Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Ch 1 The condition of the guest room and Primo’s sister’s smoking habits

 Whoa. The guest room. The living room is a mess but the guest room is worse. Maybe they don’t expect people to see the guest room?

It’s not full of trash or anything like that, but it is crowded with photos and posters, crooked in their Michael’s frames, and dusty knickknacks next to the small TV on the dresser. The closet is stuffed full with clothes decades out of style, including heavy winter dresses and tops, with no place for me to hang my things.[1]

I find a paper bag[2] containing old newspapers from Pittsburgh on the closet floor. I flipped through them, looking for the significance – “Dewey Beats Truman?” – but apparently, they are just old newspapers that were moved from Sly and Doris’ old house to the new one.

You guys know movers charge by the pound, right? My dad was in the military and every time we moved, we had to ditch books, because books put you over your weight allowance right away and are not essential for life.

(I think books are essential for life because I am a reader and I am usually happier in a book than I am dealing with real people, but books are not essential for life the way sheets and towels and silverware are.)

The guest bed is uncomfortable, the room is noisy (from Doris’ CPAP machine, which lives in the dining room next to the guest room) and stuffy (the windows are shut and we are depending on air conditioning, even though the weather is perfect and I would be thrilled to sleep with the windows open), and there is nowhere for me to put my clothes, my purse, or the suitcase except on the floor.

Also – no chocolate on the pillow.

These people are savages.

The sheets are pilled[3] and pulling off the mattress because the elastic is shot. The pillow saw better days already ten years ago. I just bruised my thigh on the footboard, which has lovely sharp edges just waiting to pounce.

And there are small round holes with brown edges all over the bedspread and the nightstand.

Me: What on earth are these holes?

Primo: Burn marks.

Me: What?

Primo: This was Nancy’s furniture and linens. Those are cigarette burns.

Me: So – she smoked in bed?

Primo: She did a lot of things.

[1] Not that I have much stuff to hang. My travel clothes philosophy is “Must be able to be stuffed into a suitcase without wrinkling.” It’s the principle of the thing.
[2] Yes, I am very nosy. Like you wouldn’t look? If they didn’t want me to see it, they shouldn’t have left it out.
[3] This is what happens when you get polyester blend instead of all cotton. Am I being a bitch? Probably.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Ch 1 Speaking of Viagra

Me: Wow. Look at this story. She had sex with her husband every night for a year.

Primo: What story?

Me: In this magazine that I found on the plane. Point is that she and her husband had sex every single night for a year. Every single night. That’s nuts.

Primo: I'm not getting that much. You didn't want to the other night.

Me: No, you wanted to watch the hockey game instead.

Primo: You didn't want to do it.

Me: Oh please. Neither did you.

Primo: Yeah, but I can blame it all on you.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Ch 1 Sly tells Primo about his Viagra and we are both grossed out because it is so inappropriate

After dinner, I excuse myself with my headache and go to bed to read (and to write all this stuff down before I forget). Primo stays with his mom and dad to play cribbage.

An hour later, he slips into the guest room.

Me: Get out! You can’t sleep here with me. It’s too weird.

Primo: But I have to tell you this! Guess what my dad showed me just now?

Me: I couldn’t possibly begin to guess.

Primo: He showed me his Viagra! He bragged about it.

Me: Oh gross. I didn’t need to hear that. Why did he tell you?

Primo: I don’t know. Maybe he wanted me to know that he can still get busy.

Me: Did you want to know that?

Primo: Not particularly.

Me: Does your dad have any boundaries?

Primo: He doesn’t have anyone else to confide in.

Me: Why does he need to confide to anyone about this?

Primo: They don’t have any friends. They don’t have anyone to talk to.

Me: Not your job, honey. That’s not your problem and your parents should not be telling you things like this. Nobody wants to know this stuff about their parents. Nobody.

Primo: Well, what about this? My dad says that circumcising me was a mistake. He regrets letting them circumcise me and my brothers.

Look! Squirrel!

Me: Well, I do think it's mutilation. If I had boys, I would be against it and would not want to have it done.

