Saturday, August 19, 2017

Ch 8 I mention to Stephanie that Primo and I are going to Pittsburgh but forget to tell her this in on the DL

Me: Hey girl!

Stephanie: Hi! ‘Sup?

Me: Primo and I are going to Pittsburgh.

Stephanie: Fun! Love that place!

Me: It’s for Pete’s dad’s funeral.

Stephanie: Sad. L Please give him my condolences. Never met him but P has talked about him so much I feel as if I do.

Me: OK. It will be fun except of course it’s a sad reason to go.

Stephanie: Didn’t S say nasty things about P’s dad? Both English professors. Not at same school.

Me: Yeah, Primo told me something. Sly said Pete’s dad was an intellectual lightweight—

Stephanie: all he cares about!

Me: I know! But he said that, even though Pete’s dad got his PhD at a better school and taught at a better school than Sly did!

Stephanie: Honestly. I do not get him.

Ch 8 Primo does not tell Sly and Doris that we are going to the funeral of his best friend’s father because he is worried Sly and Doris will get upset, not because Mr. L died but because they think Primo should not be wasting his time on the funerals of people he actually knows and likes

Primo has known his best friend, Pete, since our freshman year of college. He has known Pete’s dad almost that long. I met Pete’s dad at Pete and Julie’s big New Year’s Eve party last year, which I did not write about here because there are no opportunities (thank goodness) for snark when you visit people you really like and spend all your time cooking and eating good food.

Like Sly, Mr L was a retired English professor and an avid reader, so I spent a lot of time with him at the party talking about books.

Just like Sly and me.


Pete’s father died.

When your best friend’s father dies, you go to the memorial service if you can.

Primo : Can you take a few days off work to go to the funeral with me? I have miles for the plane tickets, Pete will pick us up at the airport, and we will stay with them, so it won’t cost us anything

Me: Yeah, I think I can.

Primo : I don’t think I should tell my mom and dad that we are going. They got so upset when I didn’t want to go to my uncle’s funeral.

Me: Sometimes lying is the best strategy.

Primo : And it’s not really a lie, is it?

Me: Nope. It is revealing information on a need to know basis only. This is a Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell issue.

Ch 8 Doris is upset that I did not answer her condolence note properly

Primo: My mom doesn’t like how you answered her email about your grandmother.

Me: What? What doesn’t she like? I was very cordial.

Primo: She says you didn’t answer her properly.

Me: Ummm… How does one properly respond to a sympathy note?

Primo: I don’t know.

Me: Let me send you the whole chain. I want your opinion.

Primo (reading): I don't know what she's talking about. Your answers look just fine to me.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Ch 8 I am not a good environmentalist but then, I don’t claim to be one, unlike Sly and Doris, who are passionate about the environment but run their air conditioning (with the patio door open) even in the nice Florida weather

Primo (as he peers into the shower, where I am bathing): Why do you have the windows open in the kitchen but the heat on here?

Me: Different conditions.

Primo : If you were willing to suffer, you could help reduce energy consumption.

Me: I'm willing for other people to suffer to reduce energy consumption. I am not willing to suffer.

Ch 8 Comment that I am a narcissist who does not respect her elders (PS I have a lot more than 78 readers)

You guys, apparently I have hit a nerve. Maybe Sly and Doris have found this blog after all? 

A reader left this comment:

I have been reading your blog, and you sound like a drama queen with no respect for elders. You are a bit deranged, and on too many drugs. I'd say you are narcissistic.

And this one:

You are a mean , self centered person with no respect for elders. It is a nice gesture for his parents to give you gifts. Also, the fact that you want them to pay for your plane tickets to visit his own parents shows how selfish you are. No wonder you only have 78 readers.

Ch 8 I thank Doris for her note about my grandmother even though as far as I am concerned – and I am a stickler for thank-you notes, as you have noticed, a thank-you note for a condolence note is not required

Dear Doris,

Thank you for your kind words about my grandmother. We were fortunate to have her as long as we did and for her to be independent and in good health almost her entire life.

Yes, I know what you mean about mothers and grandmothers not really getting a vacation. When we visited my grandmother, she spent her time cooking for everyone. She did not make blackberry pie, but we would pick raspberries (which ceases to be fun after about three minutes -- raspberry brambles are sticky and sharp) and she made raspberry jam or this fabulous raspberry dessert with merengue and whipped cream.
Even when she did not have company, my grandmother kept busy: church almost every morning, then to the PO to get the mail. She was part of the ladies' circle at church (they cooked for funerals and weddings) and helped care for my mom's schizophrenic cousin. She kept a huge garden, played cards at the senior center, made quilts for family and friends, and went to her painting classes. That woman had more energy! She put me to shame!
She was ready to go, though. She had friends at the nursing home but still missed her independence (who wouldn't?) and was still mad at my mom for taking her car keys. I am comforted by the fact that she is in heaven[1] with my grandfather and with other loved family and friends and I know I will see her again someday. (But not too soon, I hope.)

[1] Yep. Mentioned heaven on purpose. I know. I am a bitch. Whatever.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Ch 8 Sly asks Primo to figure out how to return the watch Primo bought for him and I want to be ticked off about Sly’s burdening Primo with things Sly should figure out for himself, but then I realize that Sly is not being completely unreasonable, which makes me cranky to admit – darnit, Sly! But then Sly creates the second problem all for himself and still wants Primo to fix it

Primo buys a watch to Sly from a flash sale site. Woot ships the watch to Sly.

The watch doesn’t work.

Sly, who is retired and is, may I remind you, The Smartest Man in the World, does not try to deal directly with woot. Instead, he asks Primo to deal with it.

Sly wants Primo to help him return the watch that Primo ordered for him.

OK. Maybe I can see that for a parent who is not technically proficient and who did not place the order in the first place, meaning he didn’t necessarily have access to all the order and ship information.

If it were my mom in this situation, I would help her. I guess it’s not so unreasonable for Sly to ask for help. Man, I hate to admit that. Primo helps my mom with her computer, even though she has an associate’s degree in computer science. Oh I hate this! I hate not being able to be completely righteously indignant about something Sly has done.

Primo contacts woot, gets a shipping label, and forwards the link for the label to Sly.

Sly opens the link, prints the label, prepares the package, and mails it.

The package is returned to Sly with a note from the USPS: The bar code was wrinkled and unreadable.

Sly tries to print another label but the link has expired. Sly writes to Primo, "Please advise."

·         Is there really no procedure at the USPS to have someone process such a package manually? Would they really rather return a package to sender than read the address that accompanied the bar code? That is not efficient. I am not pleased with the USPS.
·         Is Sly, who is the Smartest Man in the World™, truly incapable of solving this problem by himself? Does he really have to delegate it to Primo?

If it were me, I would try these things:

·         Ask my postman if I can re-send for a human to read the address that is printed on the label next to the bar code.
·         Ask my postman if I can re-send with a new label without a bar code.
·         Email woot myself and ask what to do.

