I visited Gary's parents on his behalf Sunday, since he was socked in with his bad back.
Gary's mom took me into the Altar Room (previously Gary's old bedroom) and poured some Holy Water into a small white spray bottle. She whispered, "Here, spray some of this on Gary's back. It's Holy Water and that stuff you spray on cuts and burns -"
"Bactine?" I asked.
"Yes. Spray it on his back and rub it in a little. We'll be praying for him."
So an hour later I walked back in to my home, was relieved to find Gary still alive after taking the Vicodin, and I brought in the little spray bottle. Because, Desparate Times Call For God's Bactine. (That's their tagline.)
I shook up the bottle. Because you've gotta mix that shit up. Shake vigorously before using: you don't want all Bactine and no Holy Water.
He stopped me before I could spray it on. "Don't spray that stuff on me. Mom told me about that. It's some liniment she made." So, I lost my chance.
I crept up behind him the next day after he showered. I shook it up again, then, I blasted him in the small of the back.
"AIEEE! GOD! WHAT WAS THAT!"
"Stop screaming, " I laughed, "It was just your mom's liniment."
"Don't spray that on me! I'm going to the doctor today! I don't want anything that might make me feel different."
"Oh, be serious. It's nothing"
"No, it's like it's icy hot."
"You know, it's bad when the Holy Water burns you."
He dourly said, "Yeah. Hilarious. You're hilarious. Wipe off my back." I wiped him off. "Don't just hang that towel back up! We can't use that towel! It'll get in our eyes." I thought about making a joke about the Shroud of Turin but I didn't.
Okay, so that was Sunday. It isn't right to laugh about it without trying it. I'm going to spray it on myself. Right now. I might chug some.
Later: Mental note: Turn the white bottle around and read the label before you spray it on your wrist and then on your tongue. I assumed it was 50 / 50 Bactine and Holy Water, when actually it was 99% Generic Pain Spray ("a Miracle in Every Bottle!") and 10% Holy Water. The generic pain reliever is mainly a) Unholy Water b) Isopropyl Alcohol and c) Propelyene Glycol.
However, it might cure my acid reflux.
Today, Gary slipped and described someone as an "asshole" in front of his parents. He slipped, but recovered so quickly it was one word: "assholesorry."
He is 58, so he was not grounded.
(He might claim to have Tourette's, so Tourette's Gary can join Migraine Man and Seizure Gary in his stable of neurological superheroes.)
When Gary slipped, I noticed no gasping or tutting from his Mom. She has reproved him before for saying "Jeez," since it is taking the first syllable of the Lord's Name in Vain.
We debated why "Jeez" provoked a lecture but "asshole" passes.
I argued, "You didn't say 'God's asshole.' Plus, it's an actual body part."
Gary said, "Asshole ... so it's like twat! That makes sense."
Well, the nephew has sent out his wedding invitations, and they end with the phrase, "No boxed gifts please."
This was a new one for me, and I was as appalled as anyone. Why not, "Just bring cash!" The horror, the horror.
Gary promptly launched his gift protocol, which is, "I will buy you what I want to buy you and how you feel about it is immaterial to me."
He added, "They better have a gift table there, that's all I'm saying."
I pleasantly said, "Gift tables are tacky too. You are supposed to send gifts to the brides mother's house."
"I have never heard of that! We had a gift table at our wedding."
(A gentle cough.) "Well, I know Mom's relatives and friends all came in empty-handed." And probably the in-laws thought my relatives were stiffing us, I don't know. So easy to judge people with different customs.
That point was made this evening when I did a Google search on "No boxed gifts, please."
What popped up as I typed was, "No boxed gifts please PAKISTANI WEDDING".
Come to find out, I'm the tacky one, and not only because I suggested we bring a goat on a leash instead of a box.
The internet echoes with the distress of Pakistani brideswho have been forced to put this on their invitations for the benefit of dimwit Americans who keep trying to dump Cusinarts on them, instead of cash, which is the traditional and wholly non-tacky Pakistani /Indian gift. In fact, the cash is "often given in amounts ending in '1' for good luck."
So, we'll be doing that. Who knew?
The nephew's wedding is in June, and we have heard from the bride what colors she wants the wedding party to wear. We are not in the wedding party (despite being paraded in and pelted with candies by the children - whatEVER) and I'm fine with that.
She wants to make sure we don't wear the same colors as worn by the wedding party. You know, so no one mistakes us for her family. I think the white skin might give it away, but JUST IN CASE we are not to wear...
White, Black, Navy, Purple, Lavender, Plum, or Gold.
At first I thought, well, I'll just wear a pants suit with that fancy silver top that is too nice for work. (Tries on top.) And too small for me, as happens to clothes you never wear.
So, Gary was saying, just buy yourself something you would usually wear to work, and I thought I don't wear suits to work anymore. But I do need to have a nice black pants suit in case someone dies. Damn! No black.
I could wear my off-white silk suit I wore to the derby - No, it's too close to white. I wouldn't wear it to a Christian wedding. I could wear what I wore to his last wedding - but that's bad juju, and it's black and white.
So, I thought, let's just give up on re-usable clothes, and then Gary raved on for a while, eventually saying "You'll need to have something we could wear to the opera - " and then I shut him down. Opera? Come on. I need something I could wear out to a nice dinner, and so does Gary.
(Sandy did say it didn't matter if we wore slacks or a dress. "Since you aren't muslim no one cares if you show your legs." I call BS on this. Old women will care. And stare. And glare.)
I poked about a little and everything plus-sized was Navy, Black, or White.
And then I really freed my mind. It seems to me if I'm going to wear something for special occasions I want to be a big artsy canvas. So I stopped looking at "Special Occasion pants sets" and looked up plus-size arty.
I discovered I am a strong black woman. I would wear the hell out of this ensemble:
No, I'm serious, it's me. AND IT'S PLUM, I realized, just before I bought it.
And she looks happier in the cinnamon. Seriously, this is still in the running, as is this:
Obviously, I wouldn't stand that way. Also, I'm not six feet tall. I love the cut, though, linen is not my friend.
I also found this red jacket:
I thought a while about that one until I realized the mannequin's shoulders are wide and square and the hips are small, and that's what I found appealing.
I like this duster quite a bit, but it would cost more than my plane ticket:
So that sent me off to the used clothing area on ebay, where I think I might have actually purchased this:
I bid with hours to go at twenty bucks. There's a matching lined tank and lined pants.Of course, it will look like I'm in a Southeast Asian costume, and everyone will assume I'm pretending to fit in. Totally inappropriate. I'll have to wear it to the opera if I win.
It is entirely possible it won't fit, but I've bought lunches for less than this outfit.It doesn't shriek "look at me" like the beachy linen ensembles above, but since we will be the only non-brown people at this wedding we are going to be stared at, what with our exposed hair and sitting next to out husbands (sluts!).
Feel free to weigh in. Would giant Amazon linen outfits wrinkle less than little linen outfits? Should I spring for the duster? All this will be moot if the brown outfit shows up and fits.
Yesterday, during my father-in-law's birthday party, Wilma called me in to the kitchen.
