Friday, May 26, 2017

Ch 1 Primo tells me about his sister and I have some sympathy for Sly and Doris

Me: You don’t talk much about your sister.

Primo: It’s hard. She was not easy.

Me: What do you mean?

Primo: When we were little, she was really fun. She was very smart and very creative and very funny. But after I left for college, she changed. My parents started having a lot of problems with her. They never did get a good diagnosis, although they think she had borderline personality disorder.

Me: What’s that?

Primo: It makes someone really sensitive. My mom said it was like Nancy didn’t have any skin. Anything would hurt her feelings and she would lash out. My mom thought she needed treatment and my dad thought she still needed to be held accountable for her actions.

Me: Could she control her actions?

Primo: Yes. One time, she flipped off a cop – but she was in the back of a bus and she waited until it had pulled away from the stop so the cop couldn’t get her. She knew exactly what she was doing.

Me: What happened to her? I know she died of a heroin overdose. But before that?

Primo: My parents had her committed once and that made her furious. They took her to doctors, but there is not really any way to cure BPD. She started taking drugs. I didn’t even want to go home to visit. Anytime I came home, Nancy – she didn’t drive – would want me to drive her to get drugs and alcohol. And then she would want me to sit in her room with her and listen to this awful heavy metal music. I dreaded seeing her, but I felt so sorry for my parents having to deal with her all the time.

Me: Did she work?

Primo: No. She couldn’t keep a job. She was on disability. She was supposed to move to Florida with my mom and dad – that’s why they got a four-bedroom house, but she died before that. Trying to take care of Nancy just about killed my mom. And since she died, my parents have not been the same.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Ch 1 The condition of the guest room and Primo’s sister’s smoking habits

 Whoa. The guest room. The living room is a mess but the guest room is worse. Maybe they don’t expect people to see the guest room?

It’s not full of trash or anything like that, but it is crowded with photos and posters, crooked in their Michael’s frames, and dusty knickknacks next to the small TV on the dresser. The closet is stuffed full with clothes decades out of style, including heavy winter dresses and tops, with no place for me to hang my things.[1]

I find a paper bag[2] containing old newspapers from Pittsburgh on the closet floor. I flipped through them, looking for the significance – “Dewey Beats Truman?” – but apparently, they are just old newspapers that were moved from Sly and Doris’ old house to the new one.

You guys know movers charge by the pound, right? My dad was in the military and every time we moved, we had to ditch books, because books put you over your weight allowance right away and are not essential for life.

(I think books are essential for life because I am a reader and I am usually happier in a book than I am dealing with real people, but books are not essential for life the way sheets and towels and silverware are.)

The guest bed is uncomfortable, the room is noisy (from Doris’ CPAP machine, which lives in the dining room next to the guest room) and stuffy (the windows are shut and we are depending on air conditioning, even though the weather is perfect and I would be thrilled to sleep with the windows open), and there is nowhere for me to put my clothes, my purse, or the suitcase except on the floor.

Also – no chocolate on the pillow.

These people are savages.

The sheets are pilled[3] and pulling off the mattress because the elastic is shot. The pillow saw better days already ten years ago. I just bruised my thigh on the footboard, which has lovely sharp edges just waiting to pounce.

And there are small round holes with brown edges all over the bedspread and the nightstand.

Me: What on earth are these holes?

Primo: Burn marks.

Me: What?

Primo: This was Nancy’s furniture and linens. Those are cigarette burns.

Me: So – she smoked in bed?

Primo: She did a lot of things.

[1] Not that I have much stuff to hang. My travel clothes philosophy is “Must be able to be stuffed into a suitcase without wrinkling.” It’s the principle of the thing.
[2] Yes, I am very nosy. Like you wouldn’t look? If they didn’t want me to see it, they shouldn’t have left it out.
[3] This is what happens when you get polyester blend instead of all cotton. Am I being a bitch? Probably.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Ch 1 Speaking of Viagra

Me: Wow. Look at this story. She had sex with her husband every night for a year.

Primo: What story?

Me: In this magazine that I found on the plane. Point is that she and her husband had sex every single night for a year. Every single night. That’s nuts.

