In addition to the knives we ordered, we also bought a potato peeler, which we packed in our luggage – I don’t think anyone has ever hijacked a plane with a potato peeler, but just to be safe, we put it in the checked bag – because Sly and Doris want everything peeled: apples, potatoes, pears. Primo and I are of the leave the peels on school for everything because darnit, we like the peels, and my mother was right, that is where the vitamins are, and plus we are just lazy.
everything peeled BUT THEY DON'T HAVE A POTATO PEELER. I don’t wait until
Christmas day to give it to them – I got it out right away because I am not
peeling potatoes, apples, or anything else with a dull paring knife. I have no
interest in accidentally cutting myself. My insurance is crummy and the ER
would be too expensive.
I go to Stephanie's to pick up the knives.
Michael opens the door, hugs me, and yells: Mom! Goldie is here!
Nice kid. If only he would work at basketball the way Sly and Doris want him to.
Me: Hey! How are you liking school?
Michael: Love it! Super busy. I’m working as much as I can over break because I am too busy at school to get a job. I’m glad I get to see you – I have been working double shifts.
Yes. He is lazy.
Me: What’s up, girlfriend? Your kids are in college with academic scholarships. There can’t be anything Sly and Doris can complain about.
Stephanie: Oh they can always find something to complain about. Come on in here – I put the package with the rest of the presents. Knives is a great idea – their kitchen equipment is not in good shape. Remember the turkey baster?
She ushers me into the master bath, where the tub is filled with wrapped presents.
Me: You keep your presents in the bathtub? Do the kids still believe in Santa?
Stephanie: No. That’s not it. I don’t put out the gifts until Christmas Eve. That’s how we do it in my family. This is a good place to keep them away from the dog.
Me: Sly is on a roll. He corrected Doris and me about an OB who he said is a gynecologist.
Stephanie: Because he would sure know better than two women.
Me: He is smarter than all of us. He knows the best way to do everything.
Stephanie: Including trash. I was over there last week to put their trash out – what a pain that is –
Me: Oh yeah.
Stephanie: You know they won’t get a wheeled trashcan, so I have to drag the can to the curb. They have the three bags –
Me: I’ve had to help with it. Was Sly supervising?
Stephanie: Of course he was. You know how he is. Nobody does it right. He has to watch while I put the bags in the bin in the right order. If I don’t do it his way, he makes a fuss.
Me: Oh good grief. You need to go on strike. Let them solve their own problems. Plus I am sure that Sly, the Union Man, would totally support a strike.
Stephanie: They won’t even ask Jack to do anything and he’s the one who’s related to them.
Me: I know. They complain to Primo that Jack won’t offer to help them but then get pissy about your help.
Stephanie: When Sly had that surgery and then Doris broke her wrist, I called every day and asked what I could do. Did they want me to pick up groceries? Make supper? Come over? They kept telling me no.
Me: I remember that. That was when they complained to Primo that Jack hadn’t offered to do anything. And they didn’t like how you did do the things you did.
Stephanie: I told Jack he needed to help his dad and Doris, but what could I do? I couldn’t make him. And they wouldn’t ask. Jack's attitude was that if they hadn’t asked for help, they must be doing fine.
Me: I asked Primo why they just didn’t ask Jack to help and he said they thought Jack should offer. Primo says that he would get in trouble when he was a little kid for not offering to help. Which is so dumb. Parents are supposed to teach their kids. A fourth grader doesn’t know to offer. You have to tell him to set the table or wash the dishes. If you wait for a kid to offer to help, you’ll do it all yourself.
Stephanie: They just like to complain.
Me: I like to complain, too, but nobody would say it’s my main hobby, like it is with them.
Stephanie: Well, Sly’s hobby, anyhow. Doris goes along with him because she is scared.
Me: Yeah, I have seen how he criticizes her. That has to get old. And he yells at her – she called Primo from the bathroom once when they were having a fight.
Stephanie: No, it’s more than that.
Me: What do you mean?
Stephanie: I’m not sure I should tell you this.
Me: You have to now.
Stephanie: Doris called me a few weeks ago, crying. She says Sly forces her to give him blow jobs at least twice a week.
Me: What? She told you this?
Stephanie: I know.
Me: Like you’re her best friend and want all the gory details? But – but she can hardly breathe! She has COPD! She has to use that oxygen machine at night! I mean – she has breathing problems! How do you –?
Stephanie: He makes her.
Me: Why doesn’t she just bite – Oh. Right.
Stephanie: He outweighs her by more than 100 pounds. I wouldn’t put it past him to hit her.
Poor Doris. We both fall silent as we think about the nightmare of being forced to give someone a blow job. Being forced into sex alone would be bad enough, but to be forced into sex that affects your ability to breathe would be terrifying. How does a frail elderly woman fight this kind of thing?
Stephanie: Don’t tell Primo . I don’t think anyone wants to know that kind of thing about his parents.
Me: OK. I’ll bet Doris wishes Viagra had never been invented. If I were her, I would flush those little blue pills down the toilet.
Stephanie: Me too!
 Yes, pears. I don't know why. Maybe because the skins are so tough?
 Which, by this point, you know, as I have argued with Doris about it more than once.
 Rolling my eyes as I write that.