Continued from Meet the Fockers Part I:http://wp.me/p4b9qN-3q
In the days leading up to our bridal shower for my brother’s bride to be my mother ordered my father to the liquor store to buy wine then she added more food to the menu right at the last minute just in case there wasn’t enough. Truth there was always too much food and wine. My mother was into abundance not scarcity, even if there were hungry and sober for that matter, children in the third world, that was not going to keep her from going overboard and dancing dangerously toward wasteful and indulgent.
Then mom went to work making her famous Iced Tea, one cannot forget the Iced Tea. All of her preparations and rushing around, picking extra flowers, getting Alda, her long suffering housekeeper to polish the silver again and again. All of this over productive possibly counter productive busyness was distracting her from her chief worry. What was really bothering the hostess but that she was afraid to admit was not that the silver would not sparkle but that about half the people that were coming to the shower were teetotal and not only would they have the clarity to notice the smallest tarnish on the family silver they might just notice that the other half of the family were boozers. There wasn’t much of a middle ground, and to make it worse all of the teetotalers weren’t on one side of the family or the other and neither were the boozers. Parties were complicated but the wedding was going to be worse.
My brother, who suffers from paranoia over his mother’s hypothetical behaviors calls up the day before the shower.
“What ever you do mom, don’t say here is the wine and the wine glasses, then point to a jug of Iced Tea and say, here this, this Iced Tea, This is for YOU and point to the teetotaler.”
“I am not going to do that Giles, I have already made signs to put in front of the Iced T, I am going to call it AA Punch.”
“Giles it’s a joke.”
“Mom you know I don’t get jokes.”
My mother has a propensity to be lavish. Right before the shower, she pulled out of her suitcase of lingerie. As she was holding up the skimpy bits of – I am not sure you can call it clothing, she said.
“I think I have over done it again. I have bought too many.”
“Perhaps” I say tilting my head wondering how you would wear anything that is called “floss” as clothing. My mother asked,
“Would you like one of these?” she says holding up a pair of thongs.
“To wear to the shower?” I say confused.
“No to keep.”
I pause, go in for a closer look, shake my head at my mother in disbelief, and looking down at myself, at the thong and then at her, I respond.
“Mom, I wear briefs.” I extend the ample tummy control elastic and let it snap back into position with a loud crack like the sound of a horse crop.
“I don’t think so. “
The day of the shower, looking forward to what the day held, I was overly ambitious and decided to wear a dress that was still too tight despite the singular pound I had lost running around the town over the last month. To rectify the bulges in the wrong places I put a sweater on to hide said bulges and to my surprise when I arrived at the gathering my mother seemed content in my choice of outfit. She really must be worried about the party if she can’t bring herself to criticize my choice of dress, my lack of makeup and messy hair, I thought to myself.
Meanwhile the boozers had a head start but the teetotalers caught up, matching each other drink for drink. The libations were flowing when the games got underway. My sister Anna Laura, aka. game Nazi, took over so my mother could enjoy a refreshing glass of Iced… T… Terre di tufi white wine blend, followed by an Iced Tea chaser.
First we had a How Well Do You Know Danielle quiz. The first question was, What is Danielle’s favorite movie. Instead of guessing wildly or putting down a predictably cheesy title like The Notebook, I scribbled in “Meet the Fockers” obviously subsequently inspiring this post. Although I scored a nort on that question I came out on top of her new family members and won a prize. I think it was a cream egg, my sister’s subtle tactic to tempt me out of my feeble attempt to divorce from chocolate. Such feeble attempts were almost always doomed if attempted around Cadbury mini and cream egg season. Oh well
The questions continued:
What is Dani’s favorite colour.
I wrote “Hot Stripper Pink” as a joke.
How did they meet?
Giles was dressed up as a clown for Halloween and Dani was dressed up as Pocahontas and as it is typical of American Indian’s to lack the enzyme that digests alcohol she developed a permanent condition of beer goggles and took home a clown and ended up marrying my brother!
How long have they been together?
I lost count of how many years they have been together but I can count the fights, the midnight phone calls, and brotherly lectures from Chris, they are the notches in the bedpost of any relationship.
When were they engaged?