I would not ask Primo to solve the problem for me. I would think to myself, "I have a PhD from Michigan. I am super super smart. Doesn't everyone know that? I tell them that all the time. I am so smart that I can figure this out by myself. I am not going to ask my son, who has only a BS – he doesn’t even have a master’s degree! – to solve this problem for me because he is probably not smart enough."

What I suspect Sly thinks is, "Why should I do this work? I will see if I can get Primo to do it for me, even though I don't do anything all day but watch porn online and drink."

Primo emails woot. He forwards the response from woot to his dad with the note, "Dad, this should be enough information for you to return the watch. The customer service email and the order number are included in this note."

Seriously. The Lazy!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Ch 8 Doris sends a nice note about my grandmother

Dear Goldie,

Please accept our sincerest condolences on your grandmother's passing.

I only knew my paternal grandmother who baked scrumptious blackberry pies on her old-fashioned range (Grandpa collected fresh blackberries but did little else to contribute to family endeavors).  My parents and I visited her and my grandfather every summer when I was a child.  She and my mother spent most of the time we visited cooking and cooking to host and socialize with all my Dad's relatives (two brothers/families and several aunts/uncles and their families). The location was Belleville, IL, not far from St. Louis, MO.

We all sweltered in the 90 degree heat and high humidity in my grandparents second floor.  I often think about my mother's role there and how she never experienced a "vacation."  Nonetheless, the experience was "family" and I am grateful to have been a part of that.

They were both deceased by the time I was twelve.  My maternal grandmother died the year my parents were married (1935).  Since I didn't happen until 1938, I lost the chance to know her.

Sly’s maternal grandparents died before he was born--the paternal "grands" are a vague memory and were never close to him.  They passed early in his life.

It is wonderful that you had a close relationship with your grandmother.  Grandmothers and mothers are very special--my mother's birthday was today.  I still miss her so. She loved me beyond measure and had the same total love for Primo and Nancy.  At this moment my tears are flowing.

I'll be in touch further and soon. I promised Primo to send you some zucchini recipes we've enjoyed.  Will do soon.



Ch 8 We argue about how to do the trash and I refrain from pointing out that Primo’s trash obsession, although directed differently, might be as bad as Sly’s

Me: Stop mashing the trash into the trash can. It makes it really hard to get the bag out.

Primo: You got it out, right?

Me: Yes, but it's a pain in the neck.

Primo: But it's important to fit as much trash as possible.

Me: No, it's not. It costs what - one and a half cents a bag?

Primo: No! It's a lot more expensive!

Me: Three cents.

Primo: More than that. Five dollars a box, so maybe a dime a bag.

Me: Oh no. A fortune. It’s my money. I get to decide.

Primo: It adds up.

Me: Says the man who buys cookies at the store rather than making them himself. I think I can afford it.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Ch 8 Sly does not like the Father’s Day card that Primo sends him

Primo: I called. I got it over with.

Me: What did your dad say about the Father’s Day card?

Primo: I asked if he got it.

Me: Yes?

Primo: And he said that he had. I had to bring it up.

Me: Did he think it was funny?

Primo: No. He said it was a "love/hate" card.

Me: What? He said that? About the card you sent him?

Primo: Yes.

Me: Remind me. What was on the card again?

Primo: A family in a station wagon with the dad saying, "If you don't knock it off, I am going to stop this car."

Me: Well. I can see why he was offended.

Primo: I thought it was funny. My mom thought it was funny.

Me: Apparently, everyone who was on the review committee at Hallmark thought it was funny or they never would have produced it.

Primo: Yep. My dad does not have a sense of humor.

Me: Nope. And he is not nice, either.

Primo: Maybe I shouldn't have sent it.

Me: Yes, you should have. It's funny and light and it's not offensive and frankly, it's important to stand up to tyrants occasionally. You and I are usually powerless against him because he will take it out on your mom, but every now and then, you have to assert yourself a little.

Primo: Yep.

Me: You are not like your dad.

Primo: No I am not.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Ch 8 My grandmother dies and Primo and I go to the funeral

Not the happiest of occasions, but my grandmother was 97. She lived a good life, surrounded by people she loved, and people think of her and smile.

We fly to Minneapolis, drive to Medford, and gather the day before at my aunt Rita’s house to cook for the funeral. My aunts and cousins are there. Primo joins us making dinner rolls and strudel and rhubarb bars.

Nobody will go hungry on my family’s watch.

The funeral is crowded. Not too shabby for a small-town funeral. Full church, full lunch afterward.

PS There is no licking of the cheeks. I think my cousin is reformed. Good.

And now it’s time for one of my favorite jokes.

The Ole and Lena Funeral Food Joke

Ole was on his deathbed. Pastor Inqvist had been there to give him the last rites and had left. Ole was lying in his bed, waiting to die. It is very boring waiting to die.

Lena had gone downstairs.

Ole noticed a wonderful fragrance wafting up from the kitchen. Could it be? Could it possibly be his favorite rhubarb bars? His favorite dessert in the whole wide world?

"Lena!" he tried to call, but his voice was too weak and he sounded like the guy in the Man Cold video who croaks out, "Laura!" but she can't hear him.

He spent a few minutes recovering from the attempt to call Lena, then made a decision. He tried to sit up, but he was too weak. Too weak to sit up in bed.

So he rolled. He rolled over out of bed and fell to the floor.

He spent a few minutes resting, then began to crawl, one painful, slow inch at a time to the stairs.

Once he got to the stairs, he rested for a few minutes, then turned around so his feet were facing down and bumped his way down the stairs on his butt, one stair at a time.

When he reached the bottom, he rested, then rolled over onto his stomach and crawled into the kitchen. He got to the island and painfully pulled himself up to the counter, where Lena had cut the rhubarb bars and placed them on a plate.

He reached for one, grabbed it, and was about to take a bite when Lena walked into the kitchen. She ran to him, shocked, slapped his hand, and said, "Ach, Ole! Shame on you! Dose are for after da funeral!"

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Ch 8 Sly is upset that I am taking Primo away from them because if it weren’t for me, Primo would live with them in Florida or, at the least, spend every single holiday with them and all of his vacation

Primo: My mom is not feeling well. My dad is upset. At you.

Me: What did I do now?

Primo: You are taking me away from them.

Me: How?

Primo: Umm… Because I don’t live with them? I don’t know. I think he expected me to visit them for Mother’s Day and my birthday.

Me: I’m sure they would have enjoyed that.

Primo: But that’s not how I wanted to spend that time. He says you do not respect them. He is also angry that I will not – his words – take control of our relationship and get you in line. He says if I don’t get you in line, he will disinherit me.

Me: I thought your dad was an ultra-leftist. That is not a very liberal attitude. It’s definitely not feminist.

Primo: My dad is not a feminist lefty. He picks and chooses the parts he likes.

Me: A cafeteria lefty?

