Saturday, October 7, 2017

Ch 12 Ted sends us a wedding present, which I guess is nice of him, but then Primo tells me about the sex toy he also sent

Primo: Oh – I forgot to tell you. Ted and his wife sent us a wedding present. It came in the mail today.

Me: That was nice of them, especially considering I have never even met them, and, according to your dad, Ted isn’t even “part of the family.” What is it?

Primo: Well – it’s nice and it’s weird.

Me: Why?

Primo: Here is the nice part. They sent these salad tongs from Africa.

Me: I like those!

Primo: Yeah. But Ted also sent me a cock ring.

Me: A what? What is that?

Primo: A cock ring.

Me: I have never heard of that. Is it what I think it is?

Primo: Probably. He told my dad about it before he mailed it so my dad asked me about it.

Me: What? One, Ted told your dad he was going to send you a cock ring and two, YOUR DAD IS ASKING YOU ABOUT IT?

Primo: Yep.

Me: Seriously, what is wrong with these people? What did you say to your dad? I take back what I said about that being nice of them.

Primo: I shut him down. Told him I was not going to talk about that with him.

Me: Does your dad get that our sex life is none of his business?

Primo: He thinks his sex life is my business.

Ch 12 Sly and Doris are pissed that I don’t stick around to drink with them after dinner, even though they don’t want Primo to marry me and threatened to boycott our wedding – seriously, people – decide if you want me around or not!

After supper, at which Sly and Doris kill another bottle of wine and do not offer to help with the dishes, I clean the kitchen. I have the easy part – Primo is stuck with his drunk parents, taking one for the team.

Dishes done, I excuse myself to go to bed. I am lying. I am not going to bed. I am really excusing myself to hide and read a book. Alone. I like Alone.

Primo comes to bed an hour later: My mom and dad complained that you did not stay downstairs to socialize.

Me: Fuck them.

Primo: I know. I told them you were tired. I didn’t want to tell them the real reason.

Me: Even if I weren’t having a miscarriage, I would not want to spend more time with them.

Ch 12 Doris is appalled that I am setting the table with the same cloth napkins we used last night, which is really not her place, as she and Sly are filling up, once again, on the Good Cheese and surely won’t be hungry by the time we eat supper and the napkins will be completely unnecessary

Doris: We’re going to use the same napkins from last night? They haven’t been washed?

She hardly ate anything last night and she didn’t eat with her fingers. The napkins are still clean. I might be thrifty, but I am not gross.

Me: These are the ones you used yesterday. I made sure to keep each napkin in its place so you will have the same ones you used last night. They’re much nicer than paper, arent they? And paper is so wasteful! All those dead trees and phosphates just for something that gets thrown away after one use? Crazy! And can you imagine the waste involved in washing a napkin after just one use?

I smile sweetly. Hoist on your own paper-napkin-using petard, Doris. Point, Goldie.

At their house, Sly and Doris uses paper napkins. They throw out Ziplocs after one use and dry clothes in the dryer instead of hanging them on the line, even though they live in Florida, a place where the weather is conducive to line drying throughout the year.

Although I must admit that if you have arthritis, which Doris does, hanging clothes on a line would be really hard.

Sly’s arthritis and shoulder are irrelevant in this conversation, of course.

Doris is an environmental activist. Every single thrifty thing I do – hanging clothes to dry, using cloth napkins, getting books from the library – is recommended by environmental advocates.

Environmentalist, reduce, recycle, re-use thyself is what I say. Maybe she can’t stand that I was more environmental than she and for all the wrong reasons: I care about saving money, not about saving the earth.

I get the chicken out of the fridge, cut rosemary from my rosemary plant to stuff under the skin, wash lettuce, make salad dressing, and scrub potatoes.

Doris: You’re going to peel those before you cook them, aren’t you?

Me: Nope. We like our potatoes with the skin on.

I want to say, My kitchen, my way, Doris. If you don’t like the food, you may eat elsewhere. That’s what I have to do at your house.

Doris: Primo likes them peeled.

Me: No, he doesn’t, Doris. And neither do I. This is how we eat potatoes in our house. But I will peel yours if you wish. It’s no trouble at all. I will make a separate batch of mashed potatoes without skins for you and Sly if you like.

Doris: You really needn’t to go through all this trouble.

Then what are we supposed to eat? I want to ask her. Primo and I don’t fill up on cheese and crackers and bourbon every afternoon. We like to eat solid meals. What you see happening here is what a hostess is supposed to do for her guests. It’s actually what happens in many homes almost every day. Most people eat supper. They don’t drink it.

Me: It’s no trouble, really. I don’t cook like this every night, but we do cook like this a few times a week and eat the leftovers for lunch or the next night. For sure we cook like this when we have company. We like to offer a nice meal to our guests.

Man, I am in total bitch mode. I am not being very nice. The words are polite enough but if you think about it, I am being totally snarky. Does she really deserve this?

Ch 12 Is it weird that I am joking about a miscarriage? You guys, I seriously do not know how to talk about this.

I think it’s weird that I am making jokes about this and that I am joking with the doctor and the receptionist. And it’s weird that I couldn’t even talk about it at the gym. And that I have been able to put on my game face and, apparently, act convincingly normal to Sly and Doris, although really, they are not the most perceptive people in the world and they don’t seem to be too concerned about how the people around them feel.

