Summer 2009 Sly calls. Or emails. Probably emails. They don't call us. We're supposed to call them. Well, Primo is supposed to call them. Not me. Why don't they call? Because they feel as if they are "interrupting." I don't know why they would get that feeling. Primo always answers their calls. Always. Always always always. He worries that if they are calling, it's because something is wrong. My philosophy is that is someone is dead, he'll still be dead in the morning, especially halfway across the country. Oh. Maybe it's because when they do call, they call at suppertime. Could that be it? Perhaps.
Primo is supposed to call them. If he doesn't make his weekly mandatory call, he gets a passive aggressive? angry? martyred? whiney? wondering if something is wrong, hoping everything is OK because honey, we didn't hear from you email. "I don't know why they just can't pick up the phone and call me for a change," he mutters.
Anyway. Sly's sister's husband has died. Sly wants to go to the funeral but traveling is tough for him. Will Primo go as the family representative?
Let me point out here that the last time Primo saw Uncle Joe and anybody from the family was two years ago at Uncle Tom's funeral.
The last time he saw Uncle Joe or Uncle Tom or any of the associated relatives before Uncle Tom's funeral was when he was in high school.
Primo tells me about the request. He is super busy at work.
"Why can't Ted go? He lives two hours from Uncle Joe," I point out. "He could go there and back in a day." If Primo goes, it will be a flight, a rental car, two nights in a hotel. His work will not stop. His father does not seem to understand this about Primo's job: that someone does not take over Primo's work when Primo takes time off. The work just accumulates, waiting for Primo's return.
Primo acknowledges the logic of my point and mentions it to his father.
"Ted says he can't afford it," Sly answers.
"Wait. Sly was prepared to spend the money to fly himself up there and get a car and a hotel but he can't send Ted $100 for the train?" I sputter.
Primo says, "My dad says that Ted isn't really part of our family. He wants me to represent them."
My head spins. "What does he mean, 'Ted isn't part of this family?' Isn't Joe Ted's uncle as much as he is yours?"
Primo shifts uncomfortably. "Yes."
"Your dad is a jerk," I say.
How can a father say something like that? "Ted isn't really part of this family?" What a horrible thing to say. As bad as telling Primo that Ted and Jack have been a great disappointment to Sly. You don't say things like that to your kids. You don't violate boundaries that way. You don't betray your children like that.
But Sly knows no boundaries. He is a master manipulator. Only you, Primo, are worthy. Only you, Primo, can save us. No, of course I can't send $100 to Ted to do this task. You must take $500 of your own money that could be spent on your mortgage and take two days of your own time and fly to the funeral.
You are the only one who can do this. Only you. You, Primo, the rescuer. Your brother can't possibly do this. If you don't do this, that means you don't really love us and haven't we suffered enough with your sister's mental illness and death? You owe us. You're healthy and alive, so you owe us. Plus you have betrayed us by marrying That Woman, so you have to do everything we want to make up for that.
Sly and Doris don't think that Primo's spending the money on plane fare, a car and hotel to go as their representative to a funeral for someone he saw once in the past 25 years counts as part of his obligation to them and I think it does, as does Primo.
I am still waiting for them to send us a check to pay for Primo's expenses.
I am not holding my breath.