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The Adventures of Big Nam: The Floating Dentures

Updated on September 11, 2022

Auntie M, Grams, and Mrs. Nam

Grams and the girls crowded around the table telling stories to the little ones.
Grams and the girls crowded around the table telling stories to the little ones. | Source

It began with the idea of fishing the south side...

Twilight was just beginning. The camper's in Big Nam's camp were gathering around the campfire to sip on Uncle Chuck's home make brew while anxiously awaiting to hear Great Gram's version of Big Nam and her floating dentures.

Big Nam grunted about it not being a big deal, but the others disagreed in a loud protest.

“Tell us, Grams, tell us.” the S'mored sticky children begged while grabbing spots of dirt to sit at her feet.

“I gotta here this...” Uncle Chuck smarted off to himself as he setting his old bones into his favorite camping chair.

Auntie M. covered Great Grams's shoulders with one of her home crochet shawls to keep off the night chills. Other aunts, uncles, and cousins also gathered settled into spots to hear the telling. This was exciting news for them that had never heard the story. A few of the young heads were bopped by their parents for fighting for a spot to sit, as Grams cleared her scratchy throat.

“Let's see,” Grams's eighty-five year old voice, crackled through the air. “We were just winding up our long trip to see family. This was our last leg of the trip before going home. Rooster, just settle those shorts of yours before I send you to bed. Now, where was I?...ah, yes. We were camped in the same spot we are now. Big Nam quit looking like you swallowed a crow. Chuck, I could use a shot of that purple stuff.”

Uncle Chuck poured Grams a shot into her coffee cup. Her wrinkly lips smacked with delight, leaving a purple line where the liquid met her lips. The children, ages five to ten, put their heads together to giggle at Grams new mustache.

“Something funny?” She asked handing off the cup and wiping her lips with a handkerchief that had been hid in her pocket.

“No, Grams!” the children hollered in unison, little bodies squiggled to a stop, their tiny heads alert.

Grams let out a small burp, which set the children off again, till their parents scolded them for being rude. They said their apologies and settled down again.

“Back to the story,” Grams began again.

More coffee and great eats...

Uncle Chuck comes out of his house on wheels for a coffee refill.
Uncle Chuck comes out of his house on wheels for a coffee refill. | Source

Jealous and excited...

“It was early one morning when shouts of 'Fish on', could be heard in the distance. Uncle Chuck, Wild Bill, and Big Nam sat here watching the action from the spots they are now. The noise was coming from the south side of the river. Dozens of men and women were fishing there. You could see the fishermen reeling up and scattering up the bank, as one guy and his crew fought their fish downriver. Before they could land their fish a quarter mile away, another group had snagged one and was off, heading down shore.

The first group pulled in their monster, so big it could be seen from here. It ran from the man's shoulder down to the ground. It's tip of its tall dragging behind them. They mounted the fish on a stick thru its gills. Just as they were done, the second group met up with them. The first group helped to haul in the second fish. The two groups then headed back upriver shouting, cheering and slapping each other on the back.”

Grams paused for a breather and another shot. The children began to lay down in their spots. The knowing adults listening with smiled and grinned at each other, knowning what's next. Those that had never heard the story leaned closer in, not wanting to miss a bit.

Grams took a deep breath and began again, “Big Nam glanced back upriver to the action, pointed, and shouted to the other boys, 'They have hooked three more fish. We need to get over there.' And off they went, shoving gear into the Jeep. Big Nam left a scribbled note to the Mrs. before they took off like cowboys after their herd.

Now, in all of the excitement, they forgot to leave a few essentials here for us women. So, when we got up, we were met with a surprise. Here was the game warden to check for our licenses.

Mrs. Nam calmly explained that Big Nam and his crew had headed across river with their paperwork. She told the warden what Nam looked like, with his six foot tall frame and 320 of bulk. She said you couldn't miss him because he was the loudest in the group.”

The proper way to fish...

Wild Bill shows the "toe-heads" the proper way to fish.
Wild Bill shows the "toe-heads" the proper way to fish. | Source

It was just a little water...

At the mention of this, Big Nam looked like a beet, face all red from embarrassment, denying the claims. He squirmed in his chair as if he was facing the principle of school. In a way he was, because Grams could be a bit intimidating, despite her stature.

“That there warden was nice as could be and said he check it out, and bring us back our stuff. So, we fed the kids and threw in our poles to catch a few cats. It was nice to sit back, soaking up the sun after that night's rain. We watch the warden head for the boat in search of Big Nam in the midst of the chaos and fishers.”

Uncle Chuck couldn't hold himself back any longer, “That was the most miserable day in my life!”

He grunted digging himself into a more comfortable position in his chair.

“We headed over there and had to cross a small creek, before we could get to our prime spot. Dang fools didn't tell us it was flooded.”, Uncle Chuck knotted his head in Big Nam direction.

“Now you wait here,” Big Nam announced in protest. He tried to scoot his big bulk up into a straighter position. “How was I suppose to know the creek was flooded? It's not my fault we got stuck.”

“Who was driving?” Uncle Chuck cast back.

“Look here,” Big Nam began to growl, “That creek takes a turn in the middle. I tried to follow the trail. If those tires hadn't of slipped off, we wouldn't have been stuck.”

“So it is your fault.” Uncle Chuck cantered.