This is just bizarre. I really do not know how to write about this. It’s like I am watching myself play a role.

Ch 12 Primo takes Sly to buy booze, which is a good thing because 1. It gets Sly out of my house and 2. It will keep us from going broke supplying them with booze

I get home from the doctor, go upstairs, share the news with Primo.

Primo: I’m sorry. I wish I could stay up here with you. But I have to take my dad to get some booze or else he is going to get nasty.

Me: It’s OK. If you can get your dad out of here, then it won’t be so bad for me. I can tell your mom that I have a headache and read in the guest room by myself.

They return with a half a gallon of bourbon and a quart of brandy.

They are leaving on Sunday. Today is Monday. Let’s do the math, shall we?

That comes out to – seven nights, two people, ¾ gallon equals 96 ounces so 96/7/2 equals 6.8 ounces per person per day.

That’s way too much booze for a person to drink. There will have to be leftovers. Ha! They will actually be stocking our liquor cabinet.

Ch 12 When I complain to my sister the nurse practitioner that the doctor does not laugh at my jokes, Jenny says maybe I’m not funny (I didn’t tell her about the pregnancy or miscarriage – just told her I went to the doctor for migraine stuff, which she totally understands because she also gets migraines)

Me: I made a joke to the doctor and she didn’t laugh. Why don’t doctors have a sense of humor? I actually changed doctors once because my doctor never laughed at my jokes.

Jenny: Maybe you’re just not funny.

Me: She should laugh anyhow. That’s just good customer service.

Ch 12 After lunch, which I do eat and which I offer to Sly and Doris (because that, my friends, is how a hostess treats her guests – she offers them the standard three meals), I leave the house again for the ultrasound

Me: I have a doctor’s appointment this afternoon. I made it months ago and I wasn’t able to reschedule.

Doris: Go ahead. We’re fine here.

And fine they are indeed. Diane Rehm, whom Sly and Doris, the tolerant, compassionate liberals call “The Speech Impediment Lady,” is blasting from the stereo. My house is noisy and full of NPR sticky-lip sounds. NPR people! You are too close to the microphone! Back away!

There is nobody else in the waiting room at the clinic, so the receptionist and I exchange notes.[1] Surprise pregnancy, surprise miscarriage, wedding boycott, crazy in laws to be and all.

Receptionist: I married a man who’s 18 years younger than I am.

Me: Wow!

Receptionist: His mom is only a few years older than I am. But she dresses like a hoochie mama – bare midriffs, really short skirts.

Me: Hmm. I don’t think I could have exposed my midriff even when I was 15. I mean, I could have, but it would not have been all flat and taut. I have always been a bit chubby.

Receptionist: At my wedding – at my wedding! – she picked up the best man, took him back to our house, and had sex with him.

Me: I am pretty sure that my husband’s mother will not be picking anyone up and having sex. Points to her, I guess. It could always be worse.

Receptionist: My father in law has pinched my ass. He threw up in our bathroom sink once when he had a bad migraine and didn’t clean it up. He didn’t tell us about it either. My friend who was over at the house – for Easter lunch – is the one who found the vomit. She had to tell me.

Me: She didn’t just clean it up?

Receptionist: We’re really good friends, but not that good.

Me: Yeah, I would have to really love someone to clean the vomit of a relative stranger.  

Two very pregnant women waddle into the waiting room.

Receptionist: Come with me. You don’t need to be in here with them.

She takes me to an empty exam room, gets me a diet Coke[2] and a People magazine[3] and says, “Wait here, hon.” She pats my shoulder as she leaves.[4]

A few minutes later, the ultrasound tech takes me to an exam room.

Ultrasound tech: Lie down on that table and lift your shirt, please.

Note that. A medical professional using “lie” correctly.

She rubs cold blue gel on my abdomen and then pushes a wand all over my bare flesh.

The doctor comes in, looked at the ultrasound, and confirmed that the baby has died. The size on the image indicates it was ten weeks old, which explains why I stopped feeling nauseated two weeks before, as it was now 12 weeks past the day when I became pregnant. Or whatever. Don’t jump on me for how I am measuring pregnancy duration. Point is, I stopped feeling crummy all the time two weeks ago. And I know the date that – ahem – I became pregnant.

That was the day Primo left on a week-long work trip after having just been gone for three days. After you have been together for a few years, it’s not so hard to remember the exact times when you have sex because it’s not all day, every day, the way you thought it would be before you ever had it.

Yeah, that was my vision when I was 17: Steady Boyfriend/Living Together/Marriage = All Sex All The Time.

Me: What drugs can you give me to deal with the in laws?

I explain about the cheese eating lactose intolerant bourbon drinking, not lunch eating, telling me how to make an apple pie even though I know how to make pie, falling down the stairs, in our bedroom, asking Primo to move the TV upstairs houseguests – to the doctor.

Doctor: Vodka. I recommend vodka. Lots of vodka. And margaritas. Go out for a margarita or two.

Me: I don’t really drink.

Doctor: You might need to start.

Me: Maybe.

Doctor: You probably need a D&C.

Me: Why? Won’t it come out by itself?