Primo: Exactly! Anyhow, he says he is “hurt” – no, “deeply hurt” that you do not have a relationship with them.

Me: I write letters to your mother. Which I should not have to. My relationship is with you, not with your parents. My mother doesn’t get pissy that you are not writing letters to her. What exactly are the responsibilities that they think go along with being a girlfriend?

Primo: Well, they are pretty sure I am going to marry you—

Me: Unless they can convince you not to.

Primo: Yes. And they probably think that if they don’t get you in line now that it won’t ever happen.

Me: I do write to your mother. Against my will. Because you want me to because you feel sorry for her.

Primo: Yes, but you don’t acknowledge him in the letters. He says you don’t even acknowledge that he exists.

Me: I don’t feel sorry for your dad and neither do you. It’s your mom I am trying to have a relationship with because I feel so bad for her and because you have asked me to. But your dad? Nope. I am not going to bother. He’s not worth it.

Primo: My mom is not doing well. My dad says that she is hardly eating and gets most of her calories from alcohol and that she has the runs all the time.

Me: I think that might be dangerous. Isn’t that a symptom of severe alcoholism?

Primo: I am really worried about her. It looks like she'll go first. But then what do we do with my dad?

Me: Maybe we bring him up here to live with us.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Ch 8 Doris goes on Facebook and doesn’t like Primo’s profile and once again, uses quotation marks around random words – is she trying to be ironic?

Doris sets up a Facebook account and finds Primo’s profile. (She did not try to friend me, although LinkedIn, if you don’t quit spying on my emails and suggesting that I connect with my boyfriend’s parents, who have made their dislike of me very clear, I am going to – to – well, something bad.)

BlessHerHeart, Doris does not understand the concept of online privacy and things like identify theft. She writes to Primo,

We got to your FACEBOOK page because of your email on Elizabeth Warren. Your dad doesn't "do" anything "facebook" but he did read through some of your information.  Strange that you don't list your parents or half-brothers as family members.

Your bio should also mention that you were born in Michigan.  You also have January 1 listed as your birthday (?).[1]

[1] Not his birthday. Because you know - identity theft.

Ch 8 Sly and Doris sue the hospital over Doris’ broken wrist

Remember how Doris broke her wrist? Remember that she was in the hospital visiting Sly (honestly, I would have not let anyone or anything pry me out of that house while Sly was confined to a hospital bed – I would have been rejoicing at having some peace and quiet) and she fell and broke her wrist, which was awful for her because she is already so frail and has such a hard time with things and she sure didn’t need an injury?

Do you see all the peace and quiet and Alone in this photo? I do and it makes me smile.

She and Sly sued the hospital. They sued for Doris’ pain and suffering.

And they sued for loss of consortium.

Me: Just how much consortium does a man your dad’s age have? What's that loss worth - a dollar?

Primo: My dad wanted to tell me all about it.

Me: No boundaries. What is it with your dad? Honestly!

Primo: Oh, it’s not just him. Ted is just like that. And so is Jack.

Me: What do you mean?        

Primo: Jack told me that he has to get manscaped.

Me: What’s that?

Primo: You know – shaved. Sculpted. Like a Brazilian for a guy.

Me: But why?

Primo: Because he’s divorced now and has re-entered the dating world.

Me: Not why did he do it? Why did he tell you about it? Why do they tell you these things?

Primo: Don’t you talk about this kind of thing with your mom and your sister?

Me: No! No! I do not! Nobody in my family has ever asked me if I’ve seen Deep Throat. Nobody in my family has ever discussed the state of her pubic hair with me. Nobody in my family has ever discussed sexual practices with me.

Primo: That’s because you are from a repressive Catholic family.

Me: Nope. Not repressive. Just appropriate. My parents got those Time-Life books about the reproductive system and taught us about sex – in an age-appropriate way – when I was in second grade. I’ll bet your mom and dad didn’t do that. By the time we had sex ed in sixth grade – in my CATHOLIC school – I already knew all that stuff.

Primo: I don’t remember if my parents talked to me about sex – I mean, the sex education kind. But I’ll bet your mom and dad didn’t talk to you about the non-clinical aspects.

Me: Like what?

Primo: You know – about if pre-marital sex is OK, about birth control.

Me: You think my parents were prudes? My mom got pregnant on her honeymoon and got pregnant again a few months after I was born. They were getting busy.

Primo: You’re the one who didn’t want to share a bedroom with me at my mom and dad’s.

Me: Yeah! Because I didn’t even KNOW them! And because no boyfriend’s parents had ever suggested that before. Nobody I know does that. Nobody.

Primo: My parents think you’re a prude.

Me: Whatever. I don’t care what they think about me and I really don’t care to know what they think about my sex life. And as far as my parents being prudes – my dad and I were packing the car the night before he and my mom were going to drive me to Houston to start college. I was seventeen. My dad says, super casually, “By the way, if you’re going to get laid, use protection.”

Primo: What did you say?

Me: I was shocked! “Dad!” I said. “You know I don’t believe in pre-marital sex!”

Primo laughs.

Me: Well, I didn’t! I had been taught you wait for marriage. It is not that unusual for people who go to church to believe that kind of thing. I guess your mom and dad think that everyone should be having sex all the time, even if they are teenagers.

Primo: My dad for sure thinks he should be having sex all the time. He was really ticked at his loss of consortium.

Me: He probably has more consortium than you and I do.

Primo: Yeah, well it's easy to have time and energy for consortium when you are retired and your wife does all the housework and cooking and you don't do anything all day but sit on your butt and watch porn. But he wants more than he gets, probably.

Me: How much does your mom want?

Primo: Not as much as he does. Probably not any. The way my dad picks at her--

Me: I know. He is always criticizing her and then getting annoyed when she gets upset.

Primo: Yep. He says she is too thin-skinned.

Me: Your dad is a jerk. Yeah, your mom is a little sensitive, but your dad is mean to her. I don’t think she is over-reacting to get annoyed when he criticizes her.

Primo: He tells her she is not doing it right.

Me: She is not his project. Lord have mercy. It is not his job to fix her.

Primo: He criticizes everything she does – about supper being cold and things like that.

Me: Maybe he could cut her a little bit of slack. Nobody said, “Sly! You are not allowed to cook ever.”

Primo: He doesn’t think that’s his job. One time when I was there, I asked my dad to help me put away the laundry that I had done. My mom was taking a nap and I thought we could at least fold the clothes and put away the kitchen things while she was asleep. He didn’t know where anything went.

Me: How long have they been married?

Primo: Almost fifty years.

Me: And he doesn’t know where the kitchen towels go?

Primo: He said he didn’t know where my mom’s clothes go, either.

Me: And he didn’t even think this was a problem he could solve by say, opening the drawers and cupboards and looking for like items?

Primo: Nope. He thinks that’s my mom’s job.

Me: And yet he considers himself a good liberal.

Primo: Well, he’s liberal for himself. Not for other people.

Me: Your mom was probably thinking that the only good thing about her broken wrist was that it was getting her out of consortium.

