December 2009 but not Christmas because remember we are not spending holidays with Sly and Doris and I mean it. Doris and I are having a conversation about her favorite foods when she was a little girl. I try to find neutral ground with her. She is a nice lady when we avoid politics and when Sly isn't around and she doesn't have to take his side.
Not that I would ask her to take my side against his. That's not fair. She has to live with him. She would pay the price for my small victory. If we lived down the block from them*, I would have it out with Sly, but for an annual visit, I do what I can to suck it up and keep the peace. As excruciating as that is.
I don't always succeed.
As you shall see.
So Doris is telling me about what her mother used to cook and Sly, even though he is in the other room, is interjecting his unasked for opinion and I am doing my best to ignore him. Doris cannot say one sentence without Sly correcting her. She says "bring" and he yells, "That's 'take,' honey," and she restates her sentence using "take" instead. Somehow, Senator Coburn comes up. Doris mentions that he is an OB. Sly yells, "He's a GYN, honey!" Oh, how I want to say, "Sly. He's both. He's BOTH." But I do not.
That evening, we go to Stephanie's for supper. As is his wont, Sly corrects the kids' grammar. Constantly. It's not like the kids sound as if they have never been to school. They are not saying, "ain't." Some of the things that Sly corrects are style choices. He is a retired English professor and is pickier than most. They are teenagers and speak slang. We all understand what they are saying.
It's when he nags Maria about saying the word "extract" as she is telling the story about making pizelles with Stephanie and how they made some with anise seed and some with lemon EXtract that I lose my temper. First, he says that she pronounces it "exTRACT" instead of "EXtract," which she did not, but second, even if she had, SO THE HECK WHAT?
We have this exchange:
Sly: You’re not the boss of me!
Me: You’re not the boss of her!
Sly: I’m her grandfather.
Me: I’m her aunt!
Sly: I’m a blood relative.
Me: I don’t care. Leave her alone.
Sly gets all mad and huffy, but we retreat to our respective corners and drop it.
On the drive back to Sly and Doris' house, Primo gets mad at me. "You didn't need to yell at my dad," he says.
"He started it," I say sullenly.
"You could have calmly said, 'Sly, is it really necessary for you to correct the kids' grammar like that?' or something. You're the one who escalated it right away."
"He's the one who was being a jerk first," I maintain stubbornly.
Primo sighs. "There will be a price for this."
I don't know why we have to walk around on eggshells all the time just because Sly is a big bully.
When we get back to the house, Sly summons Primo into his room. When Primo returns to our room, he tells me that Sly told him that he better keep me in line and that I should respect my elders and asked him why he let me boss him around.
"Did you tell him it's because I'm good in bed?" I say.
Primo sighs. "Just cool it, OK? I'm the one who's caught in the middle here."
I say, "Wait a second. If your dad has a problem with me, why doesn't he just talk to me? Wait! Wait! Your dad won't talk to me because he knows he can't push me around! Wait! Your dad is scared of me! OMIGOSH! I've spent all this time scared of your dad and he's scared of me!"
"Yeah, whatever," Primo says.
"No! This is good! I feel powerful! I feel great! I win. I win!"
And I do feel great. The next morning, my 12-day migraine is gone.
And Primo is happy because Primo?
Got a little reward of his own. If you know what I mean.
Power. Is an aphrodisiac.
* Not that that would ever happen.