Tuesday, October 17, 2017

In which I wonder if I am evil or just practical

Turns out Primo is hosting a house party (i.e., a political ask for money thing that happens at the home of someone who is not the candidate) the day after I have a mammogram.

I will be taking mammogram day (Wednesday) as a sick day because my company just converted our personal days to sick days.

As in, instead of getting five days a year for whatever, I now have to be sick to take those days.

My friends, I am a very lucky person who does not get sick.

They can write on my tombstone, "She never let a vacation day go unused."

I am ticked off about this.

1. I don't get sick.
2. 25% of my vacation time just disappeared
3. I am not paid by the hour. If you want to treat me like an hourly employee with sick time, then pay me OT for the days that start at 5:30 a.m., when I am at the ferry terminal to go across the lake to corporate, and end at 10 p.m. when I finally arrive at the hotel
4. I either have to let time off go unused or turn into a liar

What did corporate think would happen? That everyone would say, "Oh! Now that the policy has changed and I am not sick, I guess I will let those days go unused!"

Anyhow. I am taking Wednesday as a sick day for my one-hour mammogram. In the old days, I would have just worked from home that day and run out for the hour.

Primo is having the house party on Thursday. Months ago, when he asked if I minded, he promised I would have to do nothing to prepare and would not have to attend if I didn't want to.

But I know - because this is human nature - that if I am at home the day before the event that I will have to observe the preparations, or, worse, get sucked into the drama.

I am going to change my appointment and go to work on Wednesday instead. Does that make me a bad wife? :)

Saturday, October 14, 2017

In which I wonder what to write from now on, as Sly and Doris are dead (although the estate still is not settled and continues to present challenges) and as Ted has quieted down some, which makes us nervously happy but also scared because when will the next shoe drop?

So yeah.

There's the draft of the book I wrote, where I fictionalized events because really, nobody wants to read a story where there is not some kind of either redemption (happy!) or comeuppance (even happier for the people watching for the comeuppance). (Think "House of Cards" - I hate every character on the show, but I watch because I want to see them get what's coming to them.)

I sent query letters to agents but either I stink at writing query letters or my first pages were not compelling.

But you know what? I don't think I am a novelist. I am not a plot person. My friend Jeff Abbott is brilliant at plotting. AND he gets to incorporate what he studied in college! He was an English and history major and one of his books has all this stuff about Russia and the Cold War. He mentioned one of his history professors in the acknowledgments, which was really cool.

I am not about plot. I can't make plot up. I don't think I am good at sustained narrative where you start with The Protagonist Wanting Something She Can't Get (i.e., a good relationship with Sly and Doris) and then Overcoming Obstacles and Going Underground For Three Days to Overcome Her Tragic Flaws only to Emerge Triumphant.

I think I am better at short scenes and that's what I like and I just have to figure out how to get that kind of thing published. (Published somewhere besides here, I mean.)

The other thing is that Primo is running for office again. He has a chance to win this time, which would be cool.

I am not interested in being part of the political world myself, but I will gladly grab the popcorn and listen to all his stories about the politics of politics. (It's SO DIRTY, Y'ALL. SO DIRTY. BUT SO FASCINATING.)

So maybe I'll write about that. On verra.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Ch 12 Primo gives me the best wedding present ever and nope, it’s not a trip to Paris or a diamond bracelet or anything else you might think of

Primo helps Sly and Doris to bed. My mom, who is not drunk, is able to get to bed by herself. Primo and I use the guest bath to brush our teeth. I do not want to use our bathroom – the bathroom Sly and Doris have been using – until I can give it a good cleaning with bleach.

Is that irrational? I don’t think so.

Not to be too explicit, but it appears that Sly does not adopt the practice of sitting on the toilet when he is at someone else’s house. Older men, older men plumbing problems, older men dripping in places. Ick. I don’t want his cooties.

We pull out the sofa bed. Put the sheet of plywood under the thin mattress so there will be some back support. Smooth the old cotton sheets Primo has been using for years. The throw pillows are still in the window where we put them last night before so the sun wouldn’t wake us at the crack of dawn, but we discovered this morning that the sun is not the problem. Noisy Sly and Doris are the problem.

We collapse.

Primo: That was fun.

Me: I know.

Primo: Except for my mom and dad getting drunk.

Me: Getting drunk and then driving your car to the restaurant! Yeah, that was super smart. We should have seen that coming.