She wanted to tell me the fresh cantaloupe Gary had picked up for them the last two weeks was spoiled. These are the prepared cantaloupe cubes, in the plastic container, specifically marketed to Gary, or anyone who wouldn't spend two seconds getting the rind off a melon.
She pulled the top off the cantaloupe container. "We've been trying to eat it the last two weeks he brought it, but it's bad."
"Let's see," I smugly said and popped a piece in my mouth. I projectile-spat the piece across the room. "Gah! That's spoiled! You tried to eat that? For two weeks? Why didn't you tell him?"
"Oh, no," Wilma explained, "That's why I'm trying to tell you. I want you to tell him."
"What? Why wouldn't you just tell him?"
"We don't want to hurt his feelings," she explained.
"He didn't GROW the cantaloupe!"
"No, but you should let him know, before he buys any more -"
"GARY," I bellowed, "Why are you poisoning yor parents with this rotted cantaloupe?"
Gary came in and I explained the situation. Wilma was aghast I was publicly broaching the delicate subject of the spoiled cantaloupe, and Gary wanted to know why they hadn't said anything.
"We thought maybe it was expired," Wilma said, dodging the question, "But what you brought today says to sell by tomorrow, so it should be good."
Gary tried a bite. "Huh. It's fine."
I doubted my own mind as I so often do at the in-laws and I tried a bite again. This time I had a napkin in hand and I spat the peppery sour slime into it.
Gary said mildly, "It kind of tastes a little like insecticide, but other than that it's fine." I attributed this to the Topamax dulling his senses.
Now, regarding men, I have hears the S______ women say more than once, "Don't tell him about it, it will just upset him." And the S______ men do get easily upset, but I find that entertaining.
This is the first time i have heard them say they didn't want to hurt a man's feelings by saying the cantaloupe he brought home was bad.
It would make sense if they said they didn't want to seem ungrateful.
It would make sense if Gary was one of those men who has hurt feelings or holds a grudge. But I assume he isn't since we are still married.
All I can guess is that Wilma's family was run by her father's volatile temper, and perhaps she assumes all men are like that, including the one she made.
One day Mom said something odd. She shared a quote she'd read, something about "how a daughter's job is to agree with the mother's version of the family history."
I believe I gave her the snake-eye with the eyebrows all askew. It seemed quite out of place. She wasn't dying, and it wasn't prompted by any blog bit she disagreed with. I must have asked what facade she wanted me to keep up. I don't remember any response.
That's my family. I think our family's warts and all have been documented. Changing the history would be impossible and unnecessary.
The in-laws? Some of them will relate a version of history that counters memories I have in my head. They might say, "Remember when A happened? That was hilarious!" and I reply, "No, it was B, and it was not hilarious."
"B? B?! That never happened."
"I was there. I remember it. Gary, B happened, right?"
Gary confirms that oh yeah, 'B,' that was nuts.
And the in-law will say, "No, that never happened." The denial is accompanied by a robotic head shake and steady dead eyes fixed on mine that make my doubt my mind. As if they think I'm about to be hypnotized into a different recollection.
For example, the Kansas City contingent came by recently and they have changed into a dead-eyed Stepford family. The children raved about their moral upbringing, which I don't contest. The they went on and on about how they never were allowed to see R-rated movies.
I thought, "Whaaaa?"
Gary said, "Whaaaa? Sandy, you've been taking them to see R-rated movies since they were little kids."
"I did not! That never happened."
I said, "Sandy, we all discussed it at the time and how -"
"That never happened." Dead eyes. Head shake. Children all shake their heads. Stepford Family.
The conversation went on to how the kids were never allowed play with guns or knives. This is why the kids are so non-violent. And why their Mom is the Greatest.
I do think it's wonderful the kids love their Mom, and I think it's great especially considering they haven't always appreciated her.
Perhaps, I though, that was because they were bitter about non being allowed to play with guns while their mom married a knife-weilding ex-con who chased her naked through their condo, and then later held a gun to the nephew's head, thus violating the ex-con's parole and sending him back to jail. Maybe. Perhaps that also contributed to the non-violence. Or maybe it was the toys.
At the time I said nothing, and that was good, because there was more to come.
The nephew is considering law school in Portland. We gave him some grief about Portand and the hippie reputation and how he'd fit right in.
"Why would I fit in with hippies," he said, "I'm not a hippie. Why would you think I'm a hippie?"
I thought, hmm, the drug addiction and the never bathing and the anarchist political beliefs and the brick-throwing in the war protest...
"You're a pacifist!" Gary said, bless him.
At some point later someone brought up something else from the past and the nephew said, emphatically, "I've changed."
I hope he's changed. I hope it isn't the "history" that's changed.
We got Ken and Wilma the Audubon bird camera for Christmas, and it has taken many entertaining photos of the four species of birds in their backyard.
At first we all fell into the "Christmas mouse" thinking - you see a mouse every couple of days in the winter; you think it's one mouse. "There's our Christmas mouse." When you have a seething mewling horde of two thousand vermin.
Much like "Oh, there's our groundhog."
So, all the wrens look the same, all the ground birds look the same, all the male cardinals look the same (outraged!), but the each female cardinal has her own stylist. One has a ratty crest, one has a chipped beak. Still they fit the standard form:
Then lo, we came upon a photo of a female cardinal that was a lot hotter than the others.
(These aren't the actual photos, but the best representations I could steal off the 'net.)
This new bird looked like a female cardinal who had been through the wash. She was at least 50% paler than the others. Wilma admired her greatly.
Ken said "She's a mulatto!"
This killed me, because Ken is almost ninety and I think some leeway is allowed, and at least he didn't say "She's an octoroon!" We steered the language away from that shortly after.
It did make me wonder if you can breed birds like you breed horses and dogs. Or perhaps I have seen the legendary albino cardinal.
Can you have a mixed bird?
For all of you who complain about the materialism of Christmas, I present to you Gary. Gary doesn't buy materials. He shows his love. A well-placed gift is love. As for Jesus, every day is Jesus Day.
That said, I shall now detail the gifts exchanged.
From Gary I got a Scooba, to replace the beloved Scooba that literally ate shit and died.
Gary got a Gatsby assortment of Daniel Cremeuix shirts, all of which miraculously fit.
He also got caffiene-infused root beer, which was despised, and a higher-tech mouse, which was met by puzzlement, and the Blu-ray version of The Music Man. (This years ornament? A trombone. Seventy-six would have swamped the tree.)
My brother Dave got an interactive Tribble and Significant Debt Forgiveness.
Wilma got a variety of items, and the best-received was the assortment of finishing salts. We licked our pinkies and sampled various salts like coke fiends.
Ken got a camera designed to take photos of birds fluttering around his feeders. "Oh, that is MINE," Karen insisted, and humorously appropriated it. So, that was one gift appreciated by multiple family members.
There were also cat cameras, to be hung on semi-wild cats and neurotic dogs. I hope Wilma does leave the house and come back to minute-by-minute photos of Tinkerbell sleeping on the couch. I hope Karen doesn't find that her stray cats like playing chicken with the cars on the interstate.
Karen got bonus presents, because the microwave slippers were UPSed along with someone else's package of rechargeable gloves and socks. I called the company and they just sent more gloves and socks to the intended recipient.