“BOYS!” Grams's crackling voice cut through the cool air. She shook her cane in the air at them. “You are scaring the children. Now sit back and shut up. Big Nam can tell us what happened.”

The two grown men looked back at Grams in surprise, mouths wide open, not sure what to say.

“You can shut your flaps too.” Grams scolded while snuggling deeper in her shawl.

Big Nam cleared his throat to speak. Uncle Chuck sat back in his chair, arms crossed on his chest, glaring at Big Nam like it was his fault they were in trouble. Wild Bill chuckled in his chair at the scene, then took a shot of the home brew. The children's eyes were wide in wonder. It wasn't often they heard the adults get yelled at. To them it was nice for a change.

Rooster—the sixteen year old, smart-mouthed one, of the teen group--was about to fire off a comment, but the look he received from Grams made him sit back. He picked up a nearby stick and pretended he was picking the bark off it.


Big Nam claims, "It doesn't get any fresher than this!"
Big Nam claims, "It doesn't get any fresher than this!" | Source

Big Nam began telling his side, “Well, Uncle Chuck, Wild Bill, and I came to the creek. In order to get to the south side, you have to cross the creek. On a normal day, it is only a couple of feet deep. The night before it had rained, so we didn't know how much higher the creek had rose till we started to cross it. When the creek is low, you could see the trail everyone follows. It is shaped like a half moon. We use landmarks to know about when to turn. As it happens, we were about half way, when the rocks from the current came out from under the tires. I ended up getting off the trail into deeper water. That is when Old Whitey got stuck. We tried to rock Old Whitey back and forth, but no luck. She didn't want to budge. So, we bailed out.

As soon as we opened the doors, water came pouring in. I tried to scramble and grab the stuff floating away. Uncle Chuck headed for shore cursing under his breath. Wild Bill helped me to gather the gear to take with us. We decided we would go fish, then come back for Whitey.”

“I knew I should have stayed in bed.” Uncle Chuck broke in. “Here I was walking the shore, trying to figure out how we were going to get out.”

“You were walking the shore mumbling to yourself...'I should have stayed in bed. I should have stayed in camp. If I was in camp, I wouldn't be cold and wet right now.'” Big Nam shot back.

Wild Bill finally broke into the argument with a comment of his own. “I have to admit, I thought it was hilarious when I could hear you mumbling as the tin cup went by. I never seen you move so fast in my life.”

A wicked gleam shone in Wild Bill's eyes as he leaned forward on his diamond willow cane.

“What was I suppose to do? Let Mom's teeth float away? She'd beat me with that cane of hers.”

Grams chuckled from her seat listening to the banter. The children, most of whom were still awake, jaws dropped in awe, listening to every word the grown men said. This was new to some of them. For the adults sitting around, it was no big deal. This was normal to listen to adults sound like children when it came to Grams.

Grams finally had enough of their antics, “Boys, I'll take over now.”

She took a long look over the intoxicated faces of the children, patiently waiting for the climax.

“Here was your Uncle Chuck, griping as usual, how he should have stayed in bed in camp, when a tin cup went by. He threw up is arms and said 'Oh great, there goes Mom's teeth, now I better get a move on.' Into the river he went again to get my teeth. I was quite surprise to find out that he was able to catch them in the cold, quick current. That was about the time the game warden showed up. He had a site before him. One drown jeep, two men gathering fishing gear, and one crazy man mumbling to himself while chasing teeth down the river.” Grams erupted into a cackling laugh that was contagious.

“That poor warden. I could only imagine what went through his head. Well, he helped the men out then headed back to our camp to fill us in. He took one look at Mrs. Nam and said, 'Well ma’am, I found Big Nam and his crew, but I have some bad news for you. It seems your license has drowned in the river.' He told us the story that was told to him. By the time Big Nam and the others were back, we were roaring with laughter. It only got worst each time they re-told the story.”

Dearest Auntie M

Auntie M sitting quietly listening to Grams tell her story.
Auntie M sitting quietly listening to Grams tell her story. | Source

What a magical night...

Grams sat back in her chair content and sleepy.

“Grams, what about the teeth?” one sleepy-eyed five year old asked still amazed.

“What do you mean?” Grams asked.

“How did the teeth get there in the first place?”

“Well,” Grams held her arms out to the little guy, inviting him to sit on her lap. “I hate to wear my teeth, but everyone is always after me to take them wherever I go. So I stuck my teeth in a tin coffee cup and set it in the console of the jeep. I had forgot about them. When Big Nam and Wild Bill opened the front doors of the jeep, water came rushing in and swept away the cup. There they were floating like a boat downriver.”

“Wow!” the little boy exclaimed in a whisper. Shock and awe were written on his tiny face.

He leaned closer to Grams and quietly whispered in her ear, “Poor Uncle Chuck, no wonder why he is so crazy. That cold river must have froze his brain.”

There was an uproar of laughs from those sitting close by. Grams gave the little man a huge hug and kiss, then sat him back down.

Uncle Chuck, fit to be tied, glared at the crowd before muttering about needing to get to bed. Auntie M gently smiled at him, blew everyone a kiss goodnight, and followed Uncle Chuck to bed. Wild Bill and Big Nam narrated the story a bit more to those that were willing to listen, while the parents of young children shuffled them off to their bags.

It had been another magical night where stories were told and legends made.


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