Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Ch 11 Sly never did like the white meat – he prefers the dark meat – are you as shocked as I am to learn this?

Primo makes the turkey. I make a pie – with peeled apples,[1] broccoli with the stems cut off,[2] and mashed potatoes with the peels removed.[3] Doris directs me every step of the way and I smile tightly, through my headache and the nasty feeling the Imitrex gives me.

Offering my suffering up to Jesus! Doesn’t matter that I have cooked for myself since I was 21 years old! Doesn’t matter that my grandmother taught me how to make a pie crust when I was eight! Doris has to tell me how to do it!

My inner self slaps my outer self. Poor Doris doesn’t want to be telling someone else how to do it. She wants to be doing it herself. It would kill me not to be able to cook for visitors in my own house – to have to take charity in my own kitchen.

When I am old, I need to remember to be nice and act grateful to anyone who comes to my house and cooks, even if they are doing it wrong.

Or maybe when I am old I will tell other people how to do it right because it’s my house, my rules, darnit. That sounds like a lot more fun.

OK. I am going to be the Boss of Everyone at My House when I am old. Screw it.

Stephanie and the kids arrive, bearing pizelle. Jack arrives with beer and stuffed mushrooms.

I have to admit – I do not know the plural form of “pizelle” and google is no help. There appear to be many ways to spell “traditional Italian cookie.” If I am saying it wrong, I offer my deepest apologies. I mean no offense.

Why? Why do they bother to spend time with Sly and Doris? Sly and Doris are not nice to Jack and Stephanie.

I put up with Sly and Doris because it makes life easier for Primo . And, en el fondo, I also feel very sorry for Doris, even though I wish she would stand up to Sly and be nicer to me.

OK. I know that is impossible. She cannot stand up to Sly because he will punish her.

I will settle for her being nice to me behind Sly’s back and for thinking that perhaps, I am bringing a small amount of comfort to a miserable old lady.

I guess Jack and Stephanie put up with them because Sly and Doris invested and lost all that money in Jack's restaurant. If there is ever an argument for not going into business with family, that is it. That they will own you – or think they own you – after that. But after the White Meat Incident of Last Year, you would think Jack and Stephanie would never allow their children near Sly again.

We snack on the mushrooms while Stephanie and I set the table.[4] Sly pours some bourbon for himself and for Doris. Primo and Jack opens the beer that Jack had brought. Nope. No beer in the house for guests. Sly doesn’t drink it so why buy it?[5]

There is Xanax in my purse. I watch Sly carefully. Is he going to blow? I put the little pill box in my pocket so I can have it if I need it quickly.

We don’t set up a buffet. That, apparently, leads only to pain.

Primo and Jack bring the food to the table and place the turkey next to Sly. Sly takes a slug of bourbon, then carves the turkey with his old wedding present knives, not with the Good Knife Primo and I gave them for Christmas last year.

That’s what I like to see – someone mixing booze and weapons, especially dull knives. I step out of range.

Sly cuts the turkey and lays it on the platter. I sit. We pass the food around – no grace because that’s for stupid people and besides, what do Sly and Doris have to be grateful for?[6] – and no explosions. Nobody is drunk yet, as far as I could tell. It is, however, only 3:30, before they usually start drinking. Sobriety before 4:00 p.m. is not unheard of. After 4:00 p.m., it almost never occurs.

Michael and Maria very carefully take only small portions of dark meat, not looking at Sly while they serve themselves. After they pass the plate with the turkey to Stephanie, they look sideways at Sly to check his reaction.

He says nothing.

Stephanie and I watch Sly nervously after she passes the platter back to Sly. Sly serves himself a generous portion of dark meat, then passes the platter to Primo. The broccoli, the potatoes, and the gravy (which I also made under Doris’ stern tutelage but hey, it’s progress, right?) go around the table.

Everyone has their food.

Nobody dares to eat.

Except Sly.

He says nothing. He puts a forkful of turkey into his mouth. Nobody breathes. He chews slowly. He stops eating, and after a few seconds muses, "You know, I never have liked the white meat. Too dry. No flavor. I've always preferred the dark meat."

As our jaws drop, Stephanie and I look at each other across the table and raise our eyebrows. All that invective the previous year over the white meat and he didn’t even care about it? He doesn’t even like it? Then why the blowup?

I want to ask Sly, “Then what was last year all about? What was all that yelling and hatefulness and drama about?”

But I don’t. I am a sissy who will not stand up to bullies.

We finish the meal if not in peace – peace implies a calm and a lack of fear – then at least in quiet, with no screaming and no anger. Nobody is hurt; there is no blood.

I guess that’s victory.

[1] The wrong way to do it, according to me.
[2] The right way, according to Doris.
[3] The right way, according to Doris.
[4] Even though Sly is Mr. Ultra Socialist Liberal, setting the table is Women’s Work. Actually, though, based on anything I have read about revolutionary movements, the women are still expected to do the grunt work. Revolution is to free men, not to free women.
[5] Am I being a bitch again? Yes. I am. Sorry.
[6] They have nothing but sharp serpents’ teeth.


  1. Given his history, that peculiar remark about preferring dark meat might be a weird (very weird) acknowledgement and apology for the previous year. (And pigs may fly.)

    1. Watching for the fluttering of lardy wings as we speak, Marsha.

  2. I KNOW this is not the point at all of this post, but if you're interested, 'pizzelle' IS the plural form (the singular is 'pizzella'.

    You aren't being a bitch in (5). If your guests like beer, you can afford it, and you have no moral objection to alcohol, you buy it. It's part of being a good host.

    1. Thank you! I have wanted to know the proper way to say it! I guess the reason I have never heard "pizzella" is that nobody ever eats just one.


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