Getting To Know You (Getting To Know All About You)
WHN for the High Riders/The Homecoming
by Vicki L. Nelson
Do you have a birthmark and if you do, where is it located?
After all the excitement of the past several months, the family of Murdoch Lancer were taking on an even tougher task: learning how to become a family.
Every night after dinner, the Lancer men and Teresa O'Brien would gather in the Great Room where Teresa would ask the latest 'getting to know each other' question.
So far the questions had been fairly innocuous: favorite color, food, book, etc.
However, this evening, Teresa had taken her question to a different level.
Murdoch had nearly choked on his imported scotch whiskey.
Teresa, I hardly think that's an appropriate topic of discussion!
Oh, Murdoch, she scoffed. No one has to share if it makes them uncomfortable. I'll start; I have a birthmark....
In the small of your back that looks a bit like a crooked little heart, finished her guardian.
Teresa gasped and blushed prettily, much to the amusement of her two older brothers.
How did...how did...? she gasped.
How did I know? My dear, when you were a toddler, you developed an aversion to wearing clothes and would run around naked until one of us adults could catch you and wrestle you into something.
Teresa blushed an even deeper shade and wondered if she had been wise to bring up this delicate subject.
Johnny laughed out loud but Scott, ever the gentleman, hid a smile behind his hand.
Johnny took pity on his little sister and volunteered to go next.
Okay, I have a birthmark....
Behind your left knee that looks somewhat like a lopsided star, finished Murdoch.
Johnny simply gaped at his father and Murdoch chuckled.
Don't look so surprised. I changed your diapers a time or two when you were a baby.
Now it was Teresa's turn to giggle and Scott laughed out loud at the look on his little brother's face.
Johnny frowned at his elder brother.
Think it's funny, huh, Scott? Well, why don't you share with us...do ya have a birthmark or don't ya?
Now it was Scott's turn to look chagrined.
Pass, he said, holding up his right hand.
He thought he was safe.
His father couldn't possibly know about his birthmark.
Murdoch had never laid eyes on Scott until he came to Lancer at his father's beck and call, at least that's what Scott had been led to believe, growing up.
Murdoch looked at his elder son thoughtfully.
All right, I'll share. I have a birthmark on my right shoulder blade that looks a bit like a crescent moon.
Johnny began to goad his brother on.
Come on, Boston...don't be shy...we've all shared, so do ya have a birthmark or don't ya? No more stalling!
Oh, he doesn't have to answer the question if he doesn't want to, sighed Teresa, looking at Scott with disappointment in her big brown eyes.
Well, I guess if Scott's too chicken to share... scoffed Johnny.
John, that's enough. If Scott doesn't want to discuss the matter with us, he doesn't have to, chided Murdoch.
Scott closed his eyes in resignation.
He was between a rock and a hard place.
If he didn't play along, he'd look like the family outsider the Boston blue blood who was above this sort of thing.
However, if he did play along, he was bound to be humiliated.
Looking at Teresa, he saw bright-eyed expectation.
Looking at Johnny, he saw cool disapproval disappointment that his big brother was so reticent about information that the rest of them had willingly shared.
Looking at his father, he saw a slight smile of understanding and he knew Murdoch would not judge him whether he decided to share with the family or not.
Scott rolled his eyes to the ceiling and silently berated himself.
For goodness sake, he'd enlisted in the Union Army at the tender age of seventeen and had been made a Lieutenant.
He'd served under General Phil Sheridan and spent a year in a Confederate prisoner of war camp, finally being released when the Lee surrendered to Grant at Appomattox Courthouse.
He'd dropped everything, left behind a life of luxury and all he'd ever known, to travel from one coast to the other.
California could have been a foreign country for as unfamiliar as everything had been to Scott.
Yet, he couldn't talk about his birthmark with his family?
Scott shrugged his shoulders.
All right, but I never want to talk about it ever again and I don't want you to, either....! I, I have a birthmark...uh, well...um...on my...
Scott blushed even rosier than Teresa had and mentally kicked himself.
He prided himself on his boundless vocabulary and here he was stuttering and stammering like a tongue-tied schoolboy!
He looked around at a sea of expectant faces and forced himself to continue.
Uh, I...ahem...I have...a...oh, shaped like a....on my....oh, DAMN IT!
A look of understanding dawned on his father's face.
You have a strawberry butterfly-shaped birthmark on your bottom, the lower right side?
Now it was Teresa's turn to hide a smile behind her hand while Johnny hooted with laughter and fell out of his chair.
Scott spewed a mouthful of brandy down his shirtfront and blushed to the roots of his hair.
How...how could you know that?
Murdoch blinked and gazed over at his firstborn.
Oh, well. It was a guess on my part by your reaction. You see Son, your mother had an identical birthmark in the same exact spot.
Scott stared at his father, open-mouthed. He had honestly thought he would be the exception to the rule when it came to Murdoch's knowledge of his childrens' birthmarks.
Though he was a bit shocked to hear about his mother's birthmark, he was also secretly pleased that he shared something with the mother he never knew.
Murdoch glared at Johnny who was still rolling on the floor, hooting with laughter.
All right, I think we've learned about all we need to know about each other for one night, he remarked.
Teresa, I know I don't have to worry about you, but John, never mention your brother's birthmark again-or tease him about it!
Johnny stopped laughing and sat up, the picture of innocence.
Would I do that?
YES!! chorused his family.
Johnny looked a bit put out.
Can't I even refer to him as the 'Boston Butterfly' once in a while, in private?
NO! came the resounding replies.
Teresa shook her head at Johnny, and then looked at the clock.
Well, we've learned a lot about each other tonight, but it's late so I'll say good-night.
She crossed over to Murdoch and kissed him on the cheek.
Good night, darling. I hope tomorrow's question will be a bit less...personal?
Teresa giggled and agreed to stick to a safer subject at tomorrow evening's question-and-answer period.
Walking over to Scott, she bent down, whispered something in his ear then kissed him on the cheek, as well.
Good night, Scott. Thank you for being such a good sport tonight.
Scott, who couldn't begrudge his little sister anything, gave her a beaming smile.
Sweet dreams, Teresa.
Johnny sat up, tipping his cheek towards her for his own good-night kiss, which was not forthcoming.
He glanced up at her in confusion and she stuck her tongue out at him.
Good night, John, she sniffed. Don't you dare tease poor Scott or I'll tell Maria to come after you with her wooden spoon...and she will, you know!
Murdoch chuckled and Scott laughed out loud as Johnny pouted.
The Grandfather Clock chimed the hour as Murdoch reminded his sons that morning comes early on a working ranch.
Scott rose from his chair and extended a helping hand to his little brother.
Good night, Sir, he said to his father.
Night, Murdoch, bade Johnny.
Good night, boys, replied Murdoch, as Johnny trailed after Scott, snickering all the way.
Stopping at the bottom of the stairs, Scott quickly turned and faced down his brother.
You know, little brother, I could ask our father about you when you were a little lad still living here at Lancer...I'm sure he'd have plenty of embarrassing stories he'd love to share with all of us of an evening!
Johnny stared at his big brother with consternation.
Uh no....that's okay....I won't mention it again...g'night, Scott.
Scott turned to face the stairs so that Johnny couldn't see the smirk on his face.
Good night, little brother. Sweet dreams! You'll always be a 'star' to me!
Credit goes to Ronnie Fish for graciously letting me borrow Scott's birthmark for my little story.
'Getting to Know You', The King And I, written by Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein, 1951