Mr. Wonderful got a re-giftable gift, a giant Dora Clownfish that would be good for his granddaughter. Karen did not get the companion flying shark, since each evidently takes three hours to assemble and I ran out of time.
We had thought Mr. Wonderful would like a turntable, but we called his wife and we were shot down. "No room! He doesn't want that." He got the turntable anyway. "Oh, that's just the one he wanted!" Kind of mystifying.
Gary got some chocolate-covered jellybeans and the soon-to-be-played Glee Kareoke. My gifts were all bathroom-related: a bathmat thoughtfully selected to match my back bath, and foot scrubbers which I really need, and then the gift of gifts, the gift I did not appreciate at the time but the full weight and import has hit me now, they gave me candles.
Is that not love? Is that not LOVE? Pyrophobic Karen trusts me enough to give me candles. Or it's anothor bathroom gift because she thinks my poop smells, which is entirely true as well.
Gary protests my characterization of Thanksgiving Eve. "I am NOT bossy."
And, in his world view, he is not bossy. In his family, he is the very least bossy and controlling person. Everyone there has an opinion on how everyone else should behave, spend, date, where they should live, and instead of just having the opinion they nag, yell, or manipulate. It is how they show they care.
A relationship in trouble is marked by use of the phrase, "I don't care, she can live her life however she wants." Whereas in my world, "She can live her life however she wants" is a sign of respect.
In my family, Mom was controlling out of necessity, because we were her arms. She did go the extra mile to tell us all exactly how we should use our arms, and which arm we should use, and so on. I go to the other extreme. I hate telling people what to do, and if I do make a suggestion, I say if you did it, then you did it right.
(This is a problem for me at TeddyJ, where we are all to make Processes, and agree on every step. "You can do your job however you want" does not work there.)
So, by in-law standards, Gary is the most easy-going guy alive. By my family's standards, he is bossy. I'm thinking there's no global standard for bossy. Is there?
Death. I was thankful no one died this year. Mr. Wonderful, my Gary, Wilma.
Sandy whispered, "What do you mean 'Wilma?' Mom didn't almost die."
"Oh! I forgot about that!"
The Future Mrs Nephew Who Was Not There. The Nephew kept the peace admirably. He spoke only when spoken to. When his Mom prompted him, he narrated the photos of his engagement (which evidently involves tying a red armband on the man).
The girl looks adorable, funny and smart. And Jewish. Of course she isn't. Orrrr ... perhaps that's HER big secret. Picture Jennifer Grey's nose
... and Kirsten Schall's smile, with a slighly smaller chin:
...with chin-length dark hair that curls madly just at the ends.
Other details: Her engagement gift from Sandy was one of the First Mrs. nephew's scarves. They are to be wed sometime in the spring, both the religious wedding and the state wedding. She and her seven sisters and one brother were all born in the United States. She'll be working while The Nephew goes to one of the 49 law schools he applied to.
It was pretty evident that The Nephew sees himself above work, since he remained in his chair while every one of the other NINE people got up and helped clean up after the meal. Sandy said, "I'll help too," and I pointed out, "ALMOST everyone is helping." So he's living his life the Pakistani way.
Things Not Discussed
The Whiteness of The Niece's Boyfriend. He seems nice, trim, and bright, and I can tell you he's a good sport. Every time the conversation got to surgeries an ER visits, I included him in the conversation. "So, Matt, have you had any surgeries?" He complimented her pumpkin pie, so I hope she'll have many compliments from here on. Oh, and his family breeds horses. SO white. I did see him involve The Nephew in a conversation once.
Sandy's Beau He does not live in Michigan, but Brooklyn. I imagine The Nephew has gone to check him outl, since The Nephew is the formerly drug-addicted prevaricating religious head of the household.
I leaned over to ask Sandy about it, and she muttered, "Can't talk about it. Makes Dad really upset." All I could get out of her was that he lives in Brooklyn, but that was something.
The Other Pies. Even though the niece sent an email that she was bringing cherry and pumpkin pie, the Wonderfuls brought two store-bought pies. Cherry and pumpkin. Now, I know some households where this would have stopped Thanksgiving, especially since there is underlying tension between the two sisters.
Underlying Tension Between the Two Sisters. They haven't spoken for weeks. Mr. Wonderful made no promises about what he would and wouldn't say. Tension? In a few hours they were in a room together taking unflattering photos of each other and giggling like ... sisters.
So, good Thanksgiving. And no one touched the Back-up Pies. My pie was soup, so that made my niece look good, and it gave Gary something to vent about so he was all calm at his parents.
LATER: I think I know now why it was a normal Thankgiving. In my family, if you'd had a father not talking to his daughter, two sisters not talking, a son not talking to a guest, it would be tense and quiet. but the talking baseline at the in-laws is SO HIGH that when you cut back on 60 percent of the talking you still have a normal conversation.
Thanksgiving this year will have land mines planted in the cranberry sauce. There are souls hanging in the balance and racial tension and cultural conflicts, all centered around the Kansas City contingent. There is so much woven subtext I can't even present it in an organized manner.
It seems the Very Muslim nephew and Semi-Muslim sister-in-law and Jack Muslim niece have been busy getting busy. Each person has a better half, most of them shrouded in mystery.
First, our niece. She is the Jack Muslim. Her better half will be present. Her boyfriend of over a year is Christian and blond and working and almost has a college degree. They are seriously involved but not married. Any other time this would cause comment. Wilma would say, "I don't understand how you kids can have such long engagements. I wanted to get married as soon as possible because I was WORRIED about my SOUL."
No one will say a word this year against a long pre-marital entanglement. Why? Gary's sister Sandy (the niece and nephew's mother) has found herself a short pre-marital entanglement.
Evidently there's a Muslim corner of Match.com. It's kind of like J-Date, but M-Date. And without any emphasis on "Date." More like M-Arranged Marriage.
Sandy has made plans with a Saudi man who lives in Michigan. He will not be there. I’m not sure how much he knows about Sandy’s plans. Sandy will talk about him. We don't know how much of what she says is based in reality.
The Saudi man is brown, in contrast to Sandy, who is pink, and the niece (brown, sometimes pink when it suits her) and the nephew (browner than brown by choice, brown and pink biologically). I would love to say the family is a wonderful blended family without racism, and it mostly is, but for the nephew. He is disgusted his sister is dating someone who isn't brown.
He, on the other hand, enraged everyone when he was courting a Michigan girl on M-Date and took the photos of his pink relatives off his Facebook page. This "browning" scheme worked because he has given this girl an engagement ring. The initial plan was for his very brown biological father/stranger to negotiate for him, but the father found himself too busy to do the one thing his son has asked him for. Instead, Sandy is going up to Michigan to arrange things. She has dyed her hair defiantly blonde to look as pink as possible.
(The elephant in the room? Before you ask, "wasn't he married befo -"
We don't talk about that. Sandy says the new fiancée knows about the previous wedding, but perhaps not all the horrible details.)
The Saudi man won’t be there, but the fiancée girl might come to Thanksgiving. I won't mention the previous wife. I will try not to press her to see if she knows about her betrothed's smoking drinking womanizing materialistic addicted past.
