The other day I was driving with Eva in her car seat in the backseat, when a little voice piped up,
“Last day, there was a dead body in the backyard.”
“A Dead body”
“What happened to the dead body, Eva?”
“Nana buried it.”
Nana is my mother in law. I might have believed that my mother, Gigi, would bury a body in my back yard but not Nana. Nana is way too nice, whereas my mother could have easily buried a collection of dead bodies in the backyard. My mind reeled… maybe Ronnie the gardener forgot to weed the burm one time too many, or Alda her housekeeper did not cut the onions fine enough, or Alda forgot the starch, or missed a spot while polishing the silver. Perhaps my father had invited one too many relic hunters to stay in her apartment. Maybe my mother’s Doberman didn’t really die of a heart attack, maybe the Pet cemetery on the property contains more than pets.
When we finally got out of the car I repeated my line of questioning.
“Are you sure it was Nana?”
“Yes it was Nana”
“Can you show me where she buried the body.”
“Right there.” Eva said pointing to the back yard.
“What did the dead body look like?”
Eva started laughing….
“Why are you laughing?”
“Not a dead body, a dead Birdie.”
“Oh okay PHEW.”
This is clearly how rumors get started at Spurlingville, out of the mouths of babes and bloggers. Spurlingville, the family compound where I live, should be renamed Storyville for many reasons in addition to all the dead bodies who fertilize the rose gardens. My favorite past time as a child was digging up musket balls and horse teeth in the dirt. Oh the secrets they could have told!
I live next door to pair of almost 70 year olds – my parents – on one side and on the other, my uncles – another pair of almost senior citizens and yet they consistently out party this almost forty year old. I hope my constitution ages as well as theirs’ has.
I have no need for an alarm clock because by 8am each morning I wake up to the tinkle, tinkle, of glass on glass as the seniors next door empty their full recycling bins, clink clink of wine bottle against wine bottle, with a few beer bottles on top like sprinkles for the trash man. After years of practice they know they can’t sleep in with a hangover, that’s what an afternoon nap is for.
Night after night laughter wafts over from the next door porch at 1am, when I take my blind diabetic dog out to pee. Just as I am drifting off to sleep I am woken up by the headlights of an executive taxi returning my parents home from a party at 2am. The swoosh of the sliding taxi door has become a frequent nighttime noise- soon I think I won’t even hear it. It will become ubiquitous like the whistling frogs. But for now, it wakes me up like a worried parent of a teenager. Phew they are home I think, and finally go back to sleep.
I wonder if when Eva is a teenager, my parents will still be doing the same thing. I can imagine myself stopping in Hamilton to pick Eva up from the Pickled Onion and then driving by a party in Paget to pick my parents up. Life is for Living. They certainly live by that adage. We have started calling their house, the Playboy mansion, without a rocking chair in site they are giving Hugh Hefner a run for his money. I am thinking of suggesting that the family commission my brother in law to design an underwater grotto, it would be the finishing touch.
When I booked a business trip last month that would take me to Boston, Connecticut and New York and back to Boston in a week, I should not have been surprised when both my mother and sister decided to crash the business venture and turn it into Girls Gone Wild Boston. Inevitably I had a hang over at my first meeting, thank god it was lunch at which I ordered a burger and fries, something I would usually avoid like the plague of transfats it is.
My first afternoon in Boston started with pink champagne, something I also tend to avoid. Then we moved on to dinner, and essentially two bottles of wine between three people, and then of course a nightcap. As we made our way back toward the apartment, I became unsure of my decision to wear a short dress and heels as the two block walk seemed like a marathon. The two blocks brought us right past that aberration in my life, called a Night club. I didn’t even like night clubs when I was 19.
My sister, conspiratorial as usual said, “Mom, I triple dare you to ask the bouncer if he has a senior citizen discount off the cover charge.”
And of course my mother has never turned down a dare, so she asked him.
He smiled and said, “No but all ladies are free tonight, including senior citizens.”
It was clear they were having difficulty attracting the fairer gender so they let the three of us in. When we descended into the dark basement of the Nightclub, called STORYVILLE, it was clear that my mother was not the only senior citizen in the place, the age gap between my sister and I and most of the people in Storyville was at least two decades.
Nevertheless my sister got chatted up with a classic line, “ You are so sweet you could have only come from a Bakery.”
I wonder if that has ever worked on anyone. It worked to boost my sister’s ego but little to boost conversation especially because he bought my sister a drink and then she walked off leaving me to make polite conversation in an establishment purposely devoid of such an old fashioned past time, while she practically funneled her vodka and soda. I think vodka helps her walk in her four inch wedges but for me vodka just seemed to make me fall off my kitty pumps. Life is so unfair.
My mother dancing:
After dancing her fair share, my mother ever the fountain of wisdom decided it was time to go home.
The next morning it was clear that I was guilty of having the least efficient liver in the family as I struggled to get ready for my meeting, but hangovers manifest in different ways. Mine was a burger and fries, but while I was indulging my mother and sister had an eventful lunch of their own.
The elite mother daughter speed lunch at the Select Oyster Bar, was intentionally a patrician departure from the film maker daughter’s budget requirements: pizza, burger, dim sum? After enjoying their lunch, my mother insisted the waitress take a picture of mother and daughter with the four star Zagats rated restaurant in the background. I wonder if my mother thought the flashbulb would annoy the other diners enough that they would notice them, dripping in Yurman, and designer shopping, maybe mistake them for a celebrity or an actress. I am not sure Shirley Maclaine would have lunch with Katie Holmes though.