I remembered this one- The Queen’s Jubilee. Although my brother denies knowing it was the Queen’s Jubilee part of me suspects my mother put him up to it. She was certainly jubilant when Giles got down on one knee and gave Dani, the diamond ring my mother had given him to give her. The same 10,000 dollar diamond my mother had turned her nose up to on Christmas 2003 when my father gave it to her unset in a box, leaving its fate, design, and ultimate owner up to her. She chose various settings, wore it a few times, decided she didn’t like it and put it aside for Giles. A cast off.
But Dani was smart and she took the diamond and made her own beautiful ring, sort of what she is doing to my brother, taking my mother’s tarnished diamond and making it her own. Got to admire a girl’s ingenuity and for that manner her lingerie, and she has plenty of that now.
After eating lunch on the patio we went inside to continue the refreshments, have desert and more wine for the boozers of course, and have Dani open her gifts.
The gifts were a blend of bowls and glass wear – the practical and then the sexy, mostly Lingerie. Why so many bowls I thought to myself before answering my own question. She would of course have to have something to fall off the dining room table and break, when my brother came home to find his bride to be in that number.
My sister had had the forethought to get my brother to pick out lingerie. We could tell immediately- it was the black ones, unfortunately not Hot Stripper Pink as I would have guessed.
When the combination of kitchen bowls and adornments met Lingerie boxes in various stages of unwrap, the curious men started to show up.
My dad popped in with that look of interest and fear that become men when they are outnumbered. Looking at the lingerie as it was revealed from its packaging
My father, Danielle’s almost father in law said ,“ Dani, you better not answer the door in that.”
Dani giggled in a funny, only for Giles, way.
Then Uncle Michael showed up for a reason I forget, he too looked a bit mystified at the collection of women in their best dresses and makeup sipping or gulping depending on what side of the divide you were on, teetotal or boozer, but regardless we were all outnumbered by wrapping paper and underwear, thongs to be exact.
After Dani had unwrapped my gift, the turquoise apron with a hot pink embroidered, “Spurling’s Slave.” Fortunately for me they were able to cover up the thread that started to form a “U” before Chris saved the day. See my previous post for the whole story
When my gift was revealed my sister shook her head.
“ Does that underwear match the apron?”
“No,” I said.
“Why should we pretend she can be perfect, when her husband will never be! “ I thought to myself.
“Imperfection is empowering.” I thought, “Just wait till she becomes a derelict mom.” All that lingerie will be replaced by nursing bras and XL spanx.
After my gift had been received I went to fetch Eva from her nap so she could have a brownie too. I missed most of the final game, which was another quiz, this time it was, “What would Giles’s say.” All the ladies, mothers and friends, had to draw a question out of the fish bowl and ask Danielle the question, she had to guess what Giles’s answer would be, and then they would tell her the actual answer.
When you have a toddler you tend to miss out on the best jokes, bits of drama, or otherwise trivially important moments you never even knew were so important before you had kids.
It was getting risqué and Dani got upset and refused to answer the question, “What would Giles say was the moment you embarrassed him the most.” Which made us all think the answer was way worse than it was.
It got awkward for a minute, the teetotalers got quieter as the boozers got louder. The teetotalers got closer to the edge of their seats while the boozers sunk more comfortably into theirs. At the same time, with the addition of a gluten free brownie my stomach had grown and distended beyond the confines of my too tight dress, so every so often I would hear a punctuating pop as the zipper popped open, it seemed to be in concert with Dani’s mom, who had taken to popping bubble wrap from the gifts, when the ice tea ran out, punctuating every awkward question and answer.
When the games and gifts came to an end, we decided to try the new bridesmaid dresses on the two girls, Sadie and Eva both 2, both too into dressing up, parties and brownies to be properly tamed. My mother had gone to great pains and deliberation to buy two flower girl dresses. There were more colour swatches, bows, dresses, consultations, web surfing, flying to Williamsburg to go to the fancy dress shop, that I was beginning to think it was no longer my brother’s wedding, but my daughter’s coming out party. Several dresses, and even more shoes later their outfits had been decided. Eva happily transformed out of her Saturday wear into her flower girl princess dress, the problem came when my mother began to worry about the white tulle getting caught up in brownie, chocolate crème egg or worse, grape juice box.
All the guests had ohhhed and awwwwed at the girls in their miniature half ballerina, half wedding dress miniatures as they ran around in full irate princess mode. After a few minutes, my mother tried to convince the girls to take the dresses off. At about the same time, Dani’s mom excused herself to go to the bathroom and probably collect her belongings for a swift exit. While she was absent, my mother’s determination to preserve the white tulle hit its peak.