Primo: I know. I was so distracted by – you know – OUR WEDDING – that I wasn’t thinking.

Me: Me neither.

Primo: The sad thing is, I know my dad does that kind of thing all the time. I know he doesn’t forego his 4:00 drink when they go out to eat. I think he has gotten good at driving drunk.

Me: They are so lucky they have never hurt anyone.

Primo: Yeah, I know. I have been making sure I do the driving when I am with them for years.

Me: It would have been nice if they had stayed sober or at least not acted drunk for our wedding dinner.

Primo: You mean, “It would have been nice if they had thought about someone else instead of themselves?”

Me: Yeah! That!

Primo: That’s how they roll.

Me: Your mom was all weepy about you when you were a baby and wanted out of your crib. She tells me that story every time she sees me.

Primo: Any time she drinks, she gets like that.

Me: Which is – always.

Primo: Unfortunately, yes. She is not a happy person.

Me: But this was different. She gave me her mother’s wedding ring.

Primo: What?

Me: I was shocked, too. The ring is a huge deal with her.

Primo: It is?

Me: Don’t you remember the first time I met your parents how she told me about it and she was all sad because she had wanted to give the ring to Nancy?

Primo: Oh yeah. I had forgotten about my grandmother’s rings. I don’t get sentimental about things like that.

Me: Your mom does.

Primo: She is attached to things.

Me: I get annoyed with her – she seemed to be all in on the boycott the wedding movement, but I also feel sorry for her, being stuck with your dad. That fight they had the last time we were there?

Primo: What are you talking about?

Me: When he was screaming at her! And she was crying!

Primo: I don’t remember.

Me: How can you not remember?

Primo: Because that kind of thing happens all the time with them. It’s their normal.

Me: That is really sad.

Primo: My dad is a jerk.

Me: You can say that again.

Primo: How about that toast?

Me: Lovely! I like the way he insulted his first wife. And the way he talked you up, you, the perfect child, in comparison to your brothers. Even though we know he is also probably very disappointed in you, too.

Primo: Man.

Me: What? You don’t like being the Perfect Child? Aren’t you proud?

Primo: I don’t want the burden of being responsible for them. I don’t want to be the only one they want. My life would be a lot easier if Ted and Jack helped out. Only my mom and dad don’t want them, they want me.

Me: Who cares what they want? Why do their wishes get to trump yours?

Primo: All they do is complain. They are horrible houseguests. You made things so nice – we gave them our bedroom! – and they still complain! They can’t even say one nice thing to you.

Me: Nope. Because I am the evil gold digger.

Primo: Although really, it’s my dad. My mom just goes along with him.

Me: Yes – she is a different person when she is not around him. I could not believe how she – she – sparkled! – when she and I went to the gardens.

Primo: My dad is a jerk. He is the one doing the main complaining. You didn’t offer oatmeal.

Me: What?

Primo: Didn’t I tell you? I thought I had.

Me: What are you talking about? You told me about the cabbage and the napkins and of course we know I am a Bad Bacon Eater, but oatmeal? There is something about oatmeal now?

Primo: My dad is annoyed that you did not offer him oatmeal.

Me: But I did! I showed him and your mom where everything was so they could make breakfast for themselves and not have to wait for us.

Primo: No. He was upset that you made oatmeal and did not offer any to him.

Me: When?

Primo: I think he first complained about this on Monday.

Me: Oh! Yes, I made oatmeal on Monday, but when I got to the kitchen, your dad was already eating cornflakes.

Primo: He was?

Me: Yes! He was almost done with his cereal when I started making oatmeal. I guess I could have asked if he wanted an oatmeal chaser to his cornflakes, but it didn’t occur to me that someone who had just finished a bowl of cold cereal would also want a bowl of hot cereal.

Primo: He has been complaining about that.

Me: Why didn’t he just ask me to make some for him?

Primo: Because he would rather have a reason not to like you.

Me: Of course. They’re not going to be visiting often, are they?

Primo: I doubt they will visit ever again. I have no intentions of ever inviting them again.

Me: Then that’s fine with me.

Primo: And you don’t need to go with me when I visit them. This boycott threat? That was ridiculous. I need to visit them because they are my parents and I feel sorry for my mom, but I don’t think you need to put any more effort into the relationship.

Me: Good. Because I am done with them.