Primo: You're probably right.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Ch 8 Primo is shocked that I would polish his shoes and I remind him I am not doing it in a, “This is women’s work and I subjugate myself to you” way but am just seeking efficiencies from the setup for polishing shoes, which is the big hassle of it all

Primo: You'll really polish my shoes?

Me: Sure. Why not? I’m doing mine. Bring yours over. Once my hands are dirty with the polish, I might as well keep going.

Primo: In my house, that was always my dad's job.

Me: Funny. At my house, that was always my job.

Primo: But that's men's work.

Me: There was no such thing as men's work or women's work at our house.

Primo: Well, it was never specifically said, but it was just understood.

Me: Nope. The chores were rotated at our house. We took turns doing dishes, mowing the grass, taking out the trash, cleaning the bathroom.

Primo: Not at our house.

Me: Isn't it funny that the intellectual, enlightened, superior liberals are the ones who had the men's and women's work and the backwards religious rigid military conservatives are the ones who had non-gendered work?

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Ch 8 But I send an email to Doris anyhow because you know – boyfriend’s mother, sugar vs vinegar, bridges rather than walls, material for the blog, etc., etc., etc.

Dear Doris and Sly,

Doris, Primo mentioned you were concerned[1] that I hadn’t eaten the night we made the (delicious!) onion rings. (Thanks again for teaching me – it does indeed seem to be all in the wrist!)[2]

It is so kind of you to worry about me. Did he explain that I was – ahem – helping myself as I was cooking? I don’t know if there is anything tastier than a hot, salty onion ring right out of the fryer! By the time I sat down at the table, I was quite satisfied. Believe me, I ate well that night.

How is the front garden doing? I hope none of those weeds returned. We sure spent enough time trying to kill them.

I was trying to think of some books that might keep you up all night reading and make you sad when you are through. Have you ever read “Lonesome Dove” (Larry McMurtry)? It is amazing.

Even Primo liked the story. We watched the miniseries. (I read the book years ago.) He said he didn’t want to watch “a stupid Western,” so I suggested we watch just one episode of the miniseries. We ended up staying in the entire weekend to watch the rest. I think you might like it.

Be well!


[1] Do I need the sarcasm flag for you guys for the “concerned?”
[2] And I worry, as always, that I might be using too many exclamation points and that Sly will return my note with red marks and a big fat “F” across the top.

Ch 8 But then I realize that I am completely wrong because Doris is upset that I didn't eat the onion rings and I am a bad onion ring eater and I realize there might not be any way to win this game

Primo: My mom was upset that you didn't eat her onion rings at supper.

Me: What? Why?

What he says is true. I didn’t eat the onion rings at supper. I ate them while I was cooking them. They’re only really good in the minute or two after they come out of the hot fat. Once they’re cold and the fat congeals, they are nasty. But hot and salty fat? Oh that’s good.

Me: She said something?

Primo: Yes.

Me: The onion rings she insisted on having and that I had to make because she was too tired to stand for half an hour and I couldn’t watch an old lady suffer like that?

Primo: Yes.

Me: She's been stressing about this since Christmas?

Primo: Yes.

Me: Why?

Primo: She thinks you didn't like them.

Me: So what? What if I didn’t? There is nothing in the contract that the girlfriend/someday wife to be of the son has to like everything the mother cooks.

Primo: She says she is reaching out to you and you keep rejecting her.

Me: I have been trying! I have been trying to be nice to her! What else am I supposed to do? She’s upset because I didn't eat her onion rings? Her onion rings are a form of reaching out? And I rejected her because I didn’t eat them?

Primo shrugs.

Me: Do you think maybe your mom is just a little bit self-centered?

Primo: I don’t know.

Poor Primo. He's the one who is actually related to them. I have the luxury of getting to be dramatic, loud and indignant.

I am the voice for the voiceless. I am the guide in the darkness, the tall figure holding the torch aloft, assuring those who would approach me that yes, what they are hearing is insane and outrageous and they are right to wonder if perhaps there is a different reality out there.

If you grow up with The Crazy, The Crazy becomes The Normal. You don’t know that Crazy <>Healthy/Functional because you see nothing else. It feels bizarre, but perhaps that’s how life is supposed to feel.

I am the beacon. I am the lighthouse, guiding the Victims of The Crazy into the Shore of the Place Where Parents Do Not Scream at Their Grandchildren for Eating the White Meat and Do Not Get Angry When the Son’s Girlfriend Does Not Eat Enough Onion Rings.

Poor Primo. He has the hard part. I get the Righteous Indignation. Is there anything better than valid, righteous indignation? Oh, to be wronged in a way that is so wrong but yet, really, so unaffecting? I mean, WHO CARES IF I ATE THE ONION RINGS? A delicious wrong that doesn’t really hurt but validates your opinion of the crazy people who are wronging you? A wrong that lets you rant and rave and nobody can say you are unjustified in feeling wronged? I love that feeling.

Me: Is it possible that one, I ate a whole bunch of onion rings while I was frying them, WHICH I TOLD HER AT SUPPER, or two, I just wasn't that hungry because I was taking migraine drugs that kill my appetite? Or three, maybe I don't like onion rings and if I don't SO WHAT? And guess what? None of these possibilities have anything to do with your mother! None of them! Why is she trying to make this about her? It's not always about her!

Yes, I am over-reacting.

But so is Doris.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Ch 8 Doris thanks me for the knives and I think perhaps we are getting back on good footing

Dear Goldie,

Primo's assurances were correct.  Your email thank you was quite enough.  I still cling to the old-fashioned hand-written ideal but realize that most of the citizenry has "modernized." 

I want you to know that I "LOVED" the knives. You were quite perceptive to notice that our cutlery had passed its “sell by” date. I find cutting and chopping quite challenging these days. Sharp new knives are making meal preparation much easier. Many thanks!



Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Ch 8 Doris complains I didn't spend enough time with her and I am sad thinking there is no way this problem could have been resolved when Primo and I were actually at their house

Primo: My mom is upset that you did not talk to her about her gardening magazine.

Me: What is she talking about?

I am washing mustard greens for supper and am only halfway paying attention.

Primo: She says she had a gardening magazine right there on the coffee table and you should have seen it and asked her about it.

Me: Am I supposed to be a mind reader? I was supposed to know this?

Primo: I guess so.

Me: She couldn’t have brought it up? She couldn’t have said, “Goldie, you might be interested in these gardening magazines I have?”  

I put the greens on the cutting board and whack them with the butcher knife. I whack them hard.

Me: I mean, I am trying with your mom. I have written to her twice since we got back. I ask her about stuff. I do nasty chores when we are there. I didn’t know I was supposed to be able to read her mind. Is there anything that’s not my fault?

Primo: Not really.

He backs away from the counter and a possibly errant knife. He doesn’t need to worry. I haven’t lost anyone yet. I havent even lost any digits, although I occasionally have need for a Band-Aid and some superglue.

