July 07, 2010 W I F Y A L —those were the big bold bronze-looking letters over the doorway of my friend's kitchen.
"So...what does WIF YAL mean?" I asked her, using my best drawl and stretching out the last syllable to sound like a Southun version of 'you all.' "I take it they're a conversation starter."
We weren't the only two in the room. Several other women obviously had been wondering—just hadn't been brazen enough to ask. We all waited.
With a warm chuckle, she dug into the explanation. "It's like this. I bought the letters to say
F A M I L Y, but the boys were horsin' around, and..."
I could just about picture the joviality of the scene! Two teenage boys—both at least six feet tall by now—probably with Dad egging them on—rendering a tacky re-doing of Mom's carefully planned decorating scheme. At first I pictured one of them holding the other one up there to be able to reach, and then I realized that wouldn't have been necessary. When you're used to dunking, you don't need a step stool or your brother's shoulders to reach above the doorway.
The more I thought about it, the more I realized the new and enhanced motto matched the turf. The girls were off to college, or they might have overruled. Or not. But by leaving the letters the way they were, I think that Mom was giving a quiet endorsement, or permission, or whatever, to the boys' quest to create an ambience which said, "This house looks good. Thanks to Mom. But there's no rule against us wrestling on the living room floor with Dad (though she may route that kind of activity to the basement), or having our buddies drop by unannounced to shoot a few hoops or go for a swim or a romp with the dog. And while they're here, maybe they'll ask, 'So, what in the world does W I F Y A L mean?' And that's a pretty good conversation starter."
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Willene Tanis is a longtime resident of the Imlay City area and an active volunteer in the community. Many readers find her 'Perspectives' column to universal and uplifting.