Primo: They have been so awful. I feel so bad for my mom, but even though I feel bad for her, just a few days of them in our house has been horrible. They will never live with us. Ever.

Me: Is that your wedding present to me?

Primo: Yes, I suppose so!


Me: That? Is the best wedding present you could have given me.

THE END

Ch 12 Doris is all weepy at my wedding dinner and it kind of ticks me off but then I really listen to her and it makes me sad for her and then she makes a Grand Gesture and it makes me so sad because her daughter is dead and she is married to a jerk and there is nothing she can do

Doris waves me over. Good grief. Now what?

Her cheeks are wet. Why is she sad? This is a wedding, a celebration.

I know! I know! I am joking! She is sad that Primo married me. Or she is sad that she is married to Sly. Or both.

She is drunk. She is weeping.

Doris: The most blissful time of my life was when Primo was a toddler. I would put him in his playpen while I ironed and did other housework. At only nine months old, he started talking. He was so bright. “Out!” he would say. “Out!” Then he would raise his little arms so I could lift him. I treasured those days.

Me: Yes, you’ve told me that story before.
           
Doris: He is my Only Joy!

Me: Uh huh.

Don’t you just want to slap me and tell me not to be such a bitch? Writing this, I feel really bad. I am not being kind. It costs me nothing to be nice to an old lady. And man, do I get hoist on my petard here. You’ll see.

Doris: No, you don’t understand. He really is the only happiness I have in life. He is the only person in my life who brings me joy.

Oh. Oh. I get it. I would be bitterly unhappy if I lived with Sly. I guess I would drink, too, as much as I could. I still remember what Primo’s brother said about Sly: He turns wives into alcoholics.

Doris: You love Primo. You’ll be good to him.

Me: OK, Doris. OK. I know.

She weeps.

Crap. What do I say? I just don’t want to deal with her weepy, drunk emotions. I don’t inflict my emotions on other people. I don’t want to take theirs.

Doris: Sit down.

Me: Ummm.

I look around for rescue.

Doris: Please.

I don’t want to talk to her, but I feel sorry for her.

Doris: I want to give you something.

Is she going to give me Wedding Night Advice? Great. That would be fabulous.

She pulls out a small box out of her purse and hands it to me.

Doris: Open it.

It contains a ring with a thin, worn band and a tiny diamond. The band has been cut.

Doris: That is my dear, dear mother’s wedding ring. They had to cut it off her finger when she died. I want you to have it.

My jaw drops. She has told me about her mother’s ring and how precious it was to her. She had wanted to give it to Nancy. She cried when she told me about it. I don’t even know what to say to you guys, except see what I mean about being hoist on my petard?

I really don’t know what to say to her.

Me: Thank you, Doris. I don’t know what to say. I know how special this ring is to you and I know how much Primo loved his grandmother. I will treasure it. Thank you.


A hug seems like the right thing to do but it also feels incredibly awkward. I pat her hand. That seems like a good compromise. 

Ch 12 Sly makes a toast but can’t even bring himself to say my name

Sly stands. “I want to offer a toast to our son, Primo, who is our only joy. He is intelligent and accomplished.[1] He is the only thing in our life we are proud of.” (Blah blah blah more stupid boring stuff here that is just blather.) “My first marriage was not a success. I hope Primo is as happy in his second marriage as I am in mine.”

Notes:

·         Not once does Sly say my name
·         Not once does Sly refer to “Primo’s wife”
·         Not once does he say the word “Welcome”
·         He does say the word “happy” once, but it is almost a curse – he and Doris are miserable, as far as I can tell

A silence falls over the two tables. Sly and Doris have no friends. Their chief joy is trash talking other people, including their own family, and waiting for 4:00 so they can start drinking. What’s the point of waiting until 4:00 anyhow? If you’re a drunk, you’re a drunk. Own it. If you want to drink, drink. Waiting for an arbitrary deadline does not make you less of a drunk.

Sure. Thanks, Sly. This is the happiness I want for sure.



[1] Sly doesn’t really believe that. He thinks Primo should have gotten a PhD.

Ch 12 My brother and my sister each make a toast welcoming Primo to the family

My brother stands. “I would like to make a toast,” he says. “We are very happy to have Primo in our family. My sister is a special person and she waited a long time to find the right man. We had given up. But as soon as I met Primo, I knew her wait – and ours – had been worth it. Here’s to Goldie and Primo.”


