The Coast News Group
Doorman Diaries

This family story is a classic every time

There’s an incident in my family that has since become legend.
It involves my younger brother Chris, my Mom and myself. Words cannot describe how many times we’ve recounted this tale of misery and woe to all of Chris’ girlfriends and obviously his wife. I can’t wait to tell his son, Zach. Anyway, let’s begin…
It was a normal searing summer afternoon in the valley. My poor beleaguered mom was forced to drag her two incessantly combative chimps to the grocery store. How that brave woman didn’t sell us both into child labor I’ll never know.
Now my brother was just a young lad at this point and was still having problems with the whole not-peeing-in-your-pants thing. He would sleep so soundly that he’d snooze right through nature’s call and wind up hosing himself down until he woke up. Thank Jeebus we didn’t share a bed growing up — or a room for that matter.
So my parents decided to use a bit of gadgetry to help little “Pissy Chrissy” to remember to wake up when he had to go. It was called the Palco Buzzer. Essentially what this device did, when properly affixed to the proper area of the PJ’s, was to make a little buzzing sound when it detected moisture.
So the child would hear this sound, wake up, and use the restroom. Voila! Bed-wetting problem solved by early ‘80s technology. And so our story continues…
Driving to the supermarket, I thought I heard a very faint sound coming from the back seat. I looked back and my brother was staring out the window, oblivious to the rubber band I was about to snap in his face. After his crying and my wilting pleas of innocence, we arrived at the grocery store alive and well except for the angry red welt on Chris’s cheek.
Right around the fresh fruit aisle, I start to hear the sound again. Except this time my brother is staring me straight in the eyes. I asked him what he was doing, but he just said nothing and hurried his gate to catch up to my mom.
I was beginning to sense something odd was afoot.
About this time I ran into a friend who was on
my Pop Warner football team.
Teddy and I were goofing off in Von’s while our Mom’s chatted about the essentials: gossip, team mom duties, and Bunco parties.
Then out of nowhere a very familiar noise caught my attention. It was the sound I’d heard in the car and again around the fruit aisle. But louder. Much louder. We all turned around and my brother had a half-cocked crazy grin on his face.
Then a cacophony of staccato buzzing sounds were emanating from my brother’s shorts, and I’m thinking, “What did this kid eat…or steal?”
Apparently he’d worn the Palco device during the day, in public no less, and had been giving my Mom and I subtle signs all day that he had to go. So instead, he thought it was hilarious that he was beginning to sound like a human game of “Operation”.
With a few hurried goodbyes, my Mom grabbed my buzzing brother and raced us out of the supermarket. When we finally got to the car, none of us could breathe because we were laughing so hard. Even my brother, with a fiery red welt still prominent on his face, couldn’t keep from giggling about this potentially therapy-inducing public potty incident.
Needless to say, after that debacle, my Mom retired the good ol’ Palco Buzzer.
That story still gets brought up at most family functions, or when someone new is around. And it never gets old.
When I told my brother I was going to write this column, he just laughed and told me to send him a copy. My family’s always been pretty good about those situations.
A good sense of humor can sometimes get you to laugh at life’s most traumatic moments. But when family’s involved, if you can’t laugh at yourself, there’s always someone there who’ll do it for you.