We digress and discuss the issue, pros and cons.

Primo: Maybe it's not such a bad thing. My dad[1] says that he has problems with –

Me: Stop! I do not want to hear about your dad's penis!

Primo: But –

Me: No! I mean it! Do not talk about your dad’s penis with me!

Primo: OK.

Me: Hey. I don’t understand your mom and dad. When they talk about Ted and Jack, why don’t they just say “brother?” Why do they say “half-brother?”

Primo: It’s not like I grew up with them.

Me: Yeah, but they are your brothers, right?

Primo: Half-brothers.

Me: That’s a lot to say. It’s easier to say “brothers” than “half-brothers.”

Primo: They want to distance me from them.

Me: Why?

Primo: My dad has told me that Ted and Jack are a great disappointment to him.

Me: He told you that your brothers are a disappointment to him? He complained about one kid to the other kid?

Primo: Two kids. He complained about two kids to one kid. Yes.

Me: You know what I meant. Your dad’s not exactly the poster child for parenting, is he?

Primo: You mean your mom has never complained about your brother and sister to you?

Me: Nope. My dad never did and my mom never has. How do you know your dad doesn’t trash talk you to them?

Primo: I don’t know. Maybe they do.

Me: How are they disappointing? What’s so bad about them, other than being pompous and not eating leftovers?

Primo: Ted hasn’t held a steady job in decades. He says he’s a movie producer, but I have never seen any movie he has produced. I don’t know if he actually has done any.

Me: How does he live?

Primo: His wife has a good job.

Me: What about Jack? What did he do wrong?

Primo: When my mom and dad moved here, they suggested that Jack and Stephanie move as well. They wanted the kids out of Philadelphia. Jack was working for the school district, but he’s a chef and has always wanted to open his own restaurant.

Me: That’s cool! Very risky, but cool.

Primo: Yes to the risky part. My mom and dad were the major investors in the restaurant but it failed. They lost a lot of money. Jack and Stephanie got divorced. It has been a rough few years. They are really angry with Jack because the restaurant failed.

Me: But – they knew the risk they were taking, right? I mean, I am not a restaurant person but I know just off the top of my head that restaurants are one of the riskiest businesses to get into.

Primo: I doubt it. My dad thinks he is the smartest man in the room, so he probably didn’t do any research. He probably thought that just because Jack is a good cook – which he is – he is an excellent chef – that he could run a successful restaurant.

Me: Ouch. That does not necessarily follow.

Primo: I know. I was not involved in this decision. But they are super ticked off about it.

[1] Sly is, I gather, not circumcised, which is far more than I want to know about that issue.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Ch 1 We finally eat supper but it’s way too late to stop my migraine

Did I mention that? That I am getting a migraine because I haven’t eaten?

I think I did.

It’s my own stupid fault for not having brought Emergency Food. I should never have assumed that being a guest in someone’s home meant that that someone would provide meals.

By 7:30, when we finally have supper, my stomach is full of Bad Cheese, but I still have a headache. I finally give up and excuse myself for a moment, but when I get into the bedroom, which is where my purse and my Imitrex are, I realize that I don’t have my Swiss army knife with me because I have been on a plane and I for once remembered to remove the knife from my purse before leaving the house so I wouldn’t 

1.      Lose the knife or
2.      Have to run back to guest services and prepare an envelope for the nice volunteer to mail to me on her way home (after buying something – anything but coffee or liquid – at the Starbuck’s outside of security so I can break a $20 bill and give the volunteer the money for the postage)

My doctor writes the prescription for the largest Imitrex possible – 100 mg – and then I cut it into smaller pieces to take it. I get only nine tablets a month, regardless of size.

I take the pillbox into the kitchen, where I find a paring knife. I try to cut a quarter of the pill off the end, but the paring knife is so dull that it smashes the $20 tablet instead of slicing it. I watch most of $20 worth of prescription drug turn into dust and scatter on the counter with the cat hair and coffee grounds.

