August 2006 I take Primo to the big fish fry my aunt and uncle throw every year at their lake place. Don't be thinking this is all fancy: they have what is basically a huge garage up there. My eight cousins, their kids (I have a total of 26 cousins, I think), have trailer homes they keep on the lot. Not fancy. But if you're on the lake, who cares?
This year the fish fry is also doubling as a family reunion. Might as well throw Primo into the fire, right?
My mom, naturally, looooooves Primo. She seeks him as soon as she sees me arrive, walking up to us, saying, "You must be Primo!" grabbing his arm and taking him away from me.
Primo meets my many aunts and uncles and cousins and we are having fun. My best cousin, Angie, who is only nine days older than I am but about to become a grandmother so don't I feel old, likes him.
We eat a ton. Fried fish, "salads" (in my country, there is a dish consisting of apples, whipped cream and sliced Snickers bars that is called a salad and for which the recipe is found in the "Salad" section of the church cookbook), rolls and dessert. (Also in my country, the dessert section of the church cookbook is bigger than all the other sections combined.)
There is also beer. Almost everyone drinks. I don't because I don't think beer tastes that good, but beer? It's what for breakfast. And for minors, too, although nobody seems too concerned. The teenagers aren't driving. If they throw up or feel like crap the next morning from their drinking experience, maybe that's not such a bad thing.
Late in the evening, after much drinking but before Angie and some of my other cousins and Primo and I decamp to a bar to play pool,* my cousin Pat stops to talk to us. My mom, my sister, my sister's boyfriend, Angie, Primo and I are sitting talking. Pat appears, beer in one hand, cigarette in the other. She has something to say.
Pat: I’m going to tell you something that no one ever told me.
Jenny: What’s that?
Pat: You don’t have to marry someone to [sleep with but the other word if you know what I mean] him.
Me [embarrassed laughter – she said this in front of my mother. For crying out loud]: Is that why you’ve been married four times? You’ve been doing it like they do in Hollywood – getting married instead of dating?
Pat: Yep. I didn’t know. I didn’t you could just [sleep with] ‘em instead of marrying ‘em.
Then she licks Primo on the cheek.
Which stuns me into silence.
Because I have never 1. seen someone lick another person like that and 2. she licked my boyfriend. In front of me.
I am mortified. I am thinking that Primo is going to be so horrified by my crazy family that he will never want to see me again.
Fortunately, I meet his parents in two months and discover that I am not the only one with crazy people in my family. Although in Sly and Doris' defense, they never do lick me. They do, however, swear like if not drunken then at least sober sailors. As in, they say things I have never heard my mom say and never heard my dad say.
But I don't feel so bad about Pat.
I also never let her near Primo again.
* Which I later learn is the shock of the century because they have always thought I am a goody two shoes for not going to bars with them, but it's more of a "lots of cigarette smoke gives me a migraine" thing, but who knew? People aren't always what they seem and their reasons for doing or not doing something are not necessarily what you think.