Doctor: It could get infected. It could come out at an inconvenient time. It’s better to take care of this. Let me call someone who can do it for you.

Me: But I don’t have time! I have houseguests! I have a wedding!

Doctor: You have to have this done.

He calls the OB/GYN who does the D&Cs and hands the phone to me.

Me: I don’t have time to do this now. I’m getting married on Friday. My sister, my brother and my mom arrive on Thursday. When do I do this? Can’t we do this next week?

OB/GYN doctor on phone: You can just wait and it will come out naturally. But we don’t know when that would happen. It could be tomorrow, it could be two weeks from now. You don’t want blood to pour out of you in the middle of your wedding, do you?

Me: I guess not, although my dress is red and white so maybe nobody would notice.

She doesn’t laugh.

DC doctor on phone: We can do this on Wednesday. I am booked all day, but I will come in early to take care of you. Be here at 7:30.

[1] Are you shocked that I would be sharing really personal information with a stranger?
[2] Diet soda OK now, I guess.
[3] It was like she knew me.
[4] There are angels everywhere.

Ch 12 Primo moves the stereo to the living room because apparently, Sly and Doris cannot entertain themselves for one single morning

When I walk back into the house, Primo, who is supposed to be working, is unpacking boxes in the living room. I tell him about what happened at the doctor and then look at the mess.

Me: What are you doing?

Before Sly and Doris arrived, he cleared all the unpacked boxes out of the dining room and the living room, but his method of clearing is to move them to the basement, not to unpack them and put the contents away.

We upgraded from a dining room filled with unpacked boxes to a basement filled with unpacked boxes.
See? No room for a TV.
And now the unpacked boxes are making their way back upstairs. Great.

Primo: I’m setting up the stereo. My mom and dad can’t go downstairs to watch TV. And I can’t bring the TV up here by myself because it’s too big.

Me: Why do they need the stereo?

Primo: They’re bored.

Me: They knew that you had to work most of the week, right? I mean, they knew they would be responsible for entertaining themselves.

Primo: Yes, but I guess they assumed that they could just watch TV or listen to the radio.

Me: I would never think about watching TV or listening to the radio at someone else’s house. I would never assume that is what I would be doing.

Primo: That’s because you’re a reader and grew up without TV.

Me: Yeah, I guess, but even if I did watch a lot of TV, I wouldn’t think that I would go to someone else’s house and watch whatever I wanted to there. I wouldn’t think that I could go and just take over the TV or the radio.

Primo: That’s because you aren’t entitled enough.

Me: Clearly. I guess it hasn’t occurred to them that our house is quiet on purpose.

Primo: They always have the radio or the TV on.

Me: I know. The noise makes me crazy. I hate it. I like quiet.

Primo: I know. I’m sorry. It’s this or listen to them complaining.

Me: Or have your mom fall down the stairs to the basement. Those stairs are worse than the stairs to upstairs.

Primo: She would not be able to take those stairs.

Me: And I would be really cranky if she fell and got blood on the basement carpet. That carpet is new. At least on Saturday, she fell on hardwood. That would have been easy to clean if we had to.

Primo: Hey!

Me: What I don’t get is how people who complain as much as they do about how their grandchildren aren’t exposed to Culture with a capital C watch as much TV as they do.

Primo: I guess there isn’t that much to do where they live.

Me: Was that a surprise? That there wasn’t that much to do? There is stuff to do there, but it’s all in town. But their house is a 20 minute drive from everything.

Primo: I guess.

Me: Because I did serious research before we bought this house. I mean, we already lived here and know Austin, but I looked for a neighborhood where we could walk to the things we want to do, like restaurants and the library and the grocery store. I looked for sidewalks and walking paths. It doesn’t happen by accident. You would think they would have checked that stuff out before investing $300,000 in a house.

Primo: I don’t think they thought about those things.

Me: I guess that’s how you end up in a boring suburban housing development where you have to drive to everything. No wonder they are bored.

Ch 12 I go to my aerobics class even though I have just learned I really am having a miscarriage because I really, really do not want to go back to my house and deal with Sly and Doris

What else could I do? I don’t have a copy of How To Act When You Are Having A Miscarriage.

As I sit on my bench waiting for class to start, another student comes over to me. "Are you OK?" she asks. "You look sad. Is something wrong?"

I don’t have any friends in the class – I’ve only been going to this morning class since I was laid off, but I recognize her.

I don’t know her.

She doesn’t know me.
I would rather smoke than exercise.
We have never spoken.

She has not had me in her home, has not been in my house since Saturday, has not shared meals with me, has not worked in the kitchen with me, and yet she knows something is wrong.

Ch 12 Monday I go back to the phlebotomist. Is it telling that I would rather deal with a miscarriage than spend time with Sly and Doris – does that make me a heartless bitch? I think so

“I’m going to the gym,” I lie – sort of – to Sly and Doris. I am going to the gym, but I am also going to the doctor for the blood test to confirm it I am indeed having a miscarriage. “And I have a few errands to run after class.”