So, here are things not to talk about at Thanksgiving:
The pinkness of the long-term boyfriend. (The brownness of anyone is not in question.)
The length of the long-term courtship AND the brevity of the short-term courtships.
The previous marriage.
Hell and various ways to get there in comparative religions.
Anything that isn't happening in the present at the actual dinner table.
Gary's sister Sandy was in some distress this weekend over some decision her father was making. She was worked up enough to call Gary and tell him he should step in and take matters in hand, because he is ...
he is ...
the "Head of the Family."
I mean, a) sister wives use that term and b) is this a royal conspiracy? Is she trying to make her brother the Prince usurp the throne?
Now it did make me pause a moment later that day and wonder, "Why have I made this pile of used towels so Gary can approval their disposal? Why can't I just throw them away? Is it because he's Head of the Family?"
Last evening I disagreed with Gary, and he smacked my butt and roared, "How dare you question the Head of the Family!"
Does your family have a Head? And, if so: really? How does that work? What are Head Responsibilities?
Saturday was the niece and nephew's birthday dinner at the in-laws. We arrived starving. Not much on the table yet, just seven devilled eggs by the paper plates and plastic cups and forks. I wasn't hungry enough to eat devilled eggs, so I waited till the real food was out.
The real food was: vegetarian potato casserole, cornbread casserole, pasta salad, and chicken tetrazzini. The desserts were on the sideboard. Cocunut cream pie, lemon cake, and oreo cookie ice cream cake.
Various topics were discussed. Wilma copped to absent-mindedly putting a devilled egg in someone's cup before dinner because she was distracted. Sandy confirmed I do stick my tongue out when I take a bite. I suggested my niece just watch the last two seasons of Frasier on Hulu, since we didn't buy them for her birthday, and she pouted.
(She is from the gatherer tribe of the in-laws, while Gary is from the hunter tribe. The rest of Gary's family likes their movies and TV in DVD format. Gary, on the other hand, gets excited when he can "catch" a movie on TV. Gary will cry, "Look! It's The Matrix! The first one FROM THE BEGINNING!" I point at his DVD of the Matrix Trilogy that he rarely watches. "But - no - it's RIGHT HERE on TV!")
Anyway. We were finishing up, and Karen said, "Uh-oh. Why is there an eyelash on my plate?"
I thought, are you worried your lashes are falling out? Is there eyelash cancer? Sandy was worried she had throat cancer because she coughed. I quote: *Cough* "Oh no, I'm coughing, I hope I don't have cancer."
But no, someone else found an eyelash on the tablecloth, and it was no where near Karen. We began looking closely at each other's eyes when someone solved the mystery. Can you?
UPDATED: Seriously? People! Here's a hint
I was helping my mother-in-law Wilma clean up after Thanksgiving. My job was to put leftovers in Tupperware. She tutted me and said,
"When I was a girl we were taught to never waste food. The nuns called it 'Feeding the Devil.' And look at this, look at all the food you've left in this pan."
True, I had left the burnt edge of cream of mushroom soup that had adhered itself to the green bean casserole corningware. And Wilma did scrape off a tablespoon of it and added it to the easily-spooned up leftovers. And that is admirable. However, I now have a new term.
On throwing the burnt edge of pie crust into the sink: "I am feeding the devil some pie crust."
On consuming a Christmas box of Williams-Sonoma Salted Chocolate Covered Caramels now that Gary has been told he brings too many gifts, "We don't want to feed this good candy to the devil."
We don't stop at feeding the devil. We did not shop carefully and bought the devil a pair of knee socks. We have considered buying a Kinect though it would be just giving our Wii to the devil.
I thought of this today after I cooked a 4.5 pound short rib roast, which Gary spat out because it was too rich for him. So, fine. Good enough for me and the devil.
The plan for today is to eat half an omelet at First Watch, go to the Kirkwood Farmer's Market, and then go somewhere I have never been: The Magic House. It wasn't around when I was a child, and I wasn't with Gary when he took our niece and nephew. Will there soon be a photo of Gary touching the Tesla coil? I think there will.
When I last visited the in-laws, they shared with us a story of taking their kids to the Magic House. (Disclaimer: the Magic House wasn't open until 1979, when Gary was 25 and his sisters were 23 and 21. But that's okay. Just go with it. They did get the street right, so that suggests it was the Magic House.)
Gary, if I recall, started the conversation by asking why his parents never took him to the Magic House. I started to mention I didn't know it was THAT old, when Wilma insisted that OF COURSE they took him and his sisters to the Magic House, don't you remember, they had that awful parking and it was almost impossible to get out? You had to turn on to Lindbergh Boulevard, and they had such trouble? And then the car caught fire?
Wilma laughed and said she hadn't thought about that in so long, "Ken, remember when the car caught fire when we took the kids to the Magic House?" Ken nodded yes. I assumed it was because his hearing aid was off, but then he said, "It was so hard to get out of there, and then we saw the smoke coming under the hood."
I asked, "White smoke or black smoke?" because I vaguely remember one just means you have an heater coil problem.
"There were FLAMES on the WINDSHIELD." Wilma said, so insistently I believed her. "Remember, Ken, we just drove straight across Lindbergh to that gas station, and they were there with buckets of water, like they were expecting us? They saw us coming!"
I laughed, "You drove a flaming car to a gas station?"
"It was right across the street!"
"A gas station? I bet they had buckets of water ready!"
"Oh! We never thought of that!" Ken added. "I just wanted to get the car fixed."
I can imagine if, my car were on fire, I also would be the type of person determined to drive it across Lindbergh, so it wouldn't tie up the exit AND so the mechanics at the gas station across the street could explain why it was in fire. The giant tanks of gas below the asphalt gas station parking lot would be my last concern.
I won't tell you the detailed history of why Gary ended up with a spare plastic goose.
Let's just leave it at this: A few years back, Gary had a spare plastic goose, at about the same time his parents had a hawk.
The hawk would eat rabbits and peck out their brains right in front of the S______'s picture window.
Gary brought the goose to scare off the hawk, and the S______s set it out in the front yard next to the Jesus sign.
The backyard Jesus sign is now in the front yard because it protects them from evil like a big green mezuzah. It didn't do much to protect the bunnies. Happily, the hawk was not afraid of Jesus, but it was afraid of the goose.
Last weekend when Gary went to visit his parents, he came back with bad news.
"Someone stole the goose from my parent's yard. And the Jesus sign."
I squelched the urge to say, "JESUS!" Instead I said, "Probably kids. Remember when we found our porch chair in one of the vacant lots?" Then we said 'Damn kids' and shook our canes.
I went on, "If it isn't kids ... I can see someone wanting the goose, maybe, but who would steal a Jesus sign?"
Gary said, "And that's not the weirdest thing. Driving out of the subdivision I saw the goose. By somebody's mailbox. But no Jesus sign. I called my parents to see if they wanted me to steal it back, but they said no."
I was ready to hire an FBI profiler, but the answer came to me before I had to get inside the head of a Jesus-loving Canadian Goose coveter.
The house next door to the S_____s is for sale. I don't think Crazy Jesus Goose added to the curb appeal. I don;t know how he ended up separated from Jesus and on another street. But maybe I don't want to know.
