Saturday, November 25, 2006

And Then Things Got Back To Normal

I was at my parents house for my grandfather’s 80th birthday party. I had just gotten back from taking my little sister driving, which is a bizarre enough experience in itself seeing as how I still have memories from the early 80’s of swinging her like a pendulum from a door jamb while she hung helplessly in her jumpy. But in my family a little bizarre is never enough, so when my sister and I pulled up to the front of the house and my grandparents arrived just behind us, and we watched my grandmother stumble out from the passenger side of the car, we were less concerned and more curious.

As I approached my grandmother she was wobbling and laughing. After some prodding as to what was wrong, I finally got this:

“Well my stomach was acting up before, so I decided to take a Prozac. But I mistakenly took an Ambien.”

I resisted the urge to pull out a notepad from somewhere and jot down: “No. Things like this don’t happen only in ensemble cast Christmas movies.”

We move her inside and place her in a recliner. As everyone else starts showing up, there is my grandmother mumbling something about “helping in the kitchen” while nodding off, a colossal struggle between her strong Italian heritage and modern medicine. My sister’s yorkie is running around like mad trying to attack my aunt’s two britney spaniels, who are, in turn, trying to attack anyone who may possibly pet them, accidentally or otherwise.

Meanwhile, I am drunk. I am in the kitchen chatting people up when the pork roast comes out of the oven. The chaos has left us undermanned. My mother looks around for my father, for my grandfather, for my brother-in-law, can’t find any of them. Finally she looks at me and says, “Well do you want to cut the meat?”

Now, it’s not that I can’t cut meat. I’ve lived on my own for almost ten years and in that time I have eaten many steaks, never with my hands. I’m familiar with the process. But in my house it’s not so much an act of convenience as it is a symbol of paternal strength and familial rule. In this regard, I am unqualified. But with no one else around and my mother clearly unwilling to wait I take the knife in hand, albeit with an illogical amount of apprehension. Still, confidence when drunk is my strong suit. So I began to slice.

People are milling about the kitchen, preparing other dishes, paying little attention to what I am doing. My sister walks by and does a double take. With every perfectly cut, biased slice I feel more and more like I am ready to settle down and start a family. Suddenly, perhaps due to some sort of scotch fueled bout of hubris, I begin cutting a little faster, a little more professionally, a little more like I am qualified to do it. And no sooner am I brimming with pride does the entire second half of the roast go flying off the cutting board, landing squarely on the tops of my shoes as though I had purposely executed some fancy soccer trick. Immediately I reach down, pick it up and put it back on the board. I look to my right and the only person who has seen is my aunt, whose eyes are wide, perhaps impressed with my dexterity, likely just disgusted with her dinner on my foot. Fortunately she motions me to clean it off and keep cutting. Maybe we’re all drunk at this point.

Five minutes later, I carry the tray to the table and no one is the wiser. And it was at that moment, my grandmother nodding off at the end of the table, my grandfather making the same “Why can’t she be more like this at home?” joke for the third time to no one in particular, conversations flying back and forth, people passing plates to be filled, and me, standing stately at the end of the table serving dusty pork roast while three dogs lay at my feet licking the hem of my pants, that I felt like the whirlwind was over and things had finally gotten back to normal.

* Please note that the entirety of this post was written while in Nashville. I’m not saying I feel dumber here, I’m just saying dumber might not be a real word.

Enjoy the two weeks of guest posts. I’ll be back on December 11th.


Blogger kiwi said...

Drunk family parties are the best kind. Hope things go well these next 2 weeks, the world o' internet will be anxiously awaiting your return.

November 25, 2006 at 5:01:00 PM EST  
Blogger [Cherry] Ride said...

Drunken meat carving will get you feeling normal everytime. I thought everybody knew this.

November 25, 2006 at 5:40:00 PM EST  
Blogger Kate said...

I thought I liked you. Now you just make my life seem even more mundane, boring, and well, worthless.

Happy Freakin' Thanksgiving

November 25, 2006 at 6:47:00 PM EST  
Blogger Beechball * said...

Oh that was too cute. I love that your only witness told you to keep going.. ahh, gotta love family! I am so glad that you're getting "back to normal" and I hope you had an excellent thanksgiving holiday! Take Care and enjoy your break! :)

November 25, 2006 at 8:13:00 PM EST  
Blogger Airam said...