Not that it is the obligation of the host to entertain the guest. When I visit people, it’s to spend time with them, even if it’s just helping fold laundry or making supper. I will wash your toddler’s vomit-soaked sheets and make up the bed with clean sheets when I visit you, people. I will even do the same thing again when said toddler vomits for the second time. (And, by the way, the only other time in her life. That toddler is now 23 and has not thrown up since.) I don’t expect people to drop everything to attend to my whims.

See what a superior person I am? I want you on Team Goldie.

The guest should adjust to the life of the host, not the other way around. I want to spend time with my friends doing whatever it is that they do. If that is going to the grocery store or cleaning out the garage,[1] that’s fine with me. I just like to be with my friends.

The phlebotomist takes more blood. I still don’t pass out. I have enough adrenaline in my system from the stress of Sly and Doris that my body realizes that passing out would not be helpful. Thank you, body.

I wait in the waiting room with my book – I never go anywhere without a book – and my phlebotomist-supplied apple juice while I wait for the results.

Results: It is official. This is a real miscarriage.

[1] Helping a friend clean her garage = Good. Cleaning Sly and Doris’ garage = Bad. Yes, we have already established that I Am a Bitch.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Ch 12 We finally eat supper at 7:30 because homemade rolls take a while and guess what? After all that Good Bourbon and Good Cheese, Sly and Doris are not hungry. I am an idiot.

Primo grills a steak. I make salad, broccoli with the stems because I like the stems, and the homemade rolls.

Guess what happens? Guess?

“Oh, we're not that hungry,” Doris says. “You really didn't need to go through all that trouble for us.”

Imagine, if you will, the face of a woman who has had to be Fake Nice for (counting the hours since they arrived) over 24 hours and is looking at another (pulling up calculator on computer) 144 hours of being around these people.

Oh. And who is going through a miscarriage.

It is a face of shock, of a frozen smile, of, “You can’t even muster a polite lie and say that it looks delicious and thank you for all that hard work on our behalf?”

I don’t know how to describe that face any better except it is not one you want to have to use.

Their lack of hunger does not stop them from finishing two bottles of wine, though.

The good thing is that there are plenty of leftovers. Primo and I will have something for lunch. There is no food going to waste. Except for the cheese, of course. Expensive cheese eaten by people who are former smokers and heavy drinkers. They probably didn’t taste a thing. We could have fed them a wet sponge and they wouldn’t have known the difference. 

Ch 12 They drink our Good Bourbon and eat our Good Cheese, which I didn’t even think of hiding because I was thinking “lactose intolerant” as I bought the expensive Lactaid, even though they won’t even buy canned diet Dr Pepper for me, and completely forgot that they eat crummy cheese at their house

4:00 Sunday afternoon. Pie is in the oven. Time for Snack.

Sly: We’re hungry!

Me: Good! Primo is grilling a steak for supper. I’m making salad. I’m making dinner rolls from scratch. We’ll eat in about two hours.

Homemade dinner rolls. How dumb is that? I will never make homemade bread for drinkers again.[1] Drinkers who used to be smokers. Their taste buds are shot. It’s a waste of good food.

Sly: This is when we eat our snack.

Which I also knew. The bitch in me is asking (silently), “Do you think it might have made a difference if you had eaten lunch?”

I sigh. What is there to do but give them their snack?

With their snack, they must have bourbon.

Remember the part about how the liquor stores here are not open on Sundays?

We should have hidden the Good Booze in the basement. But too late. As I am asking if Jägermeister or Rumchata is OK, Sly sees the small bottle of – shoot! What kind is it? I am not a connoisseur – all I know is that when I wanted to use a few tablespoons to make bourbon balls at Christmas a few years ago, Primo grabbed the bottle out of my hands and told me it was the Good Bourbon and I could not use it for baking.

How do you tell your in-laws to be that nope, they can’t have the Good Bourbon? If it were just me, I would have no problems. I would just say, “Oh I am so sorry! That was a gift and we are saving it for A Very Special Occasion. But I am happy to offer you Jägermeister!”


“Do you have any cheese?” they ask.

We have cheese. What we do not have is cheap cheese appropriate for people who claim to be lactose intolerant and who require Lactaid.

What we have is Carr Valley $22 a pound cheese. That Primo and I eat sparingly. As a true snack, not as a meal. How could I have missed putting cheap cheese on my grocery list?

Easy. Because I was distracted by their insistence on Lactaid.  

Cheap cheese has its place. Velveeta has its uses. How else do you make Ro-Tel dip? And nothing wrong with the store-brand cheddar for broccoli cheese casserole.

But I am out of Velveeta. Stupid. I wasn’t thinking. Everyone should have some shelf-stable cheese around for cheese emergencies.[2] Our cheese drawer has nothing but Good Cheese.

Speaking of the Good Cheese, take a look at the wedding cake our friends Patrick and Ilene had. This is cake made to look like a fabulous cheese tray.
It didn’t occur to me that they would expect Snack, which of course would include cheese, which is dumb. I insist on maintaining my crazy food schedule of eating lunch when I am at their house. They eat cheese and crackers and drink bourbon at 4:00 and that’s just how they do it.

I should have known better. This is my fault.

Seriously. I am being a total idiot about this. I knew they ate snack at 4:00! I knew they ate cheese! I have no excuse not to be prepared.

