Shoot me now. It is early afternoon and I feel as if I have spent the better part of a week with my relatives. Ugh.
My sister, Jessie and her husband, Tom are in town. They come to the casino every few months. This is very upsetting to my other sister, Patrice. She worries that Jessie is becoming an addict. ("She took off WORK, Maria, and that is a very bad sign! Think of the kind of example she is setting for her children!")
We all agreed to meet for brunch before Jessie and Tom headed back to my tiny hometown in Iowa where they still live. Patrice invited my Aunt Dottie and Uncle Lenny too.
At breakfast this morning, I felt Liv's forehead. "Do you feel sick, honey? You look a little pale," I asked.
Bing looked at me over the top of her newspaper. "Anything to get out of going to brunch..." she murmured.
But, no. Liv said she was fine. I looked at Socks. "I hate foregoing our walk..." I tried.
Socks nodded mournfully. Stay home, Alpha woman. Let's go out in the back yard and play a mean game of fetch...
Bing stood up. "Suck it up, honey," she said, getting her briefcase together. "C'mon, you can tell us all about it at dinner tonight, okay?" She gave me a kiss for courage and headed out the door.
So, I took Liv to school. Came home and put some lipstick on. Sighed. No use stalling any longer.
It shouldn't be this way. I shouldn't dread this like I do. Other people probably love seeing their families. Why is this such a pain in the ass for me?
I drove to Village Inn, the only place my Aunt Dottie will go since she thinks their two egg special is um, very special.
I pulled in and saw Aunt Dottie and Uncle Len getting out of their car a few spaces over. I smiled and realized that it was genuine. I actually LIKE those two, it is my sisters and their husbands who set my teeth on edge.
Aunt Dottie gave me a hard hug. "C'mere, you little green bean! Give me a kiss and make it stick. Your lipstick is a prettier color than mine..."
Uncle Lenny smiled sweetly at me and looked at Dottie. "Who is this? Is this that neighbor with the mean cat?"
Dottie whipped around. "Len, open your peepers, Mr. Jeepers. This is MARIA. You know, Lily's girl. The LESBIAN."
Uncle Lenny looked at me with interest. "Ahh. Yeah. Now, I remember. My, she doesn't look like one of those women, does she?"
I tried hard to smile my best butch smile. Maybe I should swagger? Offer to check the oil in their car?
We walked in and found Jessie and Tom sitting with Patrice and her racist husband, Bobby at a table.
Shit. I had been hoping that he wouldn't come. I can barely stand Bobby and the feeling is mutual.
Jessie jumped up and we hugged, touched cheeks. Tom enveloped me in a big hug.
We all sat down. Exchanged pleasantries about the sudden mild weather. The waitress came over, a big boned black woman with a beautiful smile.
Dottie had to make sure that they still had the two egg special. They did. We all ordered.
Dottie set the pace. She looked at Jessie. "Did you win anything?" she asked.
Jessie smiled, shook her head. "Naw. We won't be buying breakfast this morning, so don't even ask..."
Patrice sniffed. "Well, perhaps you should find a more suitable place to spend your money," she said, looking sharply at me. Back me up here!
I didn't. I like to watch her drown in her own righteousness now and then.
Jessie looked stung and bent her head down for a moment. Then Bobby decided to play back up dancer since it was obvious that I wasn't going to.
"Your sister and I are set for life. We couldn't spend all our money if we tried," he told Jessie. "And it comes from clean living. We want to leave our money to our grandchildren. And if the Republicans manage to keep the white house maybe we can. If those free handed Democrats get in, well..." he drawled on.
"Maybe gay people will get some basic rights..." I finished for him.
Before he could go on, I looked at Aunt Dottie. "Your necklace is pretty. Where did you get it?"
Round one: Maria.
Our food came and we all began eating. Dottie looked at my oatmeal. "That looks good," she said. I offered her a bite. She smacked her lips after taking a huge bite.
Jessie and I were talking about Bing's upcoming trip to Knoxville in April. She talked about how pretty Tennessee was. Bobby chimed in, "Lots of great Confederate sites there," he said. "Ah...the war that was won by the wrong side...."
He picked a bad time to show what an asshole he is. Our dark skinned waitress had just taken his coffee cup to go refill it.
"I hope she spits in it," I told him, smiling sweetly.