To go with our holiday turkey we make our own vegetable gravy (basically carrots, onions and potatoes blended to something that resembles the consistency of baby food). Well we put the contents in the blender to mash it up ... this was my job one particular year and instead of simply lifting the blender off of it's holder, I TWISTED and THEN lifted. Needless to say as I lifted the friggin thing gravy went EVERYWHERE! All over the counter, the floor ... it was just a mess. Of course my mom starts freaking out and my brother decides it would be fun to egg her on by saying out loud more than once that "Maria ruined Thanksgiving".

So now everytime we have turkey, I'm reminded of the day I ruined Thanksgiving. It's a big joke and always was.

But still. You're lucky no one else saw you do that or else you'd be reminded of it at least once or twice a year.

November 25, 2006 at 8:19:00 PM EST  
Blogger Green said...

The first time my brother took me to practice driving, he kept saying "Wow, you're like a whole little person!" I just turned 30, and he still says it sometimes.

Happy Thanksgiving!

November 26, 2006 at 2:29:00 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

first off, i'm sure i speak for everyone when i say i anxiously await your return and regard these "guest posters" with some apprehension.

also, haha i hate spaniels. they are so scary and i have been attacked by several. at once. i commend you on being around 2 and not running and hiding.

well, at least you weren't the only drunk person at your thanksgiving. though with me it was several xanex and champagne and everyone was basically sober.

i love family get- togethers.

November 26, 2006 at 3:19:00 PM EST  
Blogger Kelly said...

Mmmmm, dusty turkey...

November 26, 2006 at 5:20:00 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great post. Totally agree with Kiwi - drunk family parties are the best. Actually they're the only kind we have, but still, I can imagine. Glad you're back.

November 27, 2006 at 12:44:00 AM EST  
Blogger birdie said...

don't feel bad. i dropped the entire pan of green bean casserole on a tile floor. a GLASS pan of green bean casserole.

there's no saving that mess.

November 27, 2006 at 9:47:00 AM EST  
Blogger greener said...

That was a sweet post. I remember the day that 'it all returned to normal' as well. It was like a big 'sigh'. I'm looking forward to your next post too ! And, we'll miss you, hope you had a great vacation (have a great vacation).

November 27, 2006 at 10:09:00 AM EST  
Blogger mm said...

Pills and booze. The best way to get through a family party and the incessant "How's the job?" questions. I would have done the same thing with the pot roast. Five second rule.

November 27, 2006 at 10:32:00 AM EST  
Anonymous kathy said...

that sounds a lot like the family get-togethers at my Mother-in-Laws. Only difference is no punches were thrown (I'm guessing not because you didn't mention it) and instead of saving the meat my Sister-in-laws f'ing rat dog with a better coat would have snatched up that hunk-o-meat and made off to some corner growling at all who came near, 'cause you just can't let the little f'er win!

November 27, 2006 at 10:47:00 AM EST  
Blogger Julie_Gong said...

Oh how I've missed the whitty banter.

November 27, 2006 at 12:06:00 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As I read this post, I sighed a breath of relief, that indeed, things are back to normal. I look forward to the day when holiday family gatherings will one day cease to be referred to as "the annual holiday family feud"....You know, the one where the uncle drinks all the alcohol and starts talking trash, causing the family to start arguing for the umpteenth time about GOD knows what...amidst the chaos, I isolate myself and chant "we are not trailer trash, we are not trailer trash..." hmmmmpft. Glad to hear you had an awesome turkey day...thanks for giving the dysfunctionals of the world a bit of light, and hope. Enjoy your two weeks...

November 27, 2006 at 2:06:00 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is a "britney spaniel" one that survives on Cheetohs and Red Bull?

November 28, 2006 at 3:14:00 PM EST  
Blogger Belinda Yamate said...

Oh, darlin', thank you, thank you, thank you for that belly laugh! It was a gorgeous thing! You're my gift today.

November 28, 2006 at 8:39:00 PM EST  
Blogger Dr. Stephanie said...

I am so glad you're back! You are the only thing (well, except for lots and lots of gin) that saved my Thanksgiving.

November 29, 2006 at 6:44:00 AM EST  

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