Except that I am busy, you know, pregnant and having a miscarriage. And having my husband-to-be’s parents sleep IN OUR ROOM IN OUR BED.

If you haven't had anything to eat since 8:00 a.m. because you don't eat lunch, you're going to be hungrier than the average person by 4:00 p.m., so you are going to fill up on cheese, even if you are allegedly lactose intolerant. And even if the cheese costs $22 a pound. More so, probably, because it is easy to eat a lot of good cheese.

Primo is upstairs, working so he can take off Thursday and Friday.

Yes, I am kind of pissed that I am stuck entertaining his parents. Why do you ask?

Sly calls up to him. “Would you please make us our snack?” he yells.

I am in the kitchen, making the rolls.

Me: Sly, I can do it for you. Or I can make some room here for you to work.

Sly: Primo can do it.

What kind of idiot plans to make bread from scratch for houseguests the week of her wedding? Bread can be bought. (I just love bread photos.)
Of course. Only Primo can cut the cheese.[3] They don’t want to cut it themselves. They don’t want me to cut it. They want Primo to cut it, put it on a tray with some crackers, and carry it into the living room for them, then sit with them while they throw back their bourbon. Our bourbon. Our Good Bourbon that I can’t even use for bourbon balls.

To keep the darn peace, he comes downstairs from office and cuts it.

Lord. I suppose that technically, the host does prepare and serve the food, but aren’t the rules a little more fluid when the host and the guests are immediate family? I have no problems jumping in to help at my mom’s. My sister and I usually take over meal preparation and kitchen cleanup altogether because hey, why shouldn’t my mom have a break? She’s not our maid.

I don’t mind when my family and friends are at home in my kitchen. If we have already agreed that they are going to eat all my $22 a pound cheese, which my mom and sister would not do as they are truly lactose intolerant[4] (but I would not mind if they did because I love them and want to share good things with them), then there is no reason they shouldn’t cut it up as well.

The same should go for Sly and Doris.

Oh I crack myself up thinking I can apply logic to Sly and Doris.

Primo cuts cheese for them. Sits with them while they eat and drink (our Good Bourbon). Then he goes back upstairs to work. I hide in the kitchen, making my from-scratch dinner rolls.[5]

[1] Let me amend that. I will never make homemade bread for people who are staying in my house for my wedding again, even if I like them. It’s too much work.
[2] A cheese emergency is when you have to feed cheese to people you don’t like.
[3] Ha. I said, “Cut the cheese.”
[4] The kind of lactose intolerant where you can’t eat any cheese because cheese has, you know, lactose.
[5] I am going to amend my previous statement that I will not make from-scratch bread again for houseguests. It is actually a great way to get out of spending time with guests you don’t like, as long as they do not follow you into the kitchen.

Ch 12 And then I wonder why on earth I care if someone who threatened to boycott my wedding or who is married to someone who threatened to boycott my wedding but didn’t pass a secret message to Primo that don’t worry, she was on it, likes me

Do you do that? Do you try hard to be really nice to the people you can’t stand so they won’t know that you don’t like them?

Why? Why do that? I do that. I don’t get it. Why do I care about their approval? Would it be so awful for someone you DON'T LIKE to think badly of you especially when she has already said that she is not coming to your wedding and her son shouldn’t marry you? Yeah it's crazy.

Ch 12 Doris comments on my clothes-drying habits and I clench my teeth to keep from snapping at her because LordHaveMercy there is only so much criticism I can take in one day after having to sleep in the guest room in MY OWN HOUSE

Primo: I like how the clothes smell when they’re line dried, but I like the way they get fluffy in the dryer.

Doris: Goldie, you should dry the towels in the dryer for Primo.  

Don't tell me how to run my house, lady, I think. And hey aren't you the environmental activist? Shouldn't you be in favor of line drying over machine drying?

But I say nothing, just grit my teeth because

·         She is a guest in my home and

·         She is Primo's mother.

Ch 12 Doris and I make an apple pie and I try to be nice, but man, is it hard, even though it was my own stupid Bond with Doris idea

Me: Would you like some lunch? A sandwich?

Doris: We don’t eat lunch.

Right. I have been at their house and have noticed quite clearly the lack of lunch, but I want to offer just in case. Because most people do, you know, eat lunch. It is a tradition in many cultures to eat lunch. It is also a tradition to offer food to one’s guests at lunch. Or at any meal.

After Primo and I eat lunch, which we do every day (although rarely together because he is the slowest eater in the world and I HAVE THINGS TO DO) because that’s how we roll, Doris asks if I want her to show me how to make an apple pie for Primo.

·         I have made apple pie with Doris before so I know how she does it.

OK, Doris does not say she wants to teach me to make a pie. In her defense - and it pains me to say this because I want to be the hero and them to be the Bad Guys but really, it is Sly who is the Big Bad Guy and poor Doris has to be Bad Around Sly So He Does Not Turn On Her - I might have said something to her about, "Oh you have to tell me your secret for apple pie because Primo is always raving about it!" I might have asked her.

But a while ago. Before they threatened to boycott our wedding.

(Which I am still furious about.)

(But I have to be nice to Doris because Sly is such an asshole.)

