Most of us have them.
I admit that I am not crazy about my in laws. Bing has two sisters and a twin brother. I have never met the brother, he lives abroad and doesn't visit or encourage visitors. One of her sisters lives in our city and I have a so-so relationship with her. I neither like nor dislike her, really. Bing's other sister, Francesca, lives in Chicago. She is a real life CSI and is one year younger than Bing. Never married. Is fiercely devoted to her cat. Francesca is very difficult to get along with. I am convinced that she, like Bing's mother, is bipolar, but she has never been diagnosed.
Francesca is the kind of person who never likes whatever gift that you give her for her birthday or Christmas. She doesn't even try to fake it. She opens the gift, her mouth turns down and she she immediately proclaims to dislike it. She then offers it up to anyone who wants it. Once, two years ago, when I bought her (because I am the designated gift buyer and card sender in our marriage, there is always one) a candle set after listening to her wax poetically about how much she loved candles a few months previously, she opened it up and frowned. Were these beeswax because she only liked bees wax candles. I said that they were. She wasn't crazy about the color, thought they were too dark, she liked bright, pastel colored candles.
And then she looked at me and said the meanest thing:
"Is this a re-gift? Because I can't believe you picked these out."
I got up as quietly and gracefully as I was able in my state of fury and swiped the candle set out of her hands and put them in our pile. I didn't bother to answer her rude question, just glared at her as hard as I could until she looked away.
So, you can imagine my joy when the phone rang Friday night during the season finale of Caprica and it was Francesca. She was at the airport, here for a weekend visit. Could we come pick her up?
I seethed. She does this frequently. Doesn't warn us of her impending visit, just shows up. Not that we don't have room. We have two guest bedrooms. It's just that...well...okay...my house was...was...was...MESSY. We hadn't grocery shopped.
I had been looking forward to a nice, peaceful weekend.
Bing looked helplessly at me as she spoke into the phone. Told her that she would pick her up. She hung up. I sighed. Asked her why she couldn't stay with Bing's older sister, Mary Liz. She lives in a house with five bedrooms and only one of her children still lives at home.
"You know she doesn't get along with Mary Liz," Bing told me. "And she thinks she has a dirty house."
I looked around, swept my arm out to show Bing that our house was not exactly magazine perfect. I hadn't dusted in over a week, there was dog hair on the sofa.
Bing shrugged. Said the words that sealed the deal.
"She's my sister.
So. We had a weekend guest. Bing just left to take her back to the airport.
I wish I could say that it was a success but I can't. Francesca nearly drove us all crazy. She insisted on taking us out to dinner and when we asked her what kind of food she wanted, she said that she didn't care. Bing suggested a pizza place. Francesca's mouth puckered up. PIZZA? ICK!
I suggested a local diner. Francesca frowned. No. She wanted a RESTAURANT.
Liv suggested a nearby Chinese place. Francesca beamed at her. YES! She loved Chinese food! We trooped to the Chinese restaurant. Francesca wanted to get crab rangoon which was fine with us. But then she had to go on and on about how bad crab rangoon was for everyone but hey, once in awhile, you just had to indulge. She looked at Liv, shook a long finger at her and said, "It is never too early to work on your figure, Liv. If you want a boy friend, don't eat too many crab rangoons!"
Liv is 10. She is reed thin. I worry more about putting weight on her than removing it. And good HELL. She is much too young to think about boyfriends.
I lightly told Francesca this and then ended by saying that any boy that insisted on a perfect figure was a waste of time.
Francesa looked over at me, looked me up and down.
"Well, you don't look too bad for your age, Maria. You're what? 55? 56?"
"And while you could use a few wardrobe tips, basically you're not bad looking. You remind me of Helen Mirren. But, you are getting those nasty old crow's feet, aren't you?"
I blinked. Crow's feet? I have Crow's feet? Well, okay. I do have them, but how RUDE. I almost made a comment back but feeling Bing's calming hand on my knee, I decided to let it go. I smiled politely and took a drink of my hot tea.
It went on like this all weekend. Francesca didn't like the news channel we watched. She watched the ABC news, not the CBS news. Could we change it? Our cars could sure use a wash, couldn't they? Was this the only kind of oatmeal we had because she liked the kind with flax in it.
She has this really interesting job but refuses to talk about it. Liv is endlessly curious about it, thinks it is so cool that she has an Aunt who is a real life CSI. But, all Francesca will say is that her work is "classified." Like she is a fucking FBI agent instead of a drug specialist. Much of her work is done in a lab where she analyzes drugs. But, instead of throwing Liv a little bone, she lectures her on drugs instead. How dangerous they are. Liv knows all of this. She learns it in school and we have discussed it with her. What she wants is a good story and I know that Francesca has them. But, no. She won't share.
About the only thing she and I have in common is that we both like the television show, LOST. We discuss that for ten minutes and then we are out of conversation ideas.
So, a long weekend. She is finally gone and you know what? I think I will go back to bed and sleep for a few hours. Hostessing wears me out righteously.
What I am curious about, though, now...are YOUR stories about in laws, family members, etc. Got any good ones? Because misery loves company. Do tell.