“Eva it is time to take the dress off.”
“Mom, she doesn’t know what time means.”
“She knows what off means.”
“Noooo” Eva said, the “oooos” dragged as her top lip puckered and her bottom lip protruded and her hips swung the tulle against my mother’s wishes.
I was making no efforts to get it off, I figured she could wear it while I finished my glass of wine but my mother’s disapproval took over.
“I don’t want her to mess it up.”
“Well then we will have to force her out of it.”
I place my wine glass slowly down on the outside table; I slowly bend over hoping to coax the zipper down without Eva noticing.
“ Just take the dress off already,” my mother says, impatient with my bending to a toddler’s wish- way of doing things.
Mom bends down right as I had just got the zipper down a couple inches and grabs Eva.
“The dress comes off now.”
My mom holds her up in the middle of the room and begins to shake Eva so the dress will fall off, white tulle untouched. The faster my mom shook Eva the higher pitched her screams became.
At that moment Dani’s mom returned from the bathroom to find my mother shaking Eva, screaming in the middle of the party. She stood in silent shock, the ice cube in the last glass of Iced Tea slips, the dress falls off and Mom sheepishly hands me my screaming now naked toddler.
Meanwhile Dani’s mother must have had flashes of her future grandchildren with shaken baby syndrome and is probably right now hatching a plan to move my brother and her daughter safely to the other end of the island. She said nothing but made her exit soon after taking the rest of her banoffee miniature pies.
A few minutes later after Eva had recovered from her tantrum with the help of the last chocolate brownie, I led her through the house to say goodbye to the teetotalars, she cried.
“Mommy, my arm hurts.”
“That’s okay Eva, GiGi didn’t mean it.”
Suddenly I had my own childhood flashback. One day afterschool my little sister had thrown a predictable tantrum about not being able to consume vast quantities of sugar as is every child’s dream, having to be marched through the sweet aisle at the local pharmacy. As she was reaching for a package of black current fruit pastilles my mother yanked her arm out of reach of the candy display. My mother’s enthusiasm was no match for my sister’s ear piercing frustration at being whisked away within moments of success. My sister’s public performance reached new levels of achievement in drama when she insisted in tears and pain that her arm hurt.
“You hurt my arm, you hurt my arm.” Floods of tears, and the attention of the entire community of shoppers, led my mother’s tough exterior to crumble.
“Are you really hurt?”
“Yes.” My sister sobbed, holding her arm complete with floppy wrist.
“It’s my shoulder, you pulled it out.”
“Oh my God” my mother said overcome with guilt scanning the audience of cough drop buyers.
“We will have to get the doctor to check you out.”
She marched us both through the doors of the pharmacy into the doctor’s office, which was conveniently still open.
After a quick examination of my sister’s shoulder and arm, and a bit of a wink, he proffered,
“I think she will survive, nothing is out of place, broken or bruised except an ego.”
He gave my sister a lollipop for being a good patient. Her eyes light up because in a way she had won more than a lollipop.
That night my mother retold the saga to my father who quietly nodded, but taking in every detail he hatched a plan.
The next day on speaker phone a woman called my mother at home.
“Hello, I am looking for a Mrs. Jane Spurling.”
“This is she.”
“I am Mrs. Butterfield from the Department of Social Services.”
“Department of Social Services mame, we have had a report of public child abuse.”
“Who me?” a quiet but guilty voice came across the line.
“A member of the public has made a complaint that you were abusing your child at Robertson’s pharmacy yesterday afternoon, and that the child was in an ill or injured state as a result.”
“But But I took her to the doctors, you can ring them, she was really fine.”
“That does not make it right.”
“I promise to never do it again.”
“We will be arraigning you on charges to be determined by the family court.”
Before my mother burst into tears, the caller revealed herself to be my father’s secretary put up to it my father and his conspiratorial friends. For the thirty years since, this story has continued to give all of us many occasions to laugh, especially my sister who has always had the same persistent knack at getting her own way. My mom had not changed much either in the intervening years, and it was not the first or last time my mother would be had by a practical joke, including the one that my husband Chris had in store for her for Bridal Shower 2. Tune in next week!