As I stir the greens into the melting bacon grease and salt them, I finish my rant and return to the actual issue. No matter how maddening Sly and Doris’ comments are, I get a perverse satisfaction from finding the lunacy in their accusations.

Me: So what else did she complain about? Did they tell you not to marry me again?

Primo: They did not bring it up.

Me: They are probably hoping you will come to your senses and ditch me.

Primo: Probably. They probably learned with (ex-wife) that telling me not to marry someone is not the right approach. Anyhow, she says you didn't spend enough time with her.

Me: I was with your mother every single waking hour we were there except for when I went to Stephanie's, when I went running, when we went to church, which doesn’t count because they were asleep anyhow, and the couple of hours we took the kids bowling. Other than that, I was with your mom. That wasn't enough for her?

Primo: She says she is trying to reach out to you and you're pushing her away.

Me: Fine. Fine. I will try harder. I just wish I knew what the rules were.


Monday, August 7, 2017

Ch 8 I thank Doris for the present I do not want and intend to donate to Goodwill

You want to know how one writes a thank-you note for a vase that one is about to donate to Goodwill?

Watch and learn, grasshopper.

Dear Doris and Sly,

Primo assures me that an emailed thank you note is just fine, even though I maintain that a handwritten note on paper and sent via the USPS is the proper way to thank somebody for a gift she has bothered to select. But he knows you better than I do and if says this is OK, I will surrender.

Thank you for vase. I usually end up sticking flowers I cut from my garden into water glasses. An actual vase is far more appropriate. I am sure I will be getting a lot of use from this one very soon!

By the way, the cat-obsessed son of yours placed the cast-iron cat on the floor in front of his fireplace. It looks very natural.

Thanks again,


It’s a little scary how easy it is for me to lie, although I guess I am not a good enough liar to make Doris and Sly think I approve of them. I have got to work on that.[1]

I am not good enough at lying, however, to express any degree of thanks on Primo’s behalf of the framed – with the option of one of two frames – photo of Sly and Doris looking very stern. If I were mean, I would have written, “The photo you gave Primo is stuck inside a drawer in his spare room. I will let you know if he ever puts it up. He does, by the way, have several photos of his stepdaughters, of his grandparents, of his sister, and of the two of us together in his living room, his office, and his bedroom. So it’s not that he isn’t interested in having photos around. He just doesn’t want photos of you."

But I am not that mean.

And it is not my job to write Primo’s thank-you notes.[2]

[1] Note to self: Really? Do I really need to work on making them think I approve of them? What would happen if they continued to think – if they knew that they are not my favorite people? As long as I am polite and cordial, do I need to do more? I really want to know the answer to this question. What is the proper way to approach this problem? What does morality demand of us?
[2] It is not even ever the job of the wife to write the husband’s thank-you notes. It is certainly not the job of the girlfriend.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Ch 8 Doris emails Primo that she doesn’t know how to make me approve of them and I am all, “WHAT??” because seriously, people, my dislike and disapproval (do I disapprove of them? Maybe – I disapprove of screaming at dinner guests) of them is not the issue here. I have not failed to feed my houseguests and I have not asked my houseguests to do all the crap work at my house and I have never screamed at anyone for taking all the white meat or even for taking all the dark meat

She writes,

I know you resent coming here and doing our chores. Dad and I share the belief that you are saint-like in your concern and help to us. Tending the awful jobs of caulking our shower and dealing with the cat box area were especially appreciated. The fact that you took over almost all the kitchen/cooking chores still puts me in tears--I love you so much. I am happy that you are happy. I regret that I don't know how to woo Goldie into some approval of us.

·         I need to be a better actress. I thought I was concealing my feelings. I behave properly – I help out, I do not argue, I smile, I am agreeable. On the surface, I am nice to them. And I really do try to find common ground with Doris – gardening, cooking. I have failed.
·         At the gym, I overheard a woman complaining about her daughter in law keeping her son away from her. I wanted to tell her that maybe she is the one keeping the son away - that maybe if it was pleasant for the son and DIL to visit, they might want to come. “Don’t make them clean the cat poop off the walls,” I wanted to say, “and don’t expect them to do work you can hire someone to do. And most important – be nice to the DIL. That’s really all you have to do – be nice to her.”

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Ch 8 The cast-iron cat in context

It is indeed real.

Ch 8 Sly and Doris thinks Michael is working really hard just to buy pot and I ask, Is that wrong? (OK, yes, I know it’s illegal, but morally? Is it wrong to smoke pot as long as you don’t hurt anyone else? I don’t think so)

Primo: My mom and my dad are upset because even though Michael and Maria were home over break, they didn’t visit except for Christmas dinner. My dad says they were too busy working and took every shift they could get.

Me: Except for the afternoon they went bowling with us. They like to hang out with us.

Primo: That’s because we don’t scream at them.

Me: Maybe we should. It does seem to be the way.

Primo: They didn’t go see my mom and dad at all after Christmas, even though they just went back to school today.

Me: What? The kids didn’t want to return to the Scene of the Crime of the White Meat?

Primo: Nope.

Me: And also? Don’t they complain that the kids spend foolishly? That they act like there is a – and I quote – money tree? Shouldn’t they be glad that they both have are working? It sounds like they have a good work ethic.

Primo: They think Michael is working only to have money to buy pot.

Me: OK, first, if that’s why he’s working, more power to him. I mean, I don’t think it’s a good idea for him to be breaking the law – it’s risky – but if smoking pot is the worst thing he is doing, that’s not too bad. Second, maybe he is working because – I don’t know – he has a girlfriend? He has expenses at college? Because he wanted to buy nice Christmas presents for his family?

Primo: Or maybe the kids just don’t want to be screamed at. Maybe that’s why they are not visiting my mom and dad.

Me: Yeah, maybe!

Ch 8 Sly asks for a refund on the salad he ate more than half of yesterday

Stephanie: You won’t believe what S did!

Me: What?

Stephanie: They’ve been really nice helping me out driving Michael to work. He’s working over break at that fast-food place he was working at last summer. I’m not out of work early enough to take him. So I have to give them credit for that. But S took M to work and ordered a big salad for his supper. He took it home and he and D ate half then decided they didn’t like it. So S took it back today and asked for his money back! It was half eaten!

Me: You are joking! If it was so bad, why did they eat half of it?

Stephanie: M was so embarrassed because of course S shouts into the loudspeaker, “This is M’s grandfather.”

Me: Did they refund his money?

Stephanie: Yes!

Me: Since when do you get a refund on food you just don’t like? And that you have eaten half of?

Stephanie: I don’t know. If it had gone bad, that would have been one thing. But they just didn’t like it!

Friday, August 4, 2017

Ch 7 I write Doris a letter about a cooking class I attend

Because I just don’t know what to say about their Christmas letter but I want to be nice to her

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Ch 7 Primo gets Sly and Doris’ form Christmas letter and the last paragraph is a doozy and even though it is completely irrelevant, I wonder about the random quotation marks – is there a code I am missing?

