My mom turned 70 last winter.
Winter is not a good time to fly to Colorado, where she lives, unless you want to spend a lot of time in an airport, so we decided to postpone the celebration until nicer weather.
I didn't even know we would have a celebration but then my mom said she wanted one and the celebration she wanted was to have all her children and their SOs come to Colorado, drive to Durango, and take the narrow-gauge train from Durango to Silverton and back.
Which sounded great in principle and indeed was fun but when we were planning this event, I neglected to think through the "Durango is 350 miles from Colorado Springs"and "Colorado Springs is 1,000 miles from where Primo and I live" parts.
Which meant there was a lot of time spent sitting on our butts over the six days we were gone from home.
Which is totally not the point but may I say that my future brother in law, Bart, is a saint for having rented an SUV to get us all from Colorado Springs to Durango. I hate being in a car and I especially hate being in a car smashed up against other people and then throw in other people who want to talk for seven hours and you might as well give me a gun.
I love my family but man there is nobody who can press your buttons like the people who put them there.
I sat in the very back with my book and my peanut butter and jelly flavored almonds from the sale rack at Target and I was just fine. Mostly.
The big dilemma was what, if anything, to tell Sly and Doris.
1. Sly and Doris think my family is "not close" and therefore I, or at least Primo, should never spend any time with them.
2. Sly and Doris are about to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary and their 80th and 75th birthdays, respectively. What are we going to do for them? they ask.
3. If Primo takes any vacation time or does any traveling, it should be to visit them.
I advised Primo against telling them anything. "It will just tick them off," I said. "There is nothing to be gained from telling them about this."
"But what if they find out I lied to them?" he asked. "And what happens when I call them? We'll be on the train on Sunday and that's the day I usually call, so I'll have to call on Saturday and they'll want to know why."
I sighed. My mother does not cause such drama. My mother, weeks before we got to her house, was emailing me to ask if Primo liked banana bread and if Primo liked zucchini bread and if Primo liked breakfast tacos and what did Primo like to eat? What should she cook?
My mother believes in providing meals for her guests, unlike some people who think that just because they don't eat lunch, neither should anyone else.
Primo put off telling his parents and put it off and suddenly, we were in Colorado and he hadn't said anything and then we were taking the train trip on Sunday, which is when Primo calls Sly and Doris, so he wouldn't be able to call and they would get angry and send him a nasty email about how he doesn't even have time to call his own parents and they guess they just don't rate very highly in his life etc etc etc.
He gave them a prophylactic call on Saturday - "Just tell them you'll be doing something else on Sunday," I suggested.
"But what if they ask what I'll be doing?"
"Tell them you're doing something political. That will make them happy."
Primo was shocked. "But that would be a lie!"
I shrugged. "Sometimes you have to lie. If you tell them the truth, they'll get angry and they'll take it out on you. Even the Catholic Church has some doctrine about the lesser evil. Lying to them is definitely the lesser evil."
And then we were on the train and I was posting photos from the trip and tagging Primo and it wasn't until we were on the ride back that I realized that although I had asked Stephanie, who is our facebook friend, not to mention anything to Sly and Doris about the trip - "I never tell them anything about you," she said - Primo's half-brother Ted, who is a jerk and would happily say anything to Sly and Doris to upset them about Primo, might be able to see the posts on Primo's page. I have blocked Doris and Ted on facebook - as far as they are concerned, I do not exist there, but I didn't know if Ted could see a post from me with Primo in it.
I panicked for the two hours back to the house and then had Primo delete every post I had made about him.
He sent Sly and Doris a long email and then called them later in the week.
They have not found out about the trip. But if they do, there will be hell to pay.