Every time Gary and I leave the in-laws, Gary's Mom, Wilma, hugs us both. His Dad, Ken, hugs me and shakes Gary's hand.
Unbeknownst to everyone, THIS BREAKS WILMA'S HEART. Today, during a loud lunch conversation she randomly announced that ALL SHE WANTS BEFORE SHE DIES is to see HER HUSBAND hug HER ONLY SON just once.
"We don't hug. It's not our thing." Gary shot her down.
"GET UP AND HUG YOUR FATHER RIGHT NOW."
Gary's Dad got up, and Wilma took that chance to up the ante.
"AND WE HAVE THREE GENERATIONS OF S______ MEN HERE AND I WANT THEM ALL TO HUG AND I WANT A PHOTO."
So our nephew, Arhan-fay, got up too. "I'm a hugger," he volunteered to his Grandmother.
Gary did not hop right up immediately, and Wilma pleaded, "Who knows if we all will be together again?"
"That's right," Arhan-fay said quickly, "I could die right this minute. We all could."
Gary got up. "HUG HIM!" Wilma yelled.
I flashed back to when our niece and nephew were pre-schoolers. I protested, "NO! GROWNUPS DON'T FORCE CHILDREN TO HUG! NO TOUCH!"
Still, Gary and his Dad hugged, and Arhan-fay leaned up behind Gary and draped his arms around everyone, and the cameras flashed to document this historic event.
Disclaimer: For our 25th anniversary the in-laws gave us the china bell they got for their 25th anniversary, and we are to pass it on to Gary's married sister in 15 years. So that's nice.
BUT NICE ENOUGH? You tell me.
The In-Law reaction to the Paris trip was, if you recall, "Terrorists! Volcanoes!"
We were ultimately unswayed.
Now Wilma has suggested to Gary that he and I start our diet soon because the airline might make us both buy extra seats because of our weight.
(Pause for swelling rage.)
We did just recently go to Vegas and neither of us required the extra seat belt extender, and we were able to push the armrest down between us, and while one of us is over 250, it is all depth, not width, shall we say.
It is amazing the boy ever enjoys anything.
Odd things happened on Mother's Day.
1. I was not allowed to drive with Gary. There was not enough room for me in the Honda Fit after he put in all the petunias and presents. I had to take my own car. No one saw this as strange.
2. Since I had my own car I realized I had a chance to make a break for it when Mother's Day was done and not go through The Long Goodbye, the orgy of "Where's MY hug?" "Did you hug me goodbye? I forgot. Let's hug again." "Don't hug him, he's sick." "Oh well I'll just wave" AND LEAVE THE HOUSE ALREADY but no, then we have to have the goodbye at the car, and wave goodbye at the dog, who will be lifted up and have her paw waved at us, and since she has a special relationship with Gary she will have to lick his nose AND I WILL RUN YOU DOWN IF YOU DON'T GET OUT OF MY WAY.
After we reunited at our house I told Gary I had wanted to demonstrate to him how you can leave a house in less than twenty minutes. He said his parents had noticed I didn't wave the extra final goodbye after I had pulled out of the driveway and turned to go home. They decided I must be sick.
3. Gary actually convinced me that Paris might have to wait for next year when volcanoes stop shutting down Europe. He can't just take off an extra week of work. So my plan is to make plans for a Northern Lights vacation in Canada/ Alaska or a Paris vacation if the volcanoes settle down. And as I told him, you can still get home going eastward. Eventually. Travel insurance bought after the first eruption won't pay for volcano delays, though.
So, we shall see. There's a handy site that will show you where the Northern Lights are today, and, well, they are nowhere near a nice hotel. I'm picturing us in the middle of pine trees and mountains in Quebec far from anyone who speaks English. They are scream at us, "CHIEN! CHEIN PAR VOUER ET MARSIELLES! LA CHAUD POUR LE SAL DE BAN! NON!" We have no idea what they are talking about, then they throw us to the bears.
A few years ago, we got the S_____s a copy of The Cosby Show to add to their cache of 50s-80s family television. It's been a challenge keeping up with their desires (no witches, monsters, talking animals or PORN like Frasier).
Gary checked back with his Dad after a week and asked, "So, did you like The Cosby Show?"
"It was bad," his Dad said.
Then Gary said, "Oh! I'm sorry." Then he came home and squawked,"Who doesn't like The Cosby Show?" We had a serious discussion about the Only Type of People Who Don't Like The Cosby Show.
Gary was pretty sure his parents aren't racist. Luckily, we realized the Cosby kids sassed their parents a lot, and we know his parents don't like that back-sass. (That Darn Cat. Couldn't watch it. Too much back-sass.)
So, years passed and we mourned that his parents didn't like The Cosby Show because of the sassy kids, but we also subconsciously gave Sanford and Son, Good Times, and The Jeffersons a pass as well, just in case.
The Jeffersons was a spin-off of All In the Family, but that was tarred by association with Maude. ("Would my parents like Maude?" "Oh, yeah, Especially the ABORTION episode.") So all of the Norman Lear oeuvre was too controversial.
Gary was then surprised when his parents asked this weekend specifically to see The Jeffersons and Sanford and Son.
"But I thought you might not ... be able to relate to that. Because ... you know, you didn't like The Cosby Show."
[Flashback Music] ... [We return to the conversation years before] ...Gary asks, "So, did you like The Cosby Show?"
"It was bad," his Dad says.
[End Flashback Music]
[montage of present-day conversation with Gary waving his arms and his Dad shouting and everyone doubled over laughing]
The DVD was deficient in quality. BAD. Evidently it only played one of the episodes (which they loved, bwah, so funny).
So, driven by a threat of snow as solid a ten-day weather forecast, the in-laws moved the Christmas Eve celebration up to today. It made for a stressful day yesterday, but it's nice to have the family Christmas done.
One of my mother-in-law's gifts was a package of Host. Yes, Host, with a capital H. Host. Dehydrated Jesus. ("Jesus was made of crackers? - South Park.) Great disappointment because it wasn't round, but perhaps they were the Christmas wafers shown on the link.
There was also a question of if it was blessed, but Gary's parents are now Charismatic Catholics and have a more bottom-up view of Catholicism. Wilma went rogue, blessed it, and went about giving communion to everyone. I tried, I really tried not to make any smart remarks, but my brother-in-law was having stomach pains, so his Jesus just wasn't agreeing with him. Wilma then explained transmogrification and how through the body of Christ we become like Christ. I had to ask if Mr. Wonderful still had his double hernia, or if Christ had a double hernia too.
Wilma took pity on Gary, who had been up all night, so we didn't sing any Christmas carols. We went home and slept instead. I have to say, I do kind of like my in-laws. Did you get communion at your in-laws? Ha! No, bet you didn't.
Previously seen on In-law Christmas '09"
Sister in law: "No, let's just do two presents each."
Gary's Mom Wilma: "I don't have the energy to make the whole Christmas Buffet of Fingerfoods. I'll just make the salad and dip and 200 cookies. Your sister will bring the sandwiches and meatballs and you bring something else. Just not dessert, because we have cookies, and no salad, and no entrees, but finger food."