No matter. It’s still the drug. I pick out the cat hair and the grounds and sweep the dust into my mouth. My people do not waste.

I return to the table, the pillbox in my pocket, and try to pretend to be interested in the conversation. I poke at the food on my plate while Sly and Doris talk to Primo, ignoring me. The conversation continues along the same lines as before: All the stupid people, including Stephanie, who are ruining life for Sly.

I force myself to take a few bites. Who knows when the next meal might come? I also make a mental note to escape the next day to a grocery store – there is some advantage to having the rental car – so I can buy some snacks to hide in my suitcase. I should have slipped some cheese and crackers into a napkin and stuffed them into my purse.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Ch 1 Sly thinks everyone else but him is stupid, which means his life must be so, so hard

 I finally have a chance to ask Primo about his dad when Doris leaves to start supper and Sly turns on the TV news.

Oh! Did you think Sly was going to help Doris with supper?

No! That is not happening! Preparing food is women’s work!

Me: What’s the deal with your dad? He’s convinced that there is no valid opinion but his. Is anyone who disagrees with him stupid by definition? Is he not capable of a rational discussion? Can’t there be a quiet, calm conversation about an issue without someone having to be labeled stupid or idiotic?

Primo: Nope. Only stupid people disagree with him. That’s the only logical reason for someone who doesn’t think the way my dad does. Come here. I want to show you something.

He leads me into his dad’s office, which contains a futon (no, I don’t know why and I really don’t know why Primo couldn’t sleep there if the spare room is too much hassle), two computers, and a lot of books and boxes of books and books stacked on top of each other. Books Sly had paid to move from Pittsburgh to Florida and hey, it’s his money, but dude, if you are retired, do you need to keep all of your professional books?

Primo: Look at this. 

He points to a framed cartoon hanging on the wall. It shows a man with a big nose, nose in the air, saying, “I’m not arrogant! I just happen to be right!” Only the “I’m” and “I” are covered by small pieces of paper taped on the glass that says, “We’re” and “We.”

Primo: I found this at a crafts fair. I laughed because it was my dad. He always raises his nose and sniffs like that. And he is so arrogant! Everyone else is always wrong. He won’t even consider other opinions. I bought it and had it framed and mailed it to him for his birthday. I thought he would think it was funny.

Me: Except your dad doesn’t seem to have a sense of humor, at least not about himself.

Primo: Nope. My mom said he got really mad when he opened it, so she taped the corrections on the glass. I’m surprised he just didn’t throw it away, but my mom probably wouldn’t let him. She thinks it’s really funny.

Me: Do your parents always cuss like that?

Primo: What do you mean?

Me: I mean the cussing! I mean their potty mouths! It’s not like I’m perfect, but I don’t talk like that in front of people I don’t know.

Primo: I never noticed.

Me: They cuss. I don’t know how you can’t notice. You don’t talk like that. You must have noticed at some point.

He shrugs. I guess he is immune.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Ch 1 I am GRATEFUL now that we rented a car and didn’t have to spend an hour trapped in Sly and Doris’ car listening to them complain

If they had picked us up from the airport, we would have had to listen to Sly and Doris talk about Stephanie, AKA Satan Incarnate, the entire time. They really hate her. Maybe she’s an awful person.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Ch 1 Sly and Doris continue criticizing Stupid People and I wonder how long before I am put on that list

 The conversation moves to Those Stupid Creationists.

Let me go on record that I don’t believe in creationism, but how one regards the beginnings of the earth is pretty irrelevant to everyday life. I would rather have a

·         non-recycling
·         eats only white rice and never brown rice
·         who eats all the pickled herring
·         watches bad TV
·         fundamentalist
·         creationist
·         bunny worshipper
·         who lights candles to the full moon and
·         who jabs pins in dolls who look like his enemies

living next door to me than

·         someone with a PhD in biology
·         who teaches at the local university
·         who is published
·         who always leaves his trash can on the sidewalk instead of bringing it in after trash day
·         who never cuts his grass, and
·         who leaves the dog poop in his back yard where I can smell it on hot days.

