Friday, June 11, 2004

My weekend plans have been shot by the disintegration ray weilded by the matriarchs in my family. I didn't go out last weekend (I was in Brooklyn with the family instead) and I haven't gone out all week, so I was looking forward to throwin' a penny tonight. But alas, instead I will drive three hours to stay in the living room of some relatives I don't know very well, without the buffer of my parents or sister to help me. For my very old grand-uncle (who I've met twice) is dead after a long illness, so we must gather here in a remote part of New Hampshire, The Asshole State (it's on their license plate! really!), even though three out of four of the guy's children live in California, where he also lived, by the way. And instead of it being in the afternoon, like you might expect a reunion on a beautiful late-spring day to be (and which would allow me to drive there in the morning and drive home at night), let's have a dinner. Oh and since we're all going to be together anyway, let's scatter my grandfather's ashes (my freshly-deceased-granduncle's brother), but let's do it an hour and a half NORTH (i.e. further away from me) of the reunion site, because god knows there just isn't anyplace pretty enough in the middle of the state, even though that's where my grandfather lived for most of his adult life. And let's set out for the ashes-scattering place at 9:30 in the morning, because it might take a while, what with the stopping every half an hour so my octogenarian grandmother can pee.

So the schedule seems to have been made specifically to ruin both nights of my weekend. I refuse to let that happen, so I'm skipping the evening event and will attend the ashes-scattering/lunch instead, which I actually am interested in being a part of, and which will allow me to be released with time served. I know the plan that was formed has absolutely nothing to do with me, and there are a ton of other people involved. And I feel guilty bitching about it (I'm venting here, though, so I can be pleasant and charming tonight and tomorrow). It's just kind of a puzzle, the way the plans were laid. I blame the passive-aggressive elderly yankees in the family.

I might be happier spending time with these folks, most of whom are smart and somewhat funny and who lead interesting lives. But I had a series of poisonous interactions with my extended family growing up which made me dread all activities with them. When we had family gatherings, the children (and my sister and I were the only children; I have two cousins, and they're both below the age of 12) were expected to sit quietly with their hands in their laps, along with the grown-ups in the sitting room, as they made polite chitchat for a couple of hours. It was excruciating and impossible for us, and when we failed to behave, we were made to feel flawed and out of control and just oh so very bad and wrong. It wasn't until years later that I realized that it wasn't my fault that I hated those times so much; normal people, and by normal I mean not joyless middle-class WASPs, would let the kids go play in the yard, or at least give them a game or a puzzle or a book and let them do their thing in a corner of the room.

So you must understand how I feel when I tell you how jealous I am of my sister, who has a newborn baby to take care of and so is excused from attending. She got out of a horrible family reunion held in the middle of Louisiana several years ago, too, though I don't quite remember how (she's a slippery one). That reunion gave me PTSD, I think. So she owes me Big Time.


Anonymous said...

You must excuse the outburst of juvenile AOL shorthand, but:


Ah the joys of extended family. Your tale of woe strikes so close to home - thank you!

Anonymous said...

Huh. I don't really remember a series of poisonous interactions with our extended family. But then again, maybe I always managed to weasel out of them. Ha! Sucker! Hoo!

BTW, I think our grandmother is more *imperious* than anything else. She just straight-out tells her family how things are going to be, you know? She's a pretty tough cookie.

- S. (the sister)

debl said...

Sister, I don't believe that you don't remember. Don't you recall the famous "I'm never hungry when I'm bored" story? (I'm the one who said it, so maybe you wouldn't...)

I notice that you conveniently don't mention the LA reunion. You just met a couple of relatives who live there, so you got a little taste of what I went through. I was soaked in it, though, where you were on your home turf. Oy, I'm still recovering...