Ken Leslie
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Return to Sisyphus

Myth of Sisyphus?


Trying to make my Mother-in-Law happy….  


Of course I had already known Laura, my Mother-in-Law, too well by the summer of 1993 when my parents hosted a huge party to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary.  So I knew better than to try to make her happy.  But my brother, Russell, didn’t, so he walked right into it. 


The party was on the Hudson River Dayliner, a boat that cruised up and down the Hudson, from New York to Albany, outfitted for conventions and parties.  The trip up and down the Hudson was truly lovely, on that wider-than-most rivers, passing through history and nature all the way.  My parents had gone all out, inviting about 150 friends and family.  My mom did most of the cooking, for weeks in advance.  There was a small band playing dance music, and it truly was a great time.  My parents have had a long, life gathering wonderful friends—it was easy to enjoy everyone and everything.


Nevertheless, we knew Laura wouldn’t enjoy much—she never has—least of all a party where everyone else was having a good time.  As she predicted before the boat left the dock that she would become queezy—not enough to barf and get it over with, but plenty to look miserable and talk about it to anyone unfortunate enough to enter her misery zone.  We had begged her to take some Dramamine before setting sail, but she didn’t like the water available to swallow the pills.  My cousin Jeanne offered these new wave wrist bands that were designed to target pressure points to override the inner ear’s message of nausea.  But that too Laura refused.


So she sat by the railing, looking green, surrounded by everyone else—the only one on board not gleaming with the pleasure of celebration and the good life.  Knowing better, her husband and me and my wife kept our distance.  That’s when my brother, Russel, stepped in—ever even more cheerful than me, he gave it a try.  “You know,” he said to Laura, “I’ve heard that it’s better if you sit in the center of the ship—away from the railing where the shore makes it obvious that you’re on a rocking boat.  In the center, facing a wall, it’s easier for your body to ignore the motion.  You’ll feel better in no time!”


Laura turned to him with irritation, and said, “What, and miss the view?”