Indeed, if I look back through my emails, I might even find this:

Me: Thanks, Doris. I was also thinking about our making an apple pie. If you want to direct, I'll do the hand work. Primo says nobody else makes an apple pie as good as yours. I know that pie we made at your house – when was it? Last year? The year before? – was delicious. Perhaps you could pass on your secret to me. (Or at least leave it to me in your will!)[1] 

Doris: Would be happy to collaborate on an apple pie--I'll need some regular Crisco to make the crust.

But I didn't mean it. Primo isn’t always raving about her pie. I said that to be nice. And I don’t need any apple pie secrets. I make really good apple pie. Excellent apple pie. It’s not that complicated and Doris certainly has no secrets. She actually makes pie wrong, what with peeling the apples.

I don’t want to make a pie with her. All I want is for her to say something like, "Oh, I use this secret spice," so I can open my eyes wide, nod, and say, "Oh! So that’s it! I'll have to try that the next time I make a pie. Thank you so much!" and we will be done with it and everyone will be satisfied. I will get credit for acknowledging her pie-making ability but I won’t have to actually do anything.

I am a Pie Bitch.

But Doris always makes an apple pie for Primo. Apple pie and onion rings. Those are her things for Primo and it is sweet.

In a way.

You know I'm going to get snarky with this. But I have acknowledged and I will acknowledge a mother's love and give Doris her due. Mother's love. Check. Wanting to show that love through preparing special food. Check and duly acknowledged.

But you know what really happens because you have already seen it. As with the Pie of ‘XX – when was that? Ought Something – and the Onion Rings of Ought Something Else, Doris proposes and I dispose. As in, she supervises while I work because she cannot

1.      Stand for a long time, i.e., more than two or three minutes and
2.      She cannot easily do things involving her hands, i.e., peeling or chopping.

All of this would be fine - well, not fine, really, but just a fact - except she still wants to make that apple pie for Primo.

Which she cannot do because of See 1. And 2. Above.

Although I will suck it up and pretend to be nice and be the sous chef when I am visiting Sly and Doris, I do not want to be sous chef IN MY OWN KITCHEN.

I have everything we need to make an apple pie because my kitchen is stocked for the apocalypse. I'm like that. Got it from my mother, PBUH.[2] If you're worried about being in the right place when they drop the Big One or when the asteroid hits or whatever your preferred form of Final Destruction is, be at my mom's house or at our house.

Probably our house, because unlike my mom, we have over 300 bottles of wine in the basement, but my mom is better organized, just because she doesn't have to argue with Primo about what to keep and what to discard. That's what being a widow means: complete control over the basement. Complete control of all stuff. All of it.

My mom has about ten years’ worth of food in her pantry and chest freezer. It’s all labeled. All of it. I cook big batches and freeze stuff as well, but I always think, “Oh I’ll remember what this is – it’s gumbo! Or it’s harira! ropa vieja! I don’t need to label it.”

A month later, I am looking at the Rubbermaid container in the freezer, wondering, “What the heck is that?” You can’t even tell by opening the lid and looking unless it’s something obvious like macaroni and cheese or broccoli cheese casserole.

Still, we have lots of food. It’s just that supper might be a surprise sometimes.

I get out the apples and the lard and the flour and the salt and the sugar and the cinnamon.

Doris: Not LARD! I told you to get Crisco!

Of course lard, Doris. Lard is what makes your pie crust flaky.[3] Don’t you know that? She does have cookbooks and subscribes to a few cooking magazines. Hasn’t she seen the research? Doesn’t she read?

Me: I didn’t get Crisco. I never use it for anything else.

Doris: I can’t use lard.

Too bad so sad. We are at a pie stalemate. I guess no pie!

Me (just to be polite, even though I know an all-butter crust is just wrong): OK. How about butter?

Doris: Fine.

I take a deep breath – no arguing, no arguing! – and put the lard back into the fridge. I pull a stick of butter out of the freezer. We don’t eat enough butter[4] to keep it in the fridge or on the counter. I usually have warning that I am going to bake with butter so can get it out to thaw. I have that warning because always, I am the person baking.

Doris: Would you please give me a paring knife?

Me: Would you rather have a potato peeler?

Doris: No. A knife is fine.

Me: OK, here – this one is nice and sharp. But you don’t need to bother peeling. Primo actually prefers his apples unpeeled.

Doris: No, he doesn’t.

Yes, ma’am.

But he does! He does prefer unpeeled apples! I told her this the last time we made pie together and I am telling her now. I know how Primo likes his apples.

Doris, after peeling just one apple: I need to sit. Just for a minute.

She sits at the kitchen table and breathes heavily. Peeling an apple can be taxing. There is one peeled apple on the counter. One. One apple. One out of eight apples to go in the pie.

I do what has to be done. I take over. Like I am going to make her peel all of them?

"You started this project, missy, now you're going to finish it?" You don’t say that to weak old lady, even if she is annoying you. It’s mean.

I put the paring knife in the sink and get the potato peeler from the drawer. That, Doris, is how one peels apples if one does peel apples, which one should not.

I am faking being nice to her. This is not how I want to spend my Sunday afternoon. I don’t want to spend it having a miscarriage and baking an apple pie with someone who threatened to boycott my wedding and told my fiancé not to marry me. Or someone who didn’t stand up to her jerk husband when he threatened a boycott.