Uncle Lenny, who hadn't been listening, looked up. "Why do you want someone to spit in Bobby's coffee?" he asked.
"Because he's a racist jerk," I said in my loudest-talking-to-my-almost-deaf-uncle voice. Patrice looked at me meanly, her eyes narrowing. I leaned over and whispered, "Hey, I'm just worried about the example your husband sets for his children....."
Tom looked over at me. "Remind me never to take you on," he said. "You Harrigan girls are not to be messed with. I married one, I know..."
Bobby smiled maliciously. "All Maria needs is a night with a real man and she'll stop needing to wear the pants in the family all the time."
He guffawed loudly at his own joke.
The waitress came back with his coffee and smiled hugely at me. "How's everything tastin' here?" she asked, winking at me.
I winked back and said just fine! Bobby carefully pushed his cup away from him on the table.
Uncle Lenny threw a bony arm around me. "Hey, now young sir," he said to Bobby. "I love Maria and you can just go sit out in the car if you can't act like a gentleman."
I nodded, batted my eyes and stuck my tongue out quickly because I never did learn to play nice.
Aunt Dottie, in the meantime, had cleaned my oatmeal bowl for me. "Oh, honey, that was so good!" she said. "Here," she said, shoving a forkful of scrambled eggs at me, "C'mon, help me eat my eggs, it's only fair."
I took the bite, swallowed and then held up my hand. "No more, Aunt Dottie. I'm full."
"Wha'dya mean you're full?" she said. "C'mon, have a bite of my toast. It has strawberry jam on it. You used to love jam when you were a baby. Used to sit on my lap and hog my toast when we would come to visit, didn't she Len?"
Uncle Lenny nodded. Looked at me intently and said, "So, do you still have that mean cat?"
Dottie slammed the toast back down. "LENNY. This is MARIA. She doesn't have a mean cat. You are confusing her with our neighbor, Stella. The one who teaches yoga."
Lenny smiled dreamily. "Stella is a fire cat, she is."
I looked around for something to eat and spied two pieces of canadian bacon on Jessie's plate and nabbed one. I was stuffing it into my mouth when I heard Jessie's gasp of horror.
"MARIA!! It's FRIDAY!" she wailed.
I looked at her blankly.
"I KNOW what day it is," I told her.
"IT'S LENT!!! No meat on Fridays!" she said, pointing at the canadian bacon passing into my mouth.
I chewed happily and said with my mouth half full, "Do you think Satan is clapping?"
She shook her head, rolled her eyes.
Bobby decided to take it to the next jack ass level. He looked at Patrice.
"Well, one of your sisters has a gambling problem and the other eats meat on Friday during Lent. My, my, your Mother would be spinning in her grave..."
Okay. Thems fightin' words.
Jessie and I looked at each other, pondering. In this, we could be a formidable team.
Uncle Lenny, probably still dreaming of Stella the yoga instructor, looked up to say, "It is getting time for my morning nap. Where's the check?"
Jessie spoke up. "Bobby said he would treat us, didn't he Maria?" I bobbed my head up and down. "Yes, he did and hey, where's the waitress? I forgot to get a pie to take home for dinner. Jessie? You want a pie to take home?"
Jessie said she sure did. And well, didn't Bobby just say that he and Patrice had more money than they could ever spend?
Aunt Dottie saw an opportunity and ran with it. "Oh, Bobby. Thank you! What a generous man you are. Lenny? Should we get a pie to take home? Bobby's buying?"
Lenny thought key lime sounded good on this sunny leap day.
We all got pies. Patrice was so mad that she pulled her trump card in the parking lot as we were leaving.
"Maria? Come by this weekend, okay? I saw this skirt that would be perfect for you and bought it. I want to see if it fits..."
She always buys clothes that are two sizes too big for me and then acts surprised when I tell her that they are too big.
I told her in my best sugar voice that I would be sure and stop by.
When hell freezes over.
We all kissed goodbye in the parking lot. Dottie reached into her purse and insisted on lubing up my hands with the tiny bottle of Jergens that she always keeps in there.
"You always have such dry skin. It isn't becoming, honey. Now, c'mere and give your Aunt Dottie a big ole smooch."
I leaned in to kiss her. She found my ear and pressed her wet lips against it. "And you know, even though it wasn't very ladylike, I think you and Jessie got smarty pants Bobby pretty good."
I think so too.