There Once Was a Man from Boston

They are having family home evening, and the young man is sitting on the couch with Stephen and Ruthanne. They have moved past the lesson, and their parents are telling stories of their early courtship.

“So your dad invited me over to dinner to meet his parents for the first time,” says the young man’s mom, “and I was intimidated.”

“Why?” says the young man.

“Well, my dad had an eighth grade education. My mother didn’t get a degree until later in life, so she didn’t have it yet. When she worked, she drove a bus, and my dad was a coal packer and trucker.”

“Your mom was plenty smart,” says Dad. “I wasn’t worried about it.”

“Your Grandpa Laws was a professor. He had a PhD. Granny was a schoolteacher with an advanced education.”

“But your grandfather was as down to earth as could be,” says Dad. “He grew up in Blanding among very poor people. He lived through the Depression. He worked on railroads with immigrants and all kinds of colorful people. And your Granny grew up on a farm and did hard farm labor her whole life until she became a teacher.”

“I didn’t really know any of that, and I was just intimidated,” says Mom. “But then, partway through the dinner, your Grandpa recites this poem. I can’t even remember what brought it up. But he had this little poem.”

Dad laughs. “To understand the poem, you have to know that an Austin was a type of car around in the seventies. They were really small. Crummy cars actually.”

“Right,” says Mom. “How did the poem go?”

“‘There once was a man from Boston, who owned a little white Austin. There was room for his ass and a gallon of gas, but not for his balls, so he lost ’em.'” Dad laughs and claps his hands.

“Yeah, that’s it,” says Mom.

“Grandpa said that over dinner?” says Stephen.

“Yep,” says Mom. “And when he did, all my worries went away. I think your Grandpa knew, somehow, how nervous I was, and that broke all the tension.”

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