I have had those neighbors – the trash can on the sidewalk for days neighbors and the dog poop neighbors. I don’t know what they believed, but I do know they were bad neighbors. Who leaves so much dog poop in the back yard that you can smell it?

Give me someone who lives in a neighborly way – keeps his property neat and tidy so my property value is maintained, trains his dogs to be quiet even if that scary neighbor walks into her own back yard, doesn’t have frequent loud parties – and I’ll take someone who believes the moon is made out of green cheese over the super educated, super sophisticated jerk. What you believe does not matter as much as how you live.

Sly: We went to the gift shop at the park and they had creationism books for sale!

Me: So?

Clearly I am crazed with hunger and headache pain to even consider arguing with my boyfriend’s father the first time I meet him.

Sly: That’s crazy! Everyone knows creationism is wrong! What kind of asshole believes in creationism?

Asshole? He says “asshole?” “Asshole” is not a company word. It is not a word to be used when one meets people for the first time. It is not a word that I would say in front of him, for sure.[1]

Doris, however, is unfazed by his language. She nods in agreement as she sips her bourbon.

Sly: How can they even let them sell those books?

Me: What do you mean, “let them?”

Sly: It shouldn’t be allowed!

Me: This was a private store?

Sly:  Yes.

Me: But you want someone – I am assuming you mean the government – to dictate what they can sell? I mean, you want the government to dictate what people can say? Don’t you support the First Amendment?

Sly: Creationism is wrong.[2]

Doris nods again as she reaches for the bottle and pours herself another inch of bourbon. Maybe joining her is not such a bad idea. Does alcohol get rid of a migraine? My cousin Randy, on whom I had a massive crush when I was 12, only to discover later in life that he is gay, which made me sad for me, but really, did I have a chance with my own cousin, even if he is really a second cousin once removed or a third cousin or whatever it is when your mom and his dad are cousins?[3]

Anyhow. Randy swears by a regular Coke and two aspirin for his migraines. I should try that. With booze. Right now.

Me: Whether it’s right or wrong has nothing to do with it. Either you believe in freedom of speech or you don’t. You don’t get to decide based on content.

Sheesh. Aren’t Sly and Doris supposed to be the tolerant, sophisticated ones? Do I really have to explain the First Amendment to them?

Sly: They shouldn’t allow them to sell books that are obviously untrue.

The cheese cracker I am shoving into my mouth is clearly too late to address my blood sugar/judgment issues.

Me: Isn’t it better for bad ideas to be out there where they can be exposed?

Sly: They shouldn’t be allowed to sell things that are clearly wrong!

People have the right to be stupid. Should bookstores be allowed to sell books about astrology? It’s clearly crap. But do I care if someone else reads her horoscope every morning before making a move? Nope. Doesn’t hurt me at all, unless the horoscope is, “Don’t ever hire someone who has colored and cut her own hair after a job and a boyfriend loss.” Then I’m screwed because then, the stupid beliefs could affect me.[4]

The real issue is who gets to make these decisions. Who decides what is right and what is wrong? People like Sly – his personality, not his political affiliation – always know they would be the ones making those decisions. He would be running things were power to change hands. Which just goes to show he has a poor grasp of history. Except for the ones leading the revolution, intellectuals are usually the first to go. Didn’t he see The Killing Fields?

There is no point in arguing with him, so I shut up. How do you convince someone that it is a bad idea for the government to make those kinds of decisions when he is so sure that power would never be used against him?

My shutting up does not stop Sly from continuing to express his opinion.

[1] I am saying it to you guys because 1. I am anonymous and 2. I trust you. We are all friends here, right?
[2] Implied but not said out loud: “It’s just idiotic Christians who believe the crap their church tells them. Trailer-park cretins who don’t have any education and can’t think for themselves.”
[3] Plus, also – Falling For Gay Men. Who among us has not dated a man whom she later discovered was gay?
[4] Oh like you have never cut your own hair and then dyed it Clairol #22 Cinnaberry Red. Cast away, sinless long-haired, natural hair color people.