8. Physical Weirdness

In our house the focal point of every new topic, every new discussion, and ultimately every new clever story was at the dinner table.  The evening meal was when every member of the family was present at the same time.  All of the stories that you’ve read so far came from that one place.  Every story had a point that was used to teach us (the children) something about ourselves or about life.  Sometimes they were funny, sometimes not, but you never walked away from the dinner table without something more than a full belly.  But verbal stories weren’t the only trick Dad had to offer.  There were other things as well.

At one dinner Dad turned to me and asked me if I could close one eyelid without moving the other one, you know like a wink but without the squint.  “What?”  Here, let me show you and he proceeded to close his left eyelid without any movement at all on the rest of his face.  “Again, what?”  So I tried it.  Hey, this was hard to do!  Both Barbara and Janis tried it and failed as well.  But my mother didn’t think such parlor tricks were very lady like.  I kept trying this little trick and finally I got it to work.  Then he asked if I could do it with the other eye.  “Ugh, no!”  After a time, I could close either eyelid without any other movement on my face.  I was so proud.

Some time went by and then at another dinner Dad turned to me and asked if I could “wiggle my nose.”  “What?”  Here, let me show you and he proceeded to flair out his nostrils as though he was breathing hard and trying to gasp for air.  He could do it rapidly or slowly or any way he chose.  “Oh no, not again.”  Again, my mother was not amused that my sisters would actually try this.  But I did, over and over until I could do this little trick at will.  I was so proud.  When I was ready to demonstrate my new prowess (at the dinner table of course) Dad congratulated me and asked if I could wiggle my nose while I had my right eyelid closed.  “Ugh.

Again, some time went by before another dinner when Dad turned to me and asked if I could “wiggle my ears.”  “What?”  Here, let me (oh please don’t) show you and he proceeded to move his ears front to back as fast as he wanted.  My mother immediately shot a dirty look at my sisters (don’t even think about it!).  And again with way more effort than this particular parlor trick deserved, I could finally do it.  When I was ready for the demonstration I first closed my right eyelid and then wiggled my ears.  He just smiled. I was beyond proud at this point.

Just when we all thought we had run out of facial appendages that needed to be moved Dad turned to me and asked if I could (oh my, and I started to giggle) move my fingers like this, and he demonstrated.  First he moved both hands end over end in a forward circle motion, like you would demonstrate a tire rolling down the street.  Then he moved both hands end over end in a backward circle motion, like you would demonstrate a tire rolling toward you.  I could do both of those.  (My mother was still glaring at my sisters)  Then he moved his right hand in a forward circle and his left hand in a backward circle.  “Whoa, what?”  Well, this really wasn’t within my DNA (see The Piano) to do but he kept after me about it and finally he showed me a little trick so that I could do it.

OK, so now I’m not even 10 years old and I can wiggle my nose and wiggle my ears all with one eyelid closed and moved my hands in opposite directions all at the same time.  I can remember trying to teach both of you these little tricks.  Neither one of you had much interest in them and to me that was fine.  But here is the difference between my Dad and I and both of you.  To my father every discussion was a contest.  It was an opportunity to discover who was the dominant party, who had the most weaknesses, who was the leader and who was the follower.  He had unlimited stamina and patience and there was no defeat in him.

Like my father, I used the dinner table as a forum for discussion and learning.  I wanted you both to be able to think about what you were learning in school and to question everything.  At our dinner table, there was no contest.  There were offers of interesting things to learn and different ways of looking at things; some you accepted, some you didn’t. My objective was not a show of power or superiority, just the offer of something new and perhaps of some value.

© J T Weaver

About J T Weaver

The author of "Uphill Both Ways," a thought provoking series of stories about life, family, and growing up.
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78 Responses to 8. Physical Weirdness

  1. Tonight we’re tabling dinner for Monday Night Football (Baltimore Ravens vs New Oleans Saints). This piece shouts the song (my daughter says is) from Annie Get Your Gun….”Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better!” 🙂 I am also re-minded of a thing teachers call Brain Gym. That’s all. Grin.

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  2. The Overlord Bear says:

    My parents may not be as weird as your father, but they can be funny at times, too. I also learned valuable life lessons from them, and I know that they really care for me. They’re awesome, you know, JT.