My sister, to the stage born, and an expert at the dramatic entrance and exit, spun to leave. She swung her Michael Kors bag for effect and momentum, at the same time as she twirled her Jimmy Choo stiletto on its miniscule diameter and walked although she might have actually been airborne, into the glass walled partitian, which swayed and buckled under her pure force. It propelled her backwards, after diverting her septum, chipping her toe nail polish through her peep toe and leaving her with a welt, – well really less of a welt and more of a hematoma smack in the middle of her forehead. As the Katie Holmes illusion was shattering, somewhere at a Bakery in the Southend, a young man was returning his chocolate croissant saying it tasted like it was almost forty years old.
Oblivious as usual (my family would probably call it self-involved) I didn’t even notice the welt at first when I was reunited with mother and sister for a post prandial shopping spree. I tagged along with my sister who dragged me down Newbury and back, I carried her bags, acting like a verbal mirror attesting to the size of the welt and any observable shifts in its development.
“It looks like one of those implants.”
“I wish it was a boob implant”
“No one of those devil horns people get implanted into their forehead.”
“That would be apt.”
Possible brain damage and a serious head injury did nothing to stem my sisters shopping. Out of boredom I suggested we go to the sex shop. As one does while on a girl’s trip, as one pretends they are purchasing toys for a bachelorette party.
“I think you should buy something for Jake for Fathers Day.”
My sister bursts out laughing.
“What now?” “Do I have something on my face that’s bigger than your welt?”
She would not stop laughing, she just kept pushing me into the sex shop. I insisted I take a picture of her among the dildos, hanging proudly perhaps profoundly on their wire racks.
“Is anything on sale?” I asked the sales lady.
“How can I help you?”
“We are looking for a gift?”
“What kind of gift?”
“A Father’s day gift.”
The shop girl’s face went white, my sister burst out laughing again looking like a deranged victim of a sex act gone repeatedly wrong. I was confused.
“Father’s Day?” The shop girl questioned. I gave my sister the evil eye.
“Oh god, your mind is in the gutter, with your forehead, you set me up! “ I said to my sister.
Blushing a color of rouge outdoing the pallor of my sisters welt I tried to explain without laughing myself.
“We are shopping for a gift for my sister’s husband for Father’s day, the father of her children.”
“Oh” said the shop girl surveying the rack for inspiration.
“Yes she is responsible enough to have children but grace is not a family trait.”
I say pointing to her head.
We ended up buying a Tuggie, a version of the Snuggie but for a man’s member. Leopard print. I am betting it has already become a finger puppet at their house after loosing its novelty. Nothing is sacred in a house full of children.
Later on while admiring the plunder which was my sisters shopping we started up a lively discussion about our drinking habits and relative hangovers.
My sister proffered, “Alcoholics don’t get hangovers.”
“I am not sure I can believe that.” I said.
“Mom’s comparatively less degree of hangoverness is actually a bad sign.”
“What that she has a hollow leg?”
I heard a clattering coming from the bathroom.
“I think I just heard her fall over in the bathroom, or did she just drop her medicine bag.”
“So because I was the most hungover I have the least tolerance so I must have less of a drinking problem.”
“I am not sure that’s right, there is liver function, food, age, genetic predisposition and a lot of causal factors that make that impossible.”
I should have shut up while I was ahead.
“Well I usually am the designated driver.” I say as a last gasp as my own Devil’s advocate.
Our conversation reminded me of the last time I drove my parents home from a party. They like me to drive home because God forbid they get pulled over and loose their license, they are retirees and it would cramp their luncheon plans.
A mutual friend of my sister and I, had a leaving party because she was moving to Australia. It was a new bar, it was Saturday night in the middle of the Film Festival but I promised I would leave the film festival party and meet my parents at the party and then take the responsibility of driving them home. There is a distinct advantage to having your daughter live next door and it is not just borrowing a stick of butter or someone to call when you have fallen and can’t get up.
The conversation on the way home went something like this:
Dad: “ I drank five whiskies.”
Mom: “You are an alcoholic, I only had three glasses of wine.”
Dad: “You aren’t counting the two vodkas you had before you left home.”
Me: “You two were preboozing again?”
I figure this was more training for Eva’s teenage years. Earlier at the party, my mother had dressed up as an outback cowgirl and then wedged her substantial derriere into my father’s bright green budgie smugglers, over her jeans. She spent the evening wiggling her back end in what could have possibly been considered a dance move or just a reenactment of urge incontinence. She was bum slapping people on the dance floor when she recognized someone from Family Court. She is a civilian judge.
“I know you from Family Court!”
The young man eyed her outfit as if he had just recognized a Supreme Court Justice at a fetish club.
“I hope your case turns out well.” She lifted her wine glass and chug-a-lugged.
I am sure she inspired him with confidence with her sober candor. To think my mother is a family court judge but shuns babysitting unless it can be scheduled in around shopping, eating, parties, cocktail hour and the first three hours after sunrise. My sister gave her a new nickname on our Girls Gone Wild Trip: “HOLIC” meaning you can add your choice of prefix as suitable.
All joking aside, my mom has started to babysit now that Eva is old enough to pour her own milk and fetch bottles from the fridge. I guess what happens at Grandma’s stays at Grandma’s… and that includes dead bodies or birdies, and drunken escapades of the almost 70s. Eva and I have a lot to live up to, and/or survive which is why when Eva asked,
“Mommy, we have to laugh like witches do… Ha Ha Ha… cackle… cackle… and get into our witch costumes Mommy. “
“Why don’t you ask your Grandma.”