She stands to make the crust. As she mixes, she is explaining pie crust to me. To ME!

The secret of pie crust is mine. You use lard. Lard is what makes a flaky crust, not butter. Butter is not fluffy. That’s why you use half butter and half shortening (Crisco or lard) when you make cookies. Butter is too flat. It tastes good, but it is flat.

I certainly know not to overwork the dough. I know to sprinkle the mixture with ice water – which she does not do – once the fat is worked into the flour. I need no pie crust coaching.

I was doing all kinds of cooking stuff at a young age. Including helping make pie.

I hiss – under my breath so Doris can’t hear me – that I know how to make a pie, thankyouverymuch, that my mother and my grandmother taught me to make a pie when I was a little girl, and that I do not need to be taught how to make a pie at my age.

She can’t stand to finish the crust and has to sit while I take over. She instructs me from her seat. I clench my teeth as I do as she directs. I know how to make a pie. I do not need her to tell me what to do.

I cannot believe that I am having to take pie-making instruction from someone who is not even a good cook. She fed Primo store-bought cookies when he was a boy. Yes. Store bought.

No wonder he thinks Oreos are good. He’s never had a good cookie in his life. My mom makes cookies from scratch, which is why I don’t understand the appeal of Oreos at all. They are nasty. Hard, dry exterior cookies bound by sweetened, gag-inducing fat. How many children have been fooled into thinking Oreos are good just because they have never tasted anything better? No wonder people eat SpaghettiOs and Lean Cuisine and Hamburger Helper and Kraft Mac and Cheese. They don’t know any better. BlessTheirHearts.

And sorry, Primo, but I have eaten at your mom's house and her cooking is not All That. Maybe she was better when she wasn't arthritic, but I am not seeing any big pie secrets in this pie. As a matter of fact, she is not even putting anything in the filling to soak up the juice and keep it from burning, so I already know more than she does.

But I keep my mouth shut. And pretend to be nice. But I am not being Real Nice. It is Fake Nice. Nice on the outside but not on the inside, so it doesn’t count but I don’t care. Insincere Nice.

[1] Quick reference to Primo’ being disinherited!
[2] Except of course she is alive. But still PBUH.
[3] However. I have since decided that half lard and half butter – or something like that – is a better way to do it. Use the Bon Appetit recipe for pie crust but substitute lard for the shortening and for some of the butter. It is yummy.
[4] Not because I am morally opposed to butter but because I have been fat and I don’t want to go back.

Ch 12 A story about blue laws for those of you who know what blue laws are

When I was in the Peace Corps, another volunteer, who was from New York and who really liked his beer, was applying to grad schools, including Texas Tech.

Me: You know Lubbock is dry, don’t you?

Peace Corps volunteer from New York: I know it doesn’t rain a lot there.

Ch 12 Sunday Sly and Doris want to go to the liquor store, which surprises and then pleases me, because We Are Not A Money Tree

Here is what is in our liquor cabinet:

·         A $24 bottle of fancy craft gin that we bought last year after we toured the distillery. It is unopened. We need to make friends with people who drink gin.
·         All the weird stuff Primo had when I met him and that we have never opened, including crème de menthe, peach schnapps, Jägermeister, and not one but two bottles of coconut flavored rum. It will probably still be there when we die. Who drinks that stuff?

In 24 hours, I have another blood test, so I don’t really care what is going on with Sly and Doris. I’m just glad she was able to get out of bed this morning. First, do you know what a hassle it would be if she died in our house? Second, I want Sly to die first so Doris can have a few years without him.

Primo is dealing with them. As he should. They are his parents. No, he didn’t ask to be born to difficult people, but they are not my parents and I don’t want anything to do with them.

They ate breakfast before Primo got up. He makes himself something to eat and they talk about their plans for the morning, plans that do not include me, thank goodness.

Primo: Would you guys like me to give you a tour? I could drive you around town.

Sly: No.

Primo: Would you like to go to a museum?

(You would think they would jump on that one, being the cultured people they are.)

Sly: No.

Primo: Would you like to drink coffee and read the paper?

Sly: No.

Primo: What would you like to do, then?

Sly: We need you to drive us to a liquor store.

Well. I guess they have company manners after all.


Primo: You can’t buy liquor here on Sundays. You can buy beer after noon, but no hard liquor.

Sly, for the first time I have ever seen, is speechless.

I guess we’ll get rid of that Jägermeister after all.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Ch 12 I show Sly around the kitchen so they can make breakfast when they get up and not have to wait for Primo and me. That is, I show Sly where all the food is and tell him that they are welcome to eat it, even if it is all of the pickled herring or whatever it is that I ate all of that I wasn’t supposed to

Sly is still up, so I show him around.

“Let me show you where everything is in the kitchen,” I suggest, “so that when you guys get up,[1] you don’t need to wait for us. You are early risers and you’re still on Eastern Time. I don’t want you to be hungry in the morning, especially since you didn’t eat any supper tonight. Please help yourselves to whatever you want. If you can’t find it, please feel free to search for it.”

