Bring your boyfriend home to meet your parents & introduce him to a cat. Might as well have some fun before you die alone.
I flew home from LA to San Antonio for Christmas, which started off with a dark tone. My mom’s second cousin had just been murdered by her separated husband. He’d shot her and then himself in front of their two young boys. He didn’t kill the kids. (Other than probably just something inside of them.)
Christmas morning was always something to dread in our family. My mom would buy my dad gifts she knew he would hate. Her favorite to gift was XXL turtlenecks from Wal-mart, while my dad was barely a large and a Brooks Brothers type dresser who had all his suits tailored. Most kids looked forward to Christmas morning with more excitement than any other day of the year, I woke up wishing I was Jewish. Not to mention this past year my Mom was constantly reminding us it’d probably be our Dad’s last Christmas. *Happy Holidays*
(I had actually called my Mom a few weeks before to ask if we had plans for the holidays and her response was “We need get together and write your Dad’s obituary. Just in case.” - - um, yea, I was just wondering if we were going to have turkey or honey ham for Christmas dinner.)
I arrived home the afternoon of Christmas Eve. My mom picked me up from the airport to stop at home and change for mass. I’d packed lightly, only a duffle bag for a few weeks, and certainly didn’t bring any nice-looking clothes for church in hopes that would get me out of having to go. I tried using this excuse however my mother’s response was “Just put on something. No one is going to notice you.” I actually prayed no one would notice us at church. Everyone in my family always tried to get out of going to mass. As a child I once lifted a woman’s dress up while in line for communion. And my Dad, while working as a attorney had once tried to indict the most well known catholic priest in the city of San Antonio. I didn’t think we were going to go to mass this year due to the “scene” my mother caused last year. As usual, she’d gone ahead of us to save seats. As more people filled the church she eventually laid down across the pews in order to claim our seats. With all the seats filled, a woman approached my mother and told her she was not allowed to save seats. This evolved into a heated argument where my mom was now yelling back and forth with this woman and telling her to go to Hell. *Catholics*
Mass was always bad but family dinners were the worst. Like Christmas gifts, I think my mom would sometimes deliberately cook terrible food, then when we’d call her out about it she would just cackle maniacally. I remember as a kid she’d make pork chops and yell upstairs to us that “the pig slop is ready.” Moreover, eating dinner without the TV to distract us is completely unfathomable. It’s taken years but we’ve come to realize that Hugh Laurie’s House is our happy medium. Now granted there’s a lack of communication in my family, my mom’s still a talker - one of those over-sharers - which usually entails the details of the latest Lifetime movie or what time she went to the grocery store that day. At this past Christmas dinner, to avoid a diatribe on the movie “Homeless to Harvard” or “Where the Heart Is” or as my mother refers to it, “Wal-mart Baby.” I asked my older sister, who’s an OB/GYN, if anything exciting happened at work yesterday, since she’s the only one in my family with a real job. (Also, she’s an OB/GYN specializing in something having to do with test tube babies. Which upon first hearing I said “like you grow babies in labs?” Nope. Not a thing. Unrelated, here I come Mensa!) My sister responded that she had to tell two people they had ovarian cancer yesterday. Not quite the response I was hoping for. So I asked if she’d ever seen that show “I didn’t know I was pregnant.” If you don’t know, it’s a TV show that reveals the astonishing stories of women who conceive and carry their babies all the way to labor and delivery with no idea that they were ever pregnant. She hadn’t seen the show, but she’s had someone come in to her hospital similar to this and proceeded to share the story: So a rather large woman came to the hospital because she thought she was having really bad gas. But actually she was pregnant. Also, there is no easy way to say this, but the baby was already dead. Thus, the doctors had to get it out. While delivering the baby it’s shoulder got kind of stuck. Now normally when this happens with a living baby, you’d then do a c section. However, this particular doctor decided to muscle the baby out and..pulled off it’s head. He then had to sew it back on because it’s protocol with still-borns to let the parents hold it and grieve. All of us just sat there at the dinner table with our jaws completely dropped. Then my entire family started laughing hysterically. And it was kind of a beautiful family moment. *Catholics*
This is something I wrote on Thanksgiving two years ago.
11.25.11. Thanksgiving was today, but I’ll start with last Saturday. It was my little sister’s 21st Birthday. Her and I went out for burgers at Hopdoddy and a movie and then to 6th street. (We saw Twilight: New Moon but at the Alamo Draft House, so obviously we saw it ironically.) We went to Liberty Bar on the east side because a few of my comic friends were there. (I told everyone we saw Melancholia, because shame.) It wasn’t very fun because I wasn’t feeling very well. I tried to pretend like I was having a good time for my sister, but couldn’t fake it anymore after vomiting in the bar bathroom — it wasn’t quite Trainspotting, but it was a disgusting bathroom. When we got home that night I continually threw up. My younger sister eventually had to drive me to the hospital at 7am. We decided to do this after calling my