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  3. I so enjoyed this and it brought back great memories. My mother disapproving as my father taught us to isolate and expand our diaphragms and separate our stomach muscles into two columns – I haven’t thought about this and other tricks for years. Every meal ended up with dictionaries or other reference books on the table (again to my mother’s irritation).

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  4. So hilarious ! liked it a lot 😀

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  5. This is awesome. I just purchased your book the other day and I’m really enjoying it. When I have finished it, I’ll leave an Amazon review. It’s taking me a little time because of some heavy reading required for work right now, but I keep it with me and look forward to finishing! Debra

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  6. valentina says:

    You and your siblings were fortunate! What an awesome dad! 😉

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  7. ahamin says:

    I gain weight in the holidays because of the dinner table talks. Always entertaining, always leaves you wanting more.

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  8. Wonderful post! I can just see the next generation talking about all of this and your grandchildren attempting to accomplish what you did and their parents could not. The competition will remain in some form or another. I so enjoy your posts, thank you for continuing to write. DAF

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  9. You tell an interesting story, thanks.

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  10. tchistorygal says:

    There must have been something cultural in all that. Sometimes, I feel like I have no culture, but as you share your stories, I am reminded of things so similar in my life that I see clearly the little things that make up the culture. I learned about BTUs at the dinner table, and other engineering vocabulary that I quickly forgot. My grandfather was the one who tried to teach me to wiggle things and whistle through my hands. My favorite thing was that he could wiggle his bicep. I thought he was the strongest, coolest man on earth. I never learned to move any facial parts, sorry to say. 🙂

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  11. as I read your post I found myself trying these parlor tricks. I expected there to be a list of percentages at the end of the blog, but was relieved when they weren’t there so I didn’t need to compare myself to others. i like the easy style of your blog. Keep it up!

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  12. tomac12 says:

    My grandfather was just like that, and when I had kids dinner was the same place for us. I really enjoyed reading that story and it made me laugh, and remember some happy times. Today’s kids don’t understand the simplicity and warmth our generation shared with each other. Cell phones, I pads, and computers take the personal touch out of our lives. I wish we could get them to feel what we felt. And what you shared was as close to getting there as I know how. Thanks for that story.
    Tomac

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    • J T Weaver says:

      You are quite welcome and thanks for reading. Here’s my take: No generation’s kids ever feel what their parents felt. It’s the nature of things. I think the best I/we can do is explain it as best we can and hope they’ve learned enough from us to carry us all into the future. And there are a lot of things in my story that I hope they never feel. Time will tell though.

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      • tomac12 says:

        I guess your, and I really thought of it like that. I will keep reading future blogs. Very interesting and amusing. Thanks, have a good day.
        Tomac

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  13. I was trying your father’s tricks as I read. Yes My father had a strange sense of humor too. LOL! I can still say “She sells sea shells down by the sea shore” faster than he did. And, I never forgot Peter Pepper. God Bless! Loved your story!

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  14. a.h.richards says:

    Lovely, funny story. What an innocent time we seemed to once know. I hope we really did. Sometimes it seems centuries past. And then your story is there and it brings it all back. Thank you.
    I can do the eye thing and sort of flare my nostrils – but usually not consciously. I can sometimes pat my head and circle my belly too. Oh, that’s the stuff of life!
    Thanks for the story.

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  15. pinklightsabre says:

    Dig the Dylan quote on your headliner-thing…had me some of that last Friday! Thanks for stopping by my blog, sir. – Bill

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  16. eebrinker says:

    🙂 you have a very-good story telling voice. we would tape our fingers together until we could do the “spock-salute” without taping them.

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    • J T Weaver says:

      Thank you very much. I forgot about that one. For some reason I could do the ‘live long and prosper’ naturally without any trouble. Not like the other ones that took way too much work. I’m glad you like the stories.

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  17. My sister-in-law can wiggle her nose. She finds it a great way to get the attention of the children in her class! I’ve tried with no success. Great fun story!

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  18. toad (chris jensen) says:

    I would like to thank you for following tot123itsme, just finished reading Physical Weirdness, by the impression for the first read we came from much different backgrounds, however I could be wrong it wouldn’t be the first. I did enjoy the story of winking family at the table…

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  19. Julie says:

    Fun blog this is… and thank you for following mine.