Gary's Dad: (has hearing aid turned off) (Smiles.)
The parent in laws are covered and this weekend is designated as the time to get something for the siblings in law. But HA HA (Laugh of Panic: think of it like the Cha-Chun! on Law and Order) the sister-in-law called.
"It is supposed to snow on Christmas Eve!"
Gary and I on speaker reassured her, "No, they never know what's going to happen a week from now."
She said, primly, "I am looking right now at Weather.com, and it says 'significant snow.'"
"So," she continued, "I was talking with Mom and she said we should move Christmas Eve up to tomorrow." (Wilma, I am sure, said "No one else will go for this.")
"I'm not going for that," Gary said, "I have to go in to work at 4:30 am. I'll be dead."
"Plus," I added, "You won't get anything from us. We aren't done."
"Oh, that's okay," she had the grace to add. She called half an hour later to "give us ideas," which again puts us right back to errand-shopping.
So, today is Christmas-eve eve! We'll be relying on KFC for Chistmas Fingerfoods, since they'll be open. And I have already assembled a nice assortment of possible gifts for Karen:
A lovely pillow that says Feliz Navidad that I got Friday from Karla at work, particularly apt since Karla is Hispanic and funny.
A lovely absorbent cloth one should put under one's dishrack that I got from Larry at work, because Larry cares about the environment and wasting water.
A lovely boxed teabag with proceeds going to St. Jude's Hospital that I got from Jennifer at work, also apt because Karen had her spinal surgery at 13 at St. Jude's. You know, the surgery that generated such indulgent pity from her family that she still to this day feels she should get anything she wants that trapped her in a hospital bed for a year in their living room so she has issues with control and privacy adhered a giant metal stick to her spine.
Actually, this is great for me, because I get to have a Christmas eve and Christmas day for once with Gary and only Gary. I think I'll make a ham. Oh wait - I'll bet you anything he still goes there Christmas eve next week. Because it will not snow, you know that. Because you are sane.
"Gary, did you read the blog today? I just want to check my facts. The commenters are horrified by your mom's behavior with the dog. I need to be sure I'm not making false accusations."
"MASTURBATING THE DOG?" Gary screamed.
"Right! I'm thinking that I heard wrong when you said your Mom was rubbing Tinkerbell's vaginal folds. Maybe you meant she was just rubbing her belly like we do with Mac sometimes, when it's a whole belly rub and sometimes we might just swoop over the penis fast."
"Oh, no. Mom was specifically rubbing the vaginal folds. She just wasn't MASTURBATING THE DOG. She was only scratching that part because the dog can't get to it to scratch. You made it sound like some kind of inter-species lesbianism."
"Oh." (Inter-species lesbianism soon to outpace Spunky Labia on search engines.)
He continued, "Like when we scratch the base of the dog's penis because he can't get to it and he likes anything scratched he can't get to."
So, I have been corrected. Scratching the dog's vaginal folds. Not to be mistaken for masturbating the dog. I apologize for any confusion this might have caused.
The in-laws have a dog named Tinkerbell
my angelic and pure Mother-in-law favors indelicate terms for the female body part.
(Hint: when I tell the above Mother-in-law stories at work I have to say "Twah" instead so no one can report me to HR.)
Gary told me that he visited his Mom today. They spent some time on the floor with Tinkerbell, rubbing the dog's belly. Gary mentioned how it was easier to rub a girl dog's belly, because they don't have a penis to dodge.
Wilma said, "Well, she's a girl, so she doesn't have a penis."
"Stop right there," I interrupted, "Your mother did not say 'penis.'"
"Oh, well, neither did I," he confessed. "I said 'thingee' or 'willy,' and so did she. But wait."
Wilma said, "She's a girl. See, she has vaginal folds."
"You lie! I know you lie. Your mother never said 'vaginal folds.'"
"She did! She said it very precisely. I think she remembers the last time she said ... the other thing."
So then, Gary's Mom began rubbing Tinkerbell's vaginal folds.
He said to his mother, "Really, Mom, you may not want to do that."
"No, she likes it."
So, I say it's a net gain. Sure, she's masturbating the dog, but she's dropped the Twah word.
I knew the kielbasa dinner would have Gary and his family monopolizing the in-laws' bathroom, so I planted myself in the lesser-used master bathroom.
"Hi, Jesus" I said to the shiny rosary hanging on the wall opposite me at eye level. He just stared back. I went about my business and avoided further eye contact with the Savior. I stared instead at the calendar behind Him.
My mother-in-law always annotates calendars, so it's fun to see what she's up to. This month includes a friend's birthday, the day the nephew returns from Emen-Yay, the day the dog goes to the vet.
This calendar didn't appear to be a Catholic calendar. No feast days were pointed out. Instead, there were days highlighted with crossed American flags. The first I noticed was right next to Jesus, Sept 18, National POW/MIA Recognition Day. "Pray for our troops" it said. I realized POW/MIAs need their own day: Memorial Day is for the dead and Veterans Day is for the living.
Then I noticed Sept 7th had the same flags. "Labor Day. Pray for our troops."
Now, I've always thought of Labor Day as a reaction to the Haymarket riots, or the Triangle fire. A slightly socialist day. I thought, "Shouldn't that be 'Pray for our unions? Pray for our coal miners? Pray for auto workers in the paint shop?" (One summer I taught at the auto plant someone died from the heat in the paint shop.)
I asked the mother-in-law about it, and she'd wondered too. I was thinking she'd say all holidays have a crossed flag and "Pray for our troops." Halloween. Earth Day. Juneteenth. I would have looked myself but I'd have to move the rosary and I figured that would burn.
Wilma was on the phone with Gary, discussing web privacy. I don't know how they got onto this topic, but Wilma was horrified to hear that anyone can read your web email, for example.
Gary," she said, "I know Ellen's on the 'web' all the time. You better tell her not to write anything personal out there."
Yep, Gary laughed too.
My brother-in-law can booty-pop like Beyonce.
If you apply for a job working with physicians and the ad says "Master's Degree required," don't believe it, because, "You don't need no Master's degree to work with no doctors."
Be sure to say you are "working on" your Master's degree.
Kinoki Foot Pads are a great gift. "They must work because they have green tea in them." They remove toxins! (It's got electrolytes.)
Audio cards that fart can make my sister-in-law laugh until she cries, especially if no one else is laughing.
If a 25 year old went to visit Pakistan when he was 6, he is well-traveled.
Saint Louis Bread Company now delivers, and we know this because God Himself put a flyer on the in-laws' kitchen table right before they found they were to have visitors. God mass-mails in mysterious ways.
There is some woman who has made a filthy, filthy commercial for Hardees. She eats a hamburger and lifts her skirt up too far. "It is disGUSTing!" "It made me SICK!" "I almost THREW UP!" "I would never eat one of those hamburgers! It didn't even make the hamburger look good!" Gary found it on YouTube as soon as he got home.
I am truly not making fun of Mormons. Today. Certainly not when they are in the great beyond praying for the souls of all their relatives, including Gary.
During the kid's birthdays, the subject of Mormon underwear arose.
"Gary, what are you talking about?" his mother asked.