Our nation, from my perspective, is in a precarious state with little hope of immediate or near term fixes. I believe our political system is too broken for either "party" to remedy, and the ideological extremists make the situation worse with each passing day. I can't afford to waste my vote by staying away from the polls, but casting a vote for (candidate X) will be painfully necessary because (candidate Y’s) vision and personal profile portend a bleak and frightening alternative.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Ch 7 Primo wants to know why I won’t be BFF with Doris and I feel sad for Doris, mean for not wanting to be her friend, and then kind of annoyed that I am being put in this position, because a woman in her 70s who doesn’t have friends – that’s on her, not on me

Primo: Why aren’t you nicer to my mom?

Me: What do you mean? I am nice to her. I cleaned her refrigerator. I helped with the cooking. I tried to have conversations with her. I made the broccoli her way, even though her way is wrong and wasteful. I did not argue with her. I did not argue with your dad, even when he was being a screaming jerk. I pulled weeds from her garden. I cleaned her garage. What else should I do?

Primo: You're not sympathetic to her.

Behold the face of a person with an ice-cold heart.

 Me: Yes I am. I think her life stinks.

Primo: But you are not her friend.

Me: I can’t be the person who she tells all her secrets to and who comforts her.

Primo: Why not?

Me: Because that is way out of scope for our relationship! I can be friendly, but I can’t be her friend. I can’t be the person she calls to complain about your dad to. I cannot reassure her out of her loneliness and desperation and anger.

Primo: She doesn't have any friends.

Me: I can’t fix that. I can be friendly – and I am – and I can be nice to her – and I try to be – but I cannot be her confidante. It’s inappropriate. She shouldn’t tell me intimate things about her life. There are things I shouldn’t hear.

Primo: She tells me that kind of thing.

Me: Exactly! She shouldn’t be telling you, either! I don’t ever want her to tell me about their sex life. Or about how unhappy she is. Just the idea of it makes me really uncomfortable. I don’t talk about that kind of thing with my own mother. Why would I talk about it with yours?

Primo: But she is so lonely.

Me: I know and I feel bad for her – her life is awful, but a friendship doesn’t consist of one person listening to the other person complain all the time. Your mom is so needy and I just don’t want to be the person she leans on.

Primo: You listen to your sister and your friends complain.

Me: Yeah, but they've already banked good times with me. By the time they get to the whining, they have built up a balance. Plus, it's a reciprocal relationship. I whine back to them. I am not going to whine to your mother.

Primo: You could be nicer.

Me: I think perhaps you have a different idea of boundaries from me.

Primo: Maybe.

Me: I mean, you are an adult child of alcoholics and you had a seriously ill sibling. That can mess things up.

Primo: Maybe.

Me: I have no issues like this with my family. None. You have met them. I hesitate to use the word “normal,” but I feel safe saying that my family is relatively emotionally healthy.

Primo: Mine is not.

Me: I have noticed.

Primo: I just want my mom to be happy. You see how my dad ignores her when she talks. She was so stressed when you were cleaning the refrigerator and he didn’t say a thing to her. He is not nice to her. He’s a bully. He won’t drive her to book club. He never wants to have anyone over. He gets angry when she doesn’t get supper ready fast enough. He doesn’t help around the house. He picks at her all the time. When he’s not talking, he’s seething. She has a miserable life.

Me: I know. You know you can’t make her happy, right?

Primo: I can try.

Me: OK. I will try harder. I will write letters to her and engage with her more when we visit. But you owe me.

Primo: I know.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Ch 7 A good recipe we could have made instead of the Cream of Shrimp stuff and that might have prevented Sly’s blowup – it’s that good

Because I care about you, I am going to share this fabulous recipe I found online. It is delicious. It is better than Doris’ Cream of Shrimp dip. Way better. I know it sounds weird, but it is divine.

1 (8 ounce) package of cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1- 1 1/2 cups chopped dill pickles
1/4 cup finely chopped sweet onion
2- 4 tablespoons pickle juice (use less for thicker dip or more for thinner dip)
1 teaspoon dried dill weed
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Use a wooden spoon to press into the cream cheese then stir until loosened up and smooth. Stir in all of the remaining ingredients until evenly distributed. Transfer to a serving dish and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.

This dip is good for up to a week when stored tightly covered in the refrigerator. It may become thinner as the week draws to an end.

Ch 7 Sly blows up about the white meat and accuses Stephanie of being a bad mother but says nothing about Jack being a bad father

Primo and I are making lunch/supper/whatever you call the holiday meal that is eaten in the afternoon after Sly and Doris have started drinking.

Doris tells Primo, in great detail, how to make the creamed onions, which of course is nothing more than

·         Open the can of tiny onions and
·         Mix it with the can Campbell’s Cream of Shrimp soup that we brought from Texas to Florida.
·         Throw in some booze

I just googled for the recipe so I could share it with you and can’t find anything like that.

I did, however, find a recipe for cream of something soup, chopped onions, celery, and cream cheese. Once you throw cream cheese[1] into the mix, there is no way you can fail. Maybe that’s what she is having Primo make, except she left out the chopped onions and celery. It still isn’t much more complicated than mixing the soup with the tiny onions. So why does someone need detailed instructions to mix everything together and warm it up?

Doris continues to drink while she micromanages the making of dinner from the living room.

Doris: Cut the stems off that broccoli.

Me: The stems are good.

Doris: They’re stringy.

Me: I can peel them. It seems a shame to waste all that food. I like the stems.

Doris: No, don’t do that. Just cook the crowns. That’s what Primo likes.

For Doris, everything is about what Primo likes. Primo is the sun and he eclipses everyone else around him. Only suns don’t cause eclipses. I don’t think. I was an English major. Don’t hold me accountable for scientific accuracy. But you know what I mean. Primo is the moon, eclipsing the sun. Primo is the only star (I do know that the moon is not a star) in the sky for Doris. Primo Primo Primo.

It doesn’t matter that I like the stems. I would eat the stems. I would be happy to eat the stems. I bite my lip and threw away perfectly good food, which just about kills me because I am from the Tribe of We Who Do Not Waste and throwing food away only happens if I have done a lousy job of inventory management and something has gone bad in the fridge. Other than that, I eat everything at my house.

I don’t waste food. I can hardly bear to waste bad food. I especially don’t waste food that I like. But – I am Making an Effort with Doris. I thought we were bonding – I thought we were getting somewhere. But this is a setback. She is making me waste food.

The doorbell rings and Stephanie and the kids walk in.

Stephanie: Hey girlfriend!

I give her a hug.

Stephanie: Hi Mom. How are you?

Even if I do marry Primo, I will never call Doris, “Mom.” I don’t get that. She’s not my mother. Why would I call her “Mom?”

Doris: Stephanie, what a lovely outfit you’re wearing! Those shoes are so attractive! And those colors look lovely on you.

Me: You do look cute.

