I sometimes wonder if I am the only person in the world who dislikes family get-togethers, holidays. I dread it. Every year.
If there was some way to dodge it, I would. I would LOVE to just spend Thanksgiving with our friends, those whom we consider to be our real family.
But instead, we slog over to my sister's house. The sister who is married to Tom, who is my brother in law and the family bigot, the one who struts like a rooster and laughs like a hyena and is so gosh darned thrilled with himself that he cracks himself up with his lame jokes and asinine remarks right and left. The rest of my family doesn't win many points either, with their ignorant remarks about how the world is going to hell because black people just refuse to stop having babies and how "those mexicans" are dirty and smell and they all live twenty to a room. I am ALWAYS the lone dissenter, the one who refuses to back down. Tom knows that if he utters one racist syllable in front of my child that I will walk out, so he is careful to look around to make sure that Liv is in the basement playing with her cousins (who don't really regard her as family as my other sister has informed her children that Liv is going to languish in purgatory after she dies because she was not baptized a Catholic) or outside playing.
But, still. I get weary of him, of the rest of them. Instead of ranting, I will just give four actual sentences that were said this year at my supposedly good Catholic family's Thanksgiving dinner:
1) Uttered by Tom, of course: Anyone who doesn't pay taxes should not be eligible to vote. Right, Asshole. Those who are jobless should have no say in this country. Let's just let the rich creepy pee butt people like you, who inherited wealth, have a say.
2) By my sister, Patrice, sainted wife of Tom: I don't shop at that mall. There are too many "brownies" there. They smell. You walk in a store and they all have 9 kids who are screaming and they just stink up the whole store. I went into the bathroom after you used it, sis and yeah...your shit really does stink.
3) Tom, quizzing my sister, Jessie after she came home from a tour of Bing's high school in a poor part of town: I'm glad you're back. I was worried that the "jigaboos" would see such a fine white woman and think they'd died and gone to heaven. Tom, your sophistication astounds me. Do you always lift one leg to fart and then ask a grandchild to pull your finger? Where on earth did you come to believe that this was funny or that you were in any way, shape, or form better than anyone else?
4)Toby, Jessie's husband, after seeing a commercial on television with two brothers hugging: Wow. None of my brothers better go all "Brokeback" on me... Toby, I hate to break it to you, but I have met your brother and I think he plays for my team. And he wouldn't want to hug you anyway. Have you noticed how no one wants to sit by you? It's your breath, buddy. Maybe some Listerine would be a good stocking stuffer this year?"
Waving goodbye to my family as we got in our car (freedom!) was the best part of my holiday.
Driving home, I was grousing to Bing that I don't know why we subject ourselves to this every year. Wouldn't it be so much more fun to just spend holidays with our real family? She calmed me down,as she always does. Told me that it was just a few times a year, and family was family and didn't I just love the way my niece, Lyndsay was turning out? And hey, it was important for the other kids to see someone who had different views than their families. Maybe they would think about things more.
She's right, of course.
And then last night, we were able to spend time with our real family. Bing was in an all female rock band in college. They played the college circuit and were pretty successful until they all graduated and dispersed. There were five in the group and 4 were lesbians. After college, only one went on to play professionally and that was Ally, the lone straight girl and lead singer. You would know Ally (not her real name,of course and Bing and I swore years ago to protect her privacy). She has been nominated for two grammys. Never won. But, she is a Nebraska native and a great person. Well, she was home for Thanksgiving and for the first time, so was everyone else in the band. We all decided to get together for a day after Thanksgiving party.
I can't remember having such fun in a very long time. It was like the opposite of my family Thanksgiving. For one thing, the theme was "backstage band food." We brought brownies that we joked were laced with hash (they weren't) and slim jims. Ally brought Taco Bell, two of everything on the menu. C brought all kinds of chips. J brought giant chocolate chip cookies and krispy kremes and S (whose brother generously opened his house to us) supplied beer, wine coolers and Jack Daniels and co-cola.
No kids were allowed, although almost all of us have them.
The band had not played together in twenty five years. But, everyone brought their instruments.
At first, we all just caught up and talked. And laughed. And teased Ally about not winning her grammys. We renamed her Susan, ala Susan Lucci. Everyone was thrilled that Bing and I were finally together. (We had been best friends during the band years but apparently I was the only one who didn't know she had the hots for me..) We remembered old faces and old places. They reminded me and Ally that our nicknames used to be the rubberneck women since we were um....kind of cute back then and got lots of turned heads at the bars we played at. God, was that really us?
C brought pictures and...HOT DAMN...I WAS kind of pretty, wasn't I? But, Jaysus...my HAIR. I looked like I must have used a can of hair spray on it. And I looked like I put my makeup on with a trowel. We joked about Ally's red leather mini skirt. How at the end of the night, it was so rank that you could stand it up by itself. And S's blue spandex pants. Could she still wear them? Um, no. Not since baby number two.
Everyone looked so much older and all of us except Ally were fatter. Ally maintained that the only reason she wasn't fat as a pig was because she had to work out and look good for the paparazzi. She actually used the term paparazzi and we ribbed her about it all night long, told her that she was a movie star snotty bitch. She said, "Well, this rich bitch owns a farm in Massachusetts now and do you think any of you redneck Huskers are ever gonna be invited? NO!" She had food thrown hard at her.
It was so much fun. And easy. And heartwarming. And like....a family.
Then, the band jammed and we spouses and significant others, and partners and friends all sat in chairs and clapped and screamed until our hands were raw. I even got up and danced with everyone, although not with the abandon that I had when I was in my twenties.....
After a song, someone shouted out, "Jesus, you broads look OLD!" And C shouted back, "Hey, I used to have college boys trying to climb the stage and now I have to look at chubby middle aged women and men with bald spots. Listen losers, it isn't any better from this side." We all laughed and laughed.
I ate like a pig and all the wrong foods. I also drank too many alcoholic beverages, but refrained from sucking on the bong. Hey, I AM 49.
On the way home, at the wee hour of 2 a.m....
I curled up next to Bing and said, "This is what I want holidays to be like...."
Bing answered, "Me too, babe. Me too. But, hey....you can choose your friends. You can't choose your family."
She was right. But, I still think Thanksgiving would have been more fun if my sisters and I could have just got up and danced, maybe had a few hash brownies.....
And P.S. My vote for the new Husker Coach? Turner Gill! Please!