope from our house to theirs. The street was a problem of course, what with traffic, pedestrians, and all, so I had to venture out sans rope. Ah, the exhileration of it! The thinking about how I would never go to sleep under a snowdrift–I would keep moving no matter what until they found me the next day.

So tomorrow I am off to Brazil for 10 days–away from the wind chills of minus 10 and into the warm summer of Joao Pessoa’s high 80’s. It will be grand–but I wonder if there are sharks in the ocean!?


4 responses to “My “Drama in Real Life” Addiction

  1. You may not believe this, but I used to do the exact same thing! Even though my grandparents’ house had plenty of toys to play with, I was always a reader and would read whatever was laying around, including the current Reader’s Digests that were out on the coffee table. Once I was snooping around in the storage room and found stacks and stacks of old Reader’s Digests. I methodically went through each one and read all the jokes, the “Drama in Real Life” stories (which I LOVED) and of course do the Word Power quizzes. I even brought a box of them home which then lived in my parents’ basement for a few years after I had read them all.

  2. Each time I was pregnant, if we ever went to Derek’s family’s house, I would inevitably find myself cranky and seeking refuge, so I’d retire to the front room, where nobody went, but where there was always a stack of magazines. For lack of anything better to read in the whole house (yes, I know I’m a brat), I would pick up the Reader’s Digest and read it cover to cover, focusing mainly on the Drama and the jokes. As a result, Derek’s mom now gets us a git subscription! I think that’s hilarious. It’s not the same as the gift subscriptions that Grandma sent my family while I was growing up: Scientific American and Smithsonian. But the truth is, Derek and I both read it when it comes.

    Also, why, why WHY do you get to go to Brasil again?! I’m so jealous. We’re miserably cold, and the front door we ordered came yesterday, only it was the wrong door, so they sent it back and we get to wait another 6 weeks. I can feel the warmth getting sucked out that black hole.

    and one last tiny thing, can you use ‘spartanly’ in scrabble?

  3. I’m really sorry about the git subscription thing. Gift. It sure makes me sound like a much more terrible person than I actually am.

  4. Good eye, Sarah! “spartanly” is definitely not a good word in Scrabble–not on the “TWL.” I guess I just made it up. She lived a spartan life. Kind of like Mike! We are going to Brazil for Matt Dixon’s wedding. I know it’s not fair. It is currently 88 degrees there. And we will be on the beach. Google Tropical Tambau if you want to make yourself sick with jealousy!

    Paul’s mom always gave us “Better Homes and Gardens.” I guess she hoped I’d make my home and garden better? I now like to read “Reader’s Digest” in Portuguese–the Brazilian version. I’m back to not understanding about half the jokes!

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