I show him

·         The cornflakes and the Grape Nuts and the Lactaid
·         The oatmeal, the sugar, the kettle, the measuring cups, the salt, the stove
·         The bread, the butter, the jam, the toaster
·         The plates, the bowls, the silverware, the napkins
·         The eggs, the frying pan, the spatula
·         The coffee, the coffee cups, the coffee maker
·         The oranges, the bananas, the apples

There. I have done my hostess duty. I am going to bed. Upstairs. In the guest room. Not in my own bedroom of my own house that I paid for.

[1] Praying that Doris wakes up.

Ch 12 After five minutes, Doris is ready to move, so we put her to bed and pray that she wakes up in the morning because a corpse in my bed in my bedroom in my house during my wedding week is more than I can bear to contemplate

Although the idea does make me think of one of my favorite sayings, which is, “A good friend will help you move. A great friend will help you move the body.”

Ch 12 Doris falls down our stairs and I worry that she might 1. Die or 2. Injure herself so badly that she has to stay in our house for months recovering

Sly and Doris aren’t hungry, which I know because as soon as they walk in the door, I offer them food and water (BAM! THAT, Sly and Doris, is how it is done) but they do want to see the house, which, upon thinking about it, is an odd custom. “Come, person who does not live here! Let me show you the private areas of my home, which may or may not be company-ready and on which you will judge me!”

I don’t want to show them what’s behind my doors because they I have never seen their spare room, the room where Primo slept the very first night. Fair’s fair, I say. But I am distracted by events and so surrender.

Doris makes it up the stairs very slowly. She shuffles around the upstairs slowly. There is not much ground to cover, but it still takes her a very long time.

She walks down the stairs very slowly. I walk ahead of her, thinking that if she falls, she will at least land on something soft.

I know! I don’t really like her that much, but she is fine with me when we are alone – which is almost never – and I do feel sorry for her, having to live with Sly. I have seen how he treats her when there are witnesses. I shudder to think what he’s like when they’re alone.

Just after I step off the last step and move away from the stairs, Doris…



Falls down the stairs.

She is not drunk.

(I don’t think.)

(We have not given them any booze. Maybe she drank on the plane?)

She is an exhausted old lady and, in her defense, our stairs are kind of weird. The banister ends before the stairs do. If you’re not paying attention, you’ll miss the last step. The tread is also narrow and the stairs are slippery polished maple. Pretty, but slippery.

She screams.

I turn just in time to see her falling.

Even if you do not like a person, it is a horrible thing to see her falling.

In slow motion, she stumbles on the last step. Pitches forward. Puts her arms out. Puts her arms down in front of her to break her fall. No sound. Just horror on her face that I am sure is mirrored on my own.

You do not want to see someone falling down the stairs in your house.

She falls forward, face down, arms flailing. There is a horrible thud and then she lies (lays? So many stupid people who don’t use the proper word! Oops – if I don’t use it properly, I guess I am beneath Sly’s contempt) sprawled in the hallway like those chalk outlines of murder victims. Her right arm is underneath her and her head is turned to the side.

I run to her, kneel, reach for her.

Me: Oh no! Doris! Doris! Are you OK?

Primo pushes past Sly as he runs down the stairs. He kneels by his mother.

Primo: Mom, are you all right?

Me: Should I call an ambulance?

I wring my hands.[1]

I don’t want Sly and Doris in my house, but I also do not want them injured. For their own sake, but also because I do not want Doris with a broken hip and unable to travel staying in our bedroom for the next four months.[2]

The nightmare looms: constant requests for help to the bathroom or for a drink or for something to read or just to talk because she is bored. I will have to divorce Primo [3] and move out just to avoid it.

Doris: Just wait.

Primo: Let me help you.

Doris: No. Don’t. Touch. Me. Let. Me. Stay. Here.

Primo gently examines her arms and legs. Everything appears to be in the proper place with respect to the joints and bones; it doesn’t seem like anything was broken. She is conscious and lucid. There is no blood, either on her body or coming from her mouth as she exhales. She can breathe. If there are other things we should look for, we don’t know about them.

Primo: Mom, I think we should call an ambulance. Or at least take you to the emergency room.

Doris: No! I. Don’t. Want. To. Move.

She closes her eyes.

Sly hovers, unable to do anything. Even though at 260 pounds, he weighs more than twice as much as Doris, he has bad shoulders and knees and can’t lift her. Plus he’s old.

Doris lies on the floor, breathing heavily.

Doris: Just. Leave. Me. Alone.

We move into the kitchen where we can see her.

Me (whispering): Shouldn’t we call an ambulance?

Primo: I don’t know! She said she wants us to leave her alone!

Me: Yeah, but how would she know? What if she’s hit her head? She could have a concussion.

Sly: Leave her.

Primo and I look at each other uncertainly.

Me (whispering): Your dad has your mom call an ambulance every time he falls down drunk and he doesn’t even fall down stairs, but we are supposed to leave your mom after she has actually fallen from a height?

Sly: Leave her alone!

Primo looks at me and shakes his head. On Sly’s head, I guess.

[1] Yes. I actually do that. I didn’t know it was a thing, but it is an atavistic response to a Bad Thing Happening.
[2] And for our homeowners insurance.
[3] Actually, just not marry him.

PS This is a comment in real time. If I had to do this again, I would totally call an ambulance. What on earth were we thinking?