Stephanie is dressed up in yellow slacks, yellow linen heels, and a peach and yellow blouse.

Stephanie: I need to wash my hands. Kids, ask your grandma what you can do to help.

While Stephanie is in the bathroom, Doris confides in me: Isn’t that a tacky outfit?

Me: I think she looks cute.

Doris: She can’t afford to buy new clothes. I don’t know where she is getting the money to fund her extravagant lifestyle.

Stephanie has not asked Sly and Doris for money – I would have known if she had, because they would have complained to Primo – and how she spends what she has is none of their business.

Stephanie: What can I do to help?

Me: Come help me. I am in the middle of the broccoli. She wants me to throw away the stems. That’s so wasteful. And I like that part.

Stephanie: She asked me to fix the broccoli once. I knew that no matter how I did it, she wasn’t going to like it, so I told her I didn’t know how.

Me: But you do, right?

Stephanie: Of course I do. It’s broccoli. How hard is it? My mother taught me to cook.

Me: So you just used that as an excuse?

Stephanie: Uh huh.

Brilliant! Why hadn’t I thought of that? “I’m so sorry, Doris, but I don’t know how to clean mildew off a door.” “I’m so sorry, Doris, I don’t know how to clean spilled food off a refrigerator shelf.” “I’m sorry, Doris, I don’t know how to put out the trash.” “I’m sorry, Doris, I don’t know how to pull weeds.”

Me: And she believed you? She believed you that you do not know how to make broccoli?

Stephanie: Yes.

Me: You’re kidding. She really and truly thinks you do not know how to prepare and cook a raw vegetable.

Stephanie: Yep. They think I am a complete idiot. Whatever. She and Sly have probably been telling people for years that I can’t even make broccoli, but whatever. I don’t care. I get tired of being criticized for every little thing. If they are going to criticize me no matter what I do, I might as well make my life easier.

Me: So that’s where the broccoli story comes from. It was one of the very first things they said about you on my first visit. I guess they were warning me. I’ve heard you don’t do anything right.

Stephanie: They try to act like they are so accommodating, but a few years ago, right after we moved here, they wanted us here for Christmas Eve. I told them no, because we have our own Christmas Eve traditions in our family. I’m Italian and on Christmas Eve, we have the seven fishes. I asked if they wanted to come to our house, because I already had the meal planned. No, they wanted us here. Doris said she would have seafood for me.

Me: What’s the seven fishes?

Stephanie: You don’t know?

Me: No. I know what gravy is now. Is there more?

Stephanie: It’s an Italian thing. It’s how we do Christmas Eve. When my mom was alive, we would start with grilled shrimp. We had linguine with clams. Cioppino. Marinated anchovies.

Me: I love those! We ate those in Spain when I was a kid.

Stephanie: I know! So good, right?

Me: What else?

Stephanie: Baccala.

Me: Not for me.

Stephanie: And of course we would make pizzelle.

Me: What’s that?

Stephanie: You’ve never had pizzelle? It’s the cookies we make at Christmas, either lemon or anise flavored. I’ll make some for you one day.

Me: It all sounds so good.

Stephanie: It is. And that’s what we do at our house on Christmas Eve. But when we moved down here, Sly and Doris wanted us to spend Christmas Eve with them. The whole reason Jack wanted to move here was to have a better relationship – to have a relationship, period – with his dad, so I said yes. And Doris said they would have seafood for me.

Me: Did she?

Stephanie: Yes. Technically.

Me: Technically?

Stephanie: They had a crab leg.

Me: A crab leg? As in one? One crab leg?

Stephanie: Yeah. Just one. One. One crab leg. One king crab leg. There was hardly any meat in it.

Me: But it was technically seafood, wasn’t it?

Stephanie: Oh yeah. My Christmas Eve seafood supper. It was more like my Christmas Eve garnish.

Me: That must be where Doris got the diet Dr Pepper idea. One bottle of diet Dr Pepper because she didn’t want to spend two dollars more to get a twelve pack and have leftover cans. But she got me that Dr Pepper.           

Which she did. Don’t think I’m an ingrate, even though technically, I am. It’s just that bottled soda does not taste the same as canned soda and everyone knows that.

I am being a bitch. Doris did ask what I liked to drink and she made the effort to get it and that was nice. It was. She is trying to be a good hostess.

And maybe Doris, not being a soda drinker, doesn’t know that canned soda tastes different from bottled. I have to give her the benefit of the doubt. I do. I don’t think bourbon tastes any different depending on the size of the bottle.

Stephanie peels the potatoes and we throw them into the pot. The potatoes have to be peeled. Doris’ kitchen, her rules, I guess. Mashed potatoes taste better with the peels, but that’s not my hill.

Jack opens the oven and checks the turkey. “Done,” he says.

Sly: The turkey should be done. Doris! Check on it!

Jack: It’s done, Dad. I’m taking care of it.

Have I mentioned that Jack is a chef?

And that he knows how to cook?

Doris comes into the kitchen to prepare the gravy. That job cannot be delegated. She lets Jack arrange things so she can have the drippings.

She sighs. She stirs. She sighs again. She stirs again. And she sighs again. Oh she is weary.

Stephanie: Mom, let me do it. You sit. Your wrist is still healing.

Doris: No, no, no!

She sighs again. Wearily.

Me: Doris. Really. We can do it. Please sit down.

It is clear that this is hard for her.

Doris: No, I can do it.

Jack: Come on, Doris. I can take care of this for you.

She shakes her head. If she doesn’t trust Jack, a chef, to make gravy, she is not going to trust me or Stephanie, the bad broccoli maker.

I shrug at Jack. He shrugs back. Fine. Doris can be in charge of the gravy. But nothing else. We do not delegate physical work to people who have arthritis.

I helped my mom make gravy (Norwegian/Slovak gravy, not Italian gravy) when I was a little kid. I know the trick – you put the water and flour in a jar, then put the lid on it and shake it. That’s how you keep from getting lumps.

But if Doris wants to leave her bourbon to make gravy, I’m not going to stop her. If she doesn’t believe me that I know how, then whatever. I don’t care. My ego is not tied up in gravy making.[2]

Doris: The gravy is ready.

Stephanie: Come on, Mom. Let’s go sit down for a bit.

Sly comes into the kitchen and hands a box to Jack.

Sly: Use this knife for the turkey. We got this set as a wedding present.

Me: What about the knife we gave you?

Doris used the paring knife in the morning to peel a pear. No, she did not use the potato peeler. I don’t know why. I don’t know why she had to peel a pear and I don’t know why she didn’t use the proper tool for the job. There are questions for which we shall never have answers, ever, and we must learn to live with the uncertainty. Life is ambiguity.

Sly: This one is fine.

Sly doesn’t even look at me as Jack opens the box, pulls out a 45 year old carving knife, runs his thumb across the edge, and frowns.

Jack: Dad, when was this knife sharpened last?

Sly: It’s fine!