"Mormons, Mom, you know they wear special underwear."
"Oh, they do not."
"Yes, they do!" (Click here to imperil your eternal soul.)
"That's silly. You are making that up. I don't believe a word you say."
"No, Mom, I've seen pictures! On the Internet!"
"Well," Wilma said archly, "I don't believe everything I read on the Internet."
So, good for Wilma. She doesn't believe in Mormon underwear. Really, it's fitting since she doesn't believe in non-Mormon underwear. So sad to see her all jaded in her eighties, though.
Gary's Christmas-celebrating sister Karen has some cats she takes care of. You might call them feral cats. Or, you might call them domesticated cats Karen has caught roaming the neighborhood, taken to the vet, and sterilized.
These cats, after their adoptions (or, again, their abductions), stay in Karen's garage until they have recovered from surgery. Often they remain. Karen feeds them, plus Stockholm syndrome may account for some of it.
That's why she sent Gary this email:
From: S_____, Karen A
Sent: Wednesday, December 17, 2008 12:28 PM
To: Gary S______
Subject: Wed - Christmas Eve
Can you and Ellen make it earlier this Christmas Eve. 10:30 am. I would like to
be home by dark because of my cats. (I have to leave the garage door
cracked when we are gone. Don't like to do that at night).
From: Gary S_____
Sent: Wednesday, December 17, 2008 2:05 PM
To: S_____, Karen A
Subject: RE: Wed - Christmas Eve
Xmas eve in the morning... That sounds a little wacky but I wouldn't
want your wild cats to have to seek their own shelter OUT IN THE WILD.
I was going to work until Noon on Xmas Eve but I moved things around so
that I can celebrate Xmas Eve morning with you.
"Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's
too dark to read." - Groucho Marx
Karen responded with "Ok thanks," and that meant Gary had to call me and have me give up a vacation day so Karen Mengle could be sure her house was secured against nighttime cat burglars. The laugh was worth it.
UPDATE: Okay, then. This is a great thing Karen is doing. I am chastised.
We had quite the long day. We drove to Independence MO (by KC), then we watched the graduation of our half-Pakistani 24 year old nephew, we ate at a Japanese steakhouse, and drove back.
Now I'm home watching a documentary on 9/11.
I ask myself why our clearly South Asian nephew has recently taken to eschewing utensils and eating his rice and salmon with his right hand. I think the answer to that is "He's 24." I suppose what throws me is that he's used utensils all his life; it isn't as if they sit in a cave in their backyard in Kansas City and squat around a fire.
Oh, well, I suppose it's good he's proud of his heritage. I totally had a chance to eat lobster, but I accepted that lobsters are unclean and it is Ramadan, so I went with duck. Im stuffed with duck. I'm an EllDucken.
So, I wasn't sure what to expect over Thanksgiving. The KC contingent (Sandy, Arzanna-fay and Arhan-fay) joined the Wonderfuls and the S_____s for the enormous turkey / dressing / cranberry / potato / pasta con broccoli / vegan tofurkey buffet.
Afterward, while we were working through our various issues with flatulence (Sandy), eructation (Karen), diarrhea (Gary), and my weekly 45-minute visit from Colin (it was Thursday), Wilma was quietly critiquing a Lush bath bomb Gary had brought her the month before.
"All this papery stuff came out of it! It was everywhere. I was afraid it would get in my TWAT."
"AGGGHHHHHH! " Gary screamed, while I asked, "Papery stuff?"
I have discussed the term TWAT with Wilma before, but this is the first time she heard Gary's reaction. And if you are from a country friendly with the term TWAT, know that here it is only second to the other term, which is so heinous in our country I don't even like to say the word "country." "Twatry" would be a little preferable.
For an example of TWAT intolerance, the women on the cruise message board were comparing techniques for tidying up after the act, someone suggested hand towels, and someone said, "if they were next to your bed for the sole purpose of after-sex-clean up wouldn't they be twat towels instead of hand towels?" That was promptly dinged by the moderator. (If you are curious about things not considered over-the-top, peruse the rest of the thread here.)
So, if the term TWAT is offensive to you, I fully understand. But, Back to Wilma complaining about TWAT-unfriendly Lush products.
Wilma said, "And I got in the bath before I dropped the bath ball in, too. Otherwise I'd have stayed out. A lady would never get in to the tub with all that stuff in it, If you know what I mean."
"Why not?" our niece asked, because she hadn't been paying attention, and now everyone was half paying attention.
"Well! Because it would get in your TWAT!" Wilma said, shocked.
Arzaana-fay: "VAGINA! VAGINA!"
Karen: "What? I call it a TWAT! Mom's right."
Sandy: "Hoo-ha! Hoo-ha!" (Evidently that's the Muslim term.)
Wilma: "It's my TWAT! That's not a bad word."
Me: "Wilma, it's the second-worst thing you can call your vagina."
Ken: "Why are we talking about your TWAT? The kids don't want to hear about your TWAT!"
Gary (moaning): "Noooo!"
Karen: "What's wrong with TWAT?"
Even after seeing the full group reaction, Wilma is still going to say TWAT, of course, because she is sweet and pure. Like in the Vagina Monologues, she's taking back TWAT, and nothing will deter her.
Gary reminded me that it is indeed my Birthday Month again. Start the 31 days of celebration!
And lo, what arrived on the second day of the Birthday Month? Sock Zombie!
Note the casual way my Sock Zombie reclines. "Hey, baby," my zombie says, "Check out my tiny wooden skull earring."
Oh, and the photo above was taken with my new iPhone. But, more important, an Erin-crafted Sock Zombie!
On the next day of the Birthday Month, there was the Birthday Celebration at the S__________s. I am convinced Mr. and Mrs. Wonderful are on to me. Tell me what you think: Mrs. Wonderful talked so emphatically without swallowing that she needed a bib because food kept falling out on to her bosom. AND she fetched Mr. Wonderful a string of dental floss and he flossed at the table. Because he was with family, he said, and that was true. I considered picking my nose in response but I couldn't bring myself to do it.
What do you think? Have my in-laws outed me?
After, what, twenty-something years Gary and I are starting to work on one of our most fundamental problems: our expectations about help.
This after yet another morning in which Gary woke me by screaming "Wake UP! It's 6:45!" (pause) "6:50, sweetie!" (pause) "Sweetie! It's 6:55! WAKE UP!" This screaming is unsolicited, it is unappreciated, and it has made me hate the term "Sweetie." Shut the hell up, Sweetie.
On the days I wake up before Gary, he wakes up and bellows, "AUUGH! It's 6:50! I'm late! Why didn't you wake me up?" I scream in my head, "Because you are a grown man. Adults can wake themselves up without being nagged awake."
I asked him recently how he woke up when he lived those six years as a bachelor without me, and how perhaps he might want to hearken back to those days, because I intended to treat him as a grown man.
His answer? His mommy called every day to wake him up.
The big breakthrough came on the fifth of July. We were to be at the in-laws at 1:00 pm. At 11:15 Gary's sister Karen called. To remind him. To wake him up. To control him. To treat him like a child.
"To help me out!" Gary explained.
"Did you ask her to?"
"No. She was just being nice. She was helping."