Primo: I'm not getting that much. You didn't want to the other night.

Me: No, you wanted to watch the hockey game instead.

Primo: You didn't want to do it.

Me: Oh please. Neither did you.

Primo: Yeah, but I can blame it all on you.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Ch 1 Sly tells Primo about his Viagra and we are both grossed out because it is so inappropriate

After dinner, I excuse myself with my headache and go to bed to read (and to write all this stuff down before I forget). Primo stays with his mom and dad to play cribbage.

An hour later, he slips into the guest room.

Me: Get out! You can’t sleep here with me. It’s too weird.

Primo: But I have to tell you this! Guess what my dad showed me just now?

Me: I couldn’t possibly begin to guess.

Primo: He showed me his Viagra! He bragged about it.

Me: Oh gross. I didn’t need to hear that. Why did he tell you?

Primo: I don’t know. Maybe he wanted me to know that he can still get busy.

Me: Did you want to know that?

Primo: Not particularly.

Me: Does your dad have any boundaries?

Primo: He doesn’t have anyone else to confide in.

Me: Why does he need to confide to anyone about this?

Primo: They don’t have any friends. They don’t have anyone to talk to.

Me: Not your job, honey. That’s not your problem and your parents should not be telling you things like this. Nobody wants to know this stuff about their parents. Nobody.

Primo: Well, what about this? My dad says that circumcising me was a mistake. He regrets letting them circumcise me and my brothers.

Look! Squirrel!

Me: Well, I do think it's mutilation. If I had boys, I would be against it and would not want to have it done.

We digress and discuss the issue, pros and cons.

Primo: Maybe it's not such a bad thing. My dad[1] says that he has problems with –

Me: Stop! I do not want to hear about your dad's penis!

Primo: But –

Me: No! I mean it! Do not talk about your dad’s penis with me!

Primo: OK.

Me: Hey. I don’t understand your mom and dad. When they talk about Ted and Jack, why don’t they just say “brother?” Why do they say “half-brother?”

Primo: It’s not like I grew up with them.

Me: Yeah, but they are your brothers, right?

Primo: Half-brothers.

Me: That’s a lot to say. It’s easier to say “brothers” than “half-brothers.”

Primo: They want to distance me from them.

Me: Why?

Primo: My dad has told me that Ted and Jack are a great disappointment to him.

Me: He told you that your brothers are a disappointment to him? He complained about one kid to the other kid?

Primo: Two kids. He complained about two kids to one kid. Yes.

Me: You know what I meant. Your dad’s not exactly the poster child for parenting, is he?

Primo: You mean your mom has never complained about your brother and sister to you?

Me: Nope. My dad never did and my mom never has. How do you know your dad doesn’t trash talk you to them?

Primo: I don’t know. Maybe they do.

Me: How are they disappointing? What’s so bad about them, other than being pompous and not eating leftovers?

Primo: Ted hasn’t held a steady job in decades. He says he’s a movie producer, but I have never seen any movie he has produced. I don’t know if he actually has done any.

Me: How does he live?

Primo: His wife has a good job.

Me: What about Jack? What did he do wrong?

Primo: When my mom and dad moved here, they suggested that Jack and Stephanie move as well. They wanted the kids out of Philadelphia. Jack was working for the school district, but he’s a chef and has always wanted to open his own restaurant.

Me: That’s cool! Very risky, but cool.

Primo: Yes to the risky part. My mom and dad were the major investors in the restaurant but it failed. They lost a lot of money. Jack and Stephanie got divorced. It has been a rough few years. They are really angry with Jack because the restaurant failed.

Me: But – they knew the risk they were taking, right? I mean, I am not a restaurant person but I know just off the top of my head that restaurants are one of the riskiest businesses to get into.

Primo: I doubt it. My dad thinks he is the smartest man in the room, so he probably didn’t do any research. He probably thought that just because Jack is a good cook – which he is – he is an excellent chef – that he could run a successful restaurant.

Me: Ouch. That does not necessarily follow.

Primo: I know. I was not involved in this decision. But they are super ticked off about it.

[1] Sly is, I gather, not circumcised, which is far more than I want to know about that issue.