I whisper to Primo: Have their knives ever been sharpened?

Primo: I don’t think so. I have never seen it happen in my lifetime.

Jack: OK.

As soon as Sly steps out of the kitchen, Jack whispers to Primo, "Hand me that new one."

Sly: Primo! Put the plates in the oven to warm!

Me: Not mine. I don’t want a hot plate. And I don’t think it’s a good idea if people are serving themselves in the kitchen.

Primo: My dad likes his plate hot. He’s always complaining that my mom’s meals are cold.

Me: Maybe your dad needs to help your mom make supper instead of sitting on his ass waiting to be served. He knows she has arthritis. He knows she broke her wrist. No wonder the food is cold by the time she gets it to the table – it takes her forever to put everything together. My gosh – she can hardly walk and it’s almost impossible for her to use her hands. Besides, why is she in charge of the cooking, anyhow? Or at least, in charge of doing what your dad says? If he wants to be in charge, shouldn’t he be doing the actual work? Doesn’t she get to retire? Or is it just him?

Primo: My dad is a jerk.

He puts the plates in the oven, but keeps one out for me. I guess everyone else will get burnt hands.

At Doris’ direction – because we surely cannot have figured this out on our own,[3] we load the broccoli and potatoes and cream of shrimp soup dip and gravy into serving dishes and put them all on the kitchen counter. Primo pulls the plates out of the oven and stacks them on the counter.

Sly: Kids, get your food. Be careful of those plates – they’re hot.

See? Isn’t that dumb? To heat plates that people are going to have to hold? Hot plates, if you are going to have them, are for when someone else is putting the plate of food in front of you on the table, not for holding while you serve yourself from a buffet line.

Primo, Jack, Stephanie, Doris, and I step out of the kitchen into the dining room so there is room for Maria and Michael to get their food. They move into the kitchen, leaving room for Sly to come in behind them.

I hear him lift a plate off the stack.

I hear him gasp and put the plate back down.

Ha! Hot plate! Serves him right.

I hear his angry voice boom from the kitchen. “What? You took only white meat! You’re not supposed to take only the white meat!”

Oh. It isn’t a hot plate. It is Drama.

Sly stomps out of the kitchen, face red.

Sly: Stephanie, look at what your children did! Look at that!

He points at Maria and Michael.


The rest of us crowd into the kitchen to look at the kids. Then we look at the turkey platter. Then we look at the kids’ plates.

Then we look at the turkey platter again. The kids have barely made a dent in the turkey, which is not surprising – there was a lot of turkey. It looks as full as it did five minutes ago after Jack carved the turkey. There is plenty of white meat. This can happen when you prepare a 22-pound turkey for eight people.[4]

Stephanie opens her mouth to speak, but Sly continues his rant: What kind of mother lets her children eat like that? How dare they take only the white meat! When I was a child, I never would have been able to do such a thing! My mother never would have condoned such rude behavior. She never would have let me take only white meat! We hardly even had turkey! We almost never had meat! I got to pick last! The children never went first!

If I were not in shock, I might remind Sly that he told the kids to go first.

I would also remind him that the kids also have a father and that if there is blame to be placed, it should go equally on the other half of the parental unit.

Jack is no fool, though. He knows Sly. He keeps quiet.

Primo is also stunned into silence.

Doris stares at the floor.

Nobody defends Stephanie.

Sly: Your children! How dare they?

Stephanie presses her lips together, shakes her head, and walks away from Sly.

Jack still says nothing to his father about his children or about the mother of his children.

I walk over to Stephanie, put my arms around her, and whisper in her ear:  I have Xanax if you want some.[5]

Stephanie: No thanks. I have my own.

Sly follows us into the living room and rages at Stephanie. What a bad mother she is. How dare she? How dare she?

Stephanie: That’s it. I’m not taking this anymore. Jack, call me when supper is over and I’ll come back to get the kids.

She grabs her coat and purse and walks out of the house.

Good for you, Stephanie. I wish I could join her.

Sly stomps into his office.

The rest of us stand in shocked silence.

After about 15 seconds, Doris and Primo follow Sly into the office, where they implore him to apologize to Stephanie. Sly maintains he has nothing to apologize for. He has done nothing wrong. Nothing.

Primo sighs. If there is a sound of someone wringing her hands, I hear Doris making that sound.

Please just come back into the dining room, her hands beg.

I KNOW! I know hands cannot beg! This makes me think of that psalm where the rivers clap their hands. Rivers don’t clap, people. They don’t have hands. I can never make it through that song at church without laughing.

If rivers had hands, could they beg?

Whatever. You know what I mean.

Primo and Doris continue their efforts. 

I am tempted to say, “Sly! We will be so much happier without your grouchy ass! Stay in here so the rest of us might enjoy ourselves!”

Sly: They shouldn’t have taken the white meat! They should know better.

Jack runs outside after Stephanie. Stephanie stands with her arms crossed, lips pressed together, shaking her head. Jack is in front of her, his head down. He reach to her and puts his hand on her shoulders, says something. She shakes her head again, but walks back toward the house.

The kids still stand in the kitchen, holding their plates.

Primo persuades Sly to leave his office. Jack and Stephanie come back inside. We all get our food – the plates have cooled by now – and sit.

Nobody eats until we see Sly lifting his fork.

Nobody speaks.

Nobody makes eye contact.

Sly: The Eagles offense was appalling today. It’s incomprehensible to me how that quarterback can keep his job. Two interceptions! Two!

He looks at Jack and Primo. They look back at him but say nothing.

The silence stretches until Doris jumps in.

Doris: They should fire him.

The rest of us stay silent.

When I am sure nobody else is looking, I catch Stephanie’s attention and roll my eyes. Her lips twitch as she shakes her head slightly. Then she rolls her eyes back at me and exhales. Lord have mercy who are these crazy people?

[1] You see all those posts on Facebook where people are sharing recipes and raving, “This sounds soooo good?” And it’s for something like a cake with two sticks of butter and five eggs in the cake and another two sticks of butter in the frosting? Of course it will taste good. It’s not hard to make food that tastes good when you use a pound of butter. The trick is to make food that tastes good and also has no calories.
[2] Except it does annoy me that Doris thinks I am so incompetent that I can’t make gravy. But do I really want to be the Main Gravy Maker? I need to adopt Stephanie’s approach. I have such mixed emotions.
[3] Can you tell I really don’t like to be bossed around like this?
[4] I just checked to make sure I was right on this. Common wisdom seems to be 1.5 lbs per person if you want leftovers. By that rule, a 12-lb turkey would have been plenty for eight people.
[5] Jenny sent me six tablets, but I discovered that Xanax does nothing for me. Doris did, however, give me her extra Vicodin after she realized it did not help with her broken wrist and after I told her that sometimes (rarely), it helped with my migraines. I didn’t use it for migraine that visit, but a quarter tablet every six hours made it easier to be around Sly and Doris. Blurry edges are not such a bad way to survive a bad situation.