"No! SHE was being nice. SHHHHEEEE was being considerate by reminding me and making sure I was awake." Unlike YOU, hung in the thought balloon over his head.
"Aha!" I said, "Here I've been treating you with respect, like a grownup, and you want help."
(Take a moment to remember my mother, and her disabilities, and how she would flail her feeble useless arms at you if you even looked like you were going to try to help her. Thank you.)
So, I've been more in tune with Gary's expectations of help, and I try to live my life thinking WWWD (What would Wilma do?). This came in handy in Louisville this past weekend. As we left the hotel room, Gary said, "It's probably going to rain."
"Let's bring the umbrella," I said, reasonably.
"NO! I don't want the umbrella. We'll be fine."
Of course it rained, of course he complained, of course he blamed me for not bringing the umbrella. I realized, WWWD? She would have forced the umbrella on him while he yelled and physically fought her off. This is what is expected of me.
The next day we were in the gift shop, buying him a package of cough drops. "Let's buy two," I said, "It's a long drive back."
"No, I just want one."
I swung into Wilma Mode. "Ring these up, too," I said to the cashier.
"No! I said I don't want those!"
"Just ignore him," I said to the cashier, and she listened to me. Because I'm the Mom!
It's good to know the secret to Gary's expectations, but I don't want a baby, I want a man.
Perhaps it's time for a spanking.
Congrats to everyone who answered Seven!
It was almost eight. As I left she said, "I hope you feel better soon."
"No, really I'm fine."
"That cold can last a while."
So, I couldn't count that as Mom-generated sympathy.
So, brownies baked in the Famous Edge Brownie Pan for:
Because seven is the magic number. (All BNL children, in chorus: "Seven Eight Nine!")
AND, a new Blog From Beyond is up at Queen Mum.
Saturday is the big Dual Mother's Day / Birthday Party for my mother-in-law. It should last six hours.
Let's place some bets.
How many times will my mother-in-law mention my mother and how sad it is that I don't have my mother on this Mother's Day and how terribly I must be missing my mother since it is Mother's Day and even though I don't have a mother my mother will live on always in my heart.
How many times?
I'm serious. I'm going to keep track. If your guess is closest I might even bake you something and mail it.
Place your bets in the comments. Betting will end Monday night.
Please, no doping.
E is for The Estate.
The Estate remains unsettled. Wilma has noticed that every few days the phone rings and the caller won't wait through the answering machine message. She's convinced it is the rightful heirs harassing them. I told her John McCain was harassing them and it would stop in early November.
A is for Arguing.
I walked in to a room and heard Gary proclaim, as fact, two errors about Mom. To wit, he said Mom is having cataract surgery on her smaller cataract. False. She got a second opinion and is now going to try a new glasses prescription. And he said she could miraculously use the hand that hasn't worked for almost sixty years. All I can think of is he heard me say "Mom" and "hand" and he added the word "miraculous" just to please his mother, because she prays for my Mom a lot. So I was forced to correct him, and thus argued with him in front of his parents. So because it was Easter, I told him mom could play the piano again.
S is for the S_____'s house.
Wilma let it slip that they'll be willing their house to the Church. I wanted to suggest they give it to the disinherited children, but I could not be heard over the screaming and complaining.
T is for Tinkerbell.
Tinkerbell the dachslut sticks her tongue into your mouth in an attempt to find food you may not have yet swallowed. Wilma had to put all the food in the refrigerator after she cooked it because she was sure Tinkerbell would sneak it off the stovetop. She had no other choice. The S_______s don't shut dogs away in rooms by themselves, especially when they have been through the Rottweiler Trauma.
E is for Eating.
It is no wonder that I don't cook for Gary any more. Every bite of food he put in his mouth was evaluated and critiqued. Ham ("Inedible! Awful! The top few slices were good, but the rest is just gristle!), Potato Salad ("Cold! Why did you serve it cold? It's better at room temperature!"), Asparagus ("We prefer it stir-fried; it's crunchier!"), and then Cherry Pie (Grunt. "More pie.")
R is for Resurrection.
In a vain attempt to spark an Easter Miracle, Wilma responded to all complaints with, "It's Easter! Jesus is risen! We should be happy, we shouldn't complain!" Her children complained louder.
A search that led some lost Google soul here made me think of this tale from Gary's childhood.
Gary and his two sisters were under ten at the time. One day, they were playing in the yard with their black Labrador, Happy. Happy was in high dog spirits that day, and the kids were chasing him around, playing.
Then suddenly, their screams turned to screams of horror. Karen began to cry. Gary ran in to tell his Mom that something was wrong with Happy's "thing."
Wilma came out to view the state of Happy's penis, and found that it had a red protruding growth a third the length of the dog. Happy was still jumping about and kept jumping on the kids. "Eeeeeeeeeeee! He's touching me with it! EEEeeeeeeeEEEE!"
"It looked like lipstick," Wilma will say to this day. "I'd never seen anything like that. And the kids were screaming, and Ken was at work."
So of course, Happy had to be driven to the vet and diagnosed. Just to express the level of hysteria, Wilma drove only rarely, and stopped driving soon after. But the dog was obviously really sick, and the kids were crying.
Happily, no biopsy was needed, and the dog was diagnosed with a penis.
That's why I understand why someone Googled "Red + dog penis." (And I am proud to have been one of the few R-rated results. X-rated dog sex is popular.) I can easily see myself doing the same thing. My experience of the erect penis is limited, but Gary's doesn't look like that. Dogs are so open about their erections, and they have them even if they've been neutered, so "Penis" wouldn't have been my first guess either.
All I know is we were putting gifts in piles on Christmas Eve. I was at the in-laws with the whole (Christmas-observing) crowd: Gary, Karen, Karen's husband (Mr. Wonderful), Ken, Wilma, me.
As I bent over my pile, there were footsteps behind me. The last thing I heard was Karen bossing her husband, demanding he help me with my present pile.
Then I felt him my PAT MY ASS.
It's like when heroes report diving into the water to save drowning victims: I didn't think, I just reacted. My spine snapped straight up and I heard myself haughtily pronounce:
"You did not just pat my ass."
Luckily, I was pivoting to skewer him with a withering glare, and I faced him by the time I got to "ass," so it came out:
"You did not just pat my - oh, hi hon. It's you."
"What the hell?" Gary grimaced at me.
This is what happens when you have a husband named Gary, a brother-in-law also named Gary, and a sister-in-law who uses an equally bossy tone with both.
Wilma and Ken saw A Christmas Story last year, hated it, said they were bored, turned it off.
This year, Karen said 'I hate that movie. It's stupid."
(Karen also asked me not to remind her of anything embarrassing; if she's forgotten catching me "naked" there's a reason why.)
Last year I clutched my head and screamed at the thought someone wouldn't like this movie. This year, for the first time, I saw the first fifteen minutes of A Christmas Story. I'd never seen the first fifteen minutes before. It is kind of stupid. There's a long fantasy sequence with Black Bart, which pales next to the Soap Poisoning and A+++++++ sequences later. They actually should start the movie with Flick getting his tongue stuck to the flagpole.
Of course "Bumpkissssssessss!" is the best line ever. Merry Christmas!