Thursday, December 19, 2013

an afternoon with the cuzzes

"Sometimes Grandpa can be fun," I tell the pouting five-year-old on the couch. I am off to a cookie exchange in my mother's home town and this young princess would rather have me stay with her. "Have him roll you on his exercise ball." For some reason this is their activity of choice, jeesh.

Rats, it's Christmas and that means parties with people making small talk and asking dumb questions. I pick and choose what I attend because there is not enough of my entertaining self to go around and some of you will just have to suffer the absence of me.

Sitting in the back of my aunt Celine's car I consider unwrapping one of the hard candies on the floor, I'm hungry. The invitation promised food and I am picturing spinach quiche, fresh fruit salad, raspberry scones and champagne punch. I can wait.

My 93 year-old aunt Leona, all 4'3" of her is sitting next to me. She is wearing black leggings and knee-high boots. She is also sporting a white turtle-neck sweater with black leather vest and a Harley-Davidson cap. Her tiny fingernails are painted black with white stripes, a skunk manicure. She hangs out at several Harley bars and the propreiters always keep beer mugs on ice for her.

We are at my aunt Rita's country home spilling over with Santas and snowmen decorations and I am hearing a story about Dagwood's Pub, the town's waterhole and the ladies are talking about Dagwood, the owner. "Is that his real name?" I ask. Oh no, they shake their heads, but he is such a dagwood, they say. Huh? And then Rita is telling me about a pub crawl they have at four other neighborhood bars and everyone gets a playing card at each place. The fifth card is supplied at Dagwood's and the best poker hand wins. And what's the prize, I ask. Oh usually cash, or guns, they all nod their heads.

I was deemed unworthy to wear a Christmas headband.

Alas, there is no champagne punch. Instead everyone's drinking coffee, pot after pot. Since I do not I am offered milk. Who drinks milk at a party? I am finally handed a warm glass of Diet Rite. "I never chill my pop," says Rita, "it makes me cold when I drink it."

I kissed my spinach quiche a sad good-by when I saw the giant margarine tubs filled with grapes on the tables and Rita had made cinnamon rolls. Two of her daughters made muffins and the youngest brought a crock pot of bacon. "Thanks for the bacon, " I tell her. I made three trips to that crock, I needed protein. "And I like your shirt." It pictured the manger scene with a balloon above saying, "It's a girl!"

I love my mother's sisters. They are honest and warm, generous and hard-working. Debbie processed 500 pounds of tomatoes this fall and I always feel lazy next to these women. Aunt Helen, all of 96, snaps at me when I admire her red coat. "You can't have it!" she yells. After a minute of thought she changes her tune, "if you buy me a new one I'll give it to you."



BrightenedBoy said...

The description of Aunt Leona is pretty awesome.

Arizaphale said...

Awesome family. I see where you get it from.