By Bobbie Glasheen

Dr. Simon annoyed the daylights out of me. He always had. Or at least since the time he remarked in one of our family counseling sessions, “Mrs. Glasheen, are you aware you laugh at inappropriate times?”

Those present were Mrs. Glasheen (she is I), Mr. Glasheen (he is him), and our three hulking sons, ages 12, 14 and 17. Well, of course I laughed inappropriately. Better to laugh than to commit mayhem unto them all. They were really getting up my nose. I was the only woman. Reason enough to wring someone’s neck.

Points of discussion that evening, when I was reprimanded by Dr. Simon, were the three intractables who were growing marijuana next to the tomato plants, getting arrested, cleaning their ears with my turkey baster and leaving the seat up.

I only wanted reverence, equal pay and obedience. In other words, I wanted to be pope. But I was not old enough to be pope.

They all seemed to feel that I was the one who needed adjustment. Tony Soprano’s therapist, Dr. Malfi, told Tony, “It’s always the mother. Always.” Thanks Dr. Malfi. Drs. Malfi and Simon should live together. They deserve each other.

In one respect, this was working out well. After meeting with Dr. Simon for an hour, the five of us went out to dinner. We sat at Pernicano’s, ate with our usual zeal and laughed, perhaps from inordinate feelings of relief. It had never been clear just who the pack leader was in our family. Perhaps this was part of the problem, if there was a problem. We seemed bound by an intimacy and connection that held us together through heartbreak and hormonal chaos. I believe that laughter, inappropriate or not, preserved us in some kind of grace-filled Irish fantasia.

Murray Black, a retired psychiatrist who once lived in Idyllwild, was heard (by me) to say, “There is no such thing as a functional family. Nor is there any such thing as a normal person.” How did he get so darn smart?

Many years later, Mr. and Mrs. Glasheen are old, very old. The sons have grown to middle age.

What do the five of us do when we gather for a weekend here on Cedar Street in Idyllwild? We laugh. At very inappropriate things. To an outsider, there would be nothing the least bit amusing in our reminiscences. We survive on denial and laughter.

Jack Kerouac had it right — at least part of it. Mad to live, mad to laugh, the ones who never yawn but burn like bright candles, they’re the ones for me. And so it was and is, at least last time I looked.