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  20. nina luz says:

    Oh, you make me laugh!
    I had forgotten all about these – I tried them all again as I read along, but alas! I can no longer move bits of my face at will… Did he ever ask you for complicated finger movement patterns in continuous movement (don’t know how else to describe it!)?
    Unlike your experience, my parents did not appreciate this sort of thing at meals time… My Nan and Auntie and Great Uncle did, though, and the years I lived with them, and then all school holidays thereafter, were… the days of a little bird freed from a cage!
    (And have you ever tried to move the tip of your nose up and down, like a rabbit…? For years and years, that was my foolproof baby-pacifier babysitting trick…)

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  21. Good story. Family dinner (which we called “supper”) together at my house growing up was enjoyable also. Thanks for looking at my blog and following it.
    Richest blessings,
    Tricia

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  22. beverley says:

    Yes i remember always having dinner together as a family and the crazy stuff my dad would do. This made me smile and brought back some happy memories. Thanks for visiting my blog and following me.

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  23. the simple life
    you cant buy that kind of magic:)

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  24. dfolstad58 says:

    Thanks for checking into my blog and becoming a subscriber, and I am glad I checked out some of your posts. I can’t tell if this is true or not but it made me smile. I think some of us have the Tall Tale DNA and that would include you. Love to hear who has inspired you.

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    • J T Weaver says:

      Everything that I write is non-fiction as near as I know it anyway. Several of these stories (from when I was under 5) have been handed down for decades and so I am merely documenting the oral history. Other stories are my impressions of an event. This isn’t an historical record or anything, but every story here did happen.

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  25. Ron says:

    I guess you can’t teach new dogs old tricks. Thanks for following my blog.

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  26. icelandpenny says:

    Loved the story and it brought back memories of my own father showing my brother & me how he could (a) wiggle his ears and (b) raise just one eyebrow. What is it about dads and physical tricks? We both practised hard… (Also, thanks for choosing to follow my blog!)

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  27. Your Dad and mine would have gotten along just fine, except mine majored in puns and riddles. Always a great time at the dinner table.

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  28. Many Cha Cha Michelle says:

    My mum always insisted on a communal family dinner and I have similar happy memories of it. Thanks for this great story, it reminds me to institute this tradition soon, when my pair stop throwing their food and learn to use a spoon 🙂

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  29. Sarah says:

    I can close my eye without moving my other one. Kaylee can roll her tongue and Greg can do everything else. There just isn’t one person that can do all of them together.

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  30. John Manno says:

    That you had this relationship with your father says as much about you as it does him. If you had been a different boy, he could have wiggled his ears ’till the cows came home and gotten no reaction from you. This is really a story about you.

    Like

  31. feelingjoy says:

    I enjoyed your story. I too, grew up with family meals although I do not remember many of the conversations. I passed along the tradition of family meals with my family and I remember my husband doing those kinds of things (facial movements) with our son and daughter. We all did the act more than once to see if we could accomplish whatever my husband could do. How about rolling your tongue?
    Thank you for the follow. Blessings to you, Pam

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  32. I do think the dinner table is a place of higher learning (wiggling ears aside, which my father also did!) and it’s difficult but so important to preserve that family gathering time so everyone learns all the values and love that come out of getting together around the meal.

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  33. LadyBlueRose's Thoughts Into Words says:

    I never could do the ears LOLs..
    my grandpa taught me the eyelid …ect….
    Thank you…this was a great story…
    ( my kids would learn either, but my grandkids are! )
    Take Care…
    )0(
    maryrose

    Like

  34. Huffygirl says:

    funny. My husband can wiggle his nose and ears, but I can’t. Somehow I’ve gotten through life without that skill, so far anyway. Great stories, and thanks for the follow.

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  35. sakuraandme says:

    So funny! I think your dad sounded like heaps of fun. 🙂
    Thanks for stopping by my blog. Hugs Paula. Xxx

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  36. dadirri7 says:

    yes, very funny jt … what a clever and amusing man your father was!

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  37. lauriebest says:

    Very funny. Your dinner table sounds like ours…and that is what started the blog that Gill and I write. The family that doesn’t have funny stories and raucous laughter at the table misses a lot! I am totally lacking in co-ordination so won’t be trying any of your ‘parlor tricks’ anytime soon…but I will keep reading your wonderful blogs!

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