Jenny stands. “I also want to welcome Primo to our family. He is a great guy. I can tell he loves my sister and that she loves him. We are very lucky that our family has grown to include Primo. I couldn’t ask for a better brother in law.” 


Ch 12 Primo and I make sure we will not be sitting by Sly and Doris at the restaurant

Primo and I arrive first at the restaurant. Bayou, one of our favorites, serves excellent New Orleans style food.

I worked with the chef to create a menu that would make everyone – the lactose intolerant, the lactose fakers, the hemochromatosis, and the whatevers – happy.

The booze issue. Lord have mercy, Sly and Doris could put us in the poorhouse with their alcohol bill. We have to manage this.

“We have some guests who – like to drink,” I explained to the owner. “How do we do it so everyone knows that they only get one drink on us? We are bringing the wine, but I can see my in-laws running up a bar tab higher than the dinner costs. Not to mention I don’t need them to get smashed.”

He laughed. “I promise your situation is not unique. We’ll handle it. Our waiters know what to say.”

Two tables at the back of the restaurant are set beautifully, with a small menu at each plate. At the top of the menu, it says, “Primo and Goldie Rehearsal Dinner,” which is wrong.

Should I be a bridezilla? Throw a fit?

Nope. Not a big deal. Who cares? We are married and that is all that matters. Perhaps they aren’t used to Friday afternoon weddings.

Me: Where is everyone going to sit?

Primo: My mom and dad will be upset if they can’t sit with me. But this is our wedding. They have had me mostly to themselves since Saturday. Let’s sit with your brother and sister.

Me: Let’s hope they get here before your mom and dad do.

Primo: I hope they get here soon.

Me: I don’t!

Primo: No. I mean – I didn’t even think about it before I gave them the car keys, but they went back to the house to drink.

Me: Oh crap. Really? Your dad is going to be driving drunk?

Primo: I don’t think so. When I am with them and we go out for dinner, he doesn’t drink as much as he usually does. I think this was more for my mom.

Me: You mean he was trying to be nice to your mom? That’s a switch.

Primo: I know.

My mom, Dr. J, Greg, and Jenny arrive.

Me: Mom, would you do me a huge favor? This would count as your wedding present to me.

Not really. She already sent me a Kitchen Air mixer and I have no intentions of returning it. This is wedding present number two.

Mom: Sure. What do you want?

Me: Would you sit at the table with Sly and Doris so I don’t have to?

She raises her eyebrows. I have not told her anything about the bad blood between Primo’s parents and me. I am not a Reliable Narrator. I didn’t wanted to poison her against them before she met them. Maybe I am wrong and Sly and Doris are right. Maybe they were right to tell Primo not to marry and to threaten to boycott our wedding. Maybe I am a golddigger.

Maybe my mom will see them in a different way. Maybe I am the problem, not Sly and Doris. Maybe they are really lovely people who are easy to get along with and I’m the one who has no friends or relationships that I have sustained across decades, oceans, and languages.

Hahahahaha! I just had to say that.

No.

I just hadn’t wanted to burden her with the knowledge that she was going to have to spend several days in the same house with people who think she and I are stupid because of our political and religious beliefs.

“OK,” she says. “Sure.” She takes Dr. J’s hand and moves to the other table.

I grab my brother and sister. "Sit here," I say. "We've hardly had a chance to see you!" There. Now I am surrounded by people I like. I am throwing my mom, Dr. J, and Pastor Gail to the wolves of Sly and Doris, but they are taking one for the team.

Besides, let Sly and Doris prove me wrong about worrying about how they would behave in public. They were insulted at the insinuation that they would be rude to Pastor Gail? Show me I was wrong. I’d be happy to be wrong.

Not to be all bridezilla-y, but it is my wedding, in theory and probably in reality because I am one and done, the only wedding I will ever have. If you can’t sit with the people you want at your own wedding, when can you?

Once everyone has arrived, the waiter offers everyone a drink. He says something like, “The hosts are offering one complimentary cocktail before dinner.” He makes it sound good but he also makes it clear that if anyone wants more than one, they can get out their own wallets.


Sly and Doris order only the one drink each, which seems like not a lot for them, but during dinner, there is a lot of wine being consumed at the other table and it sure isn’t by my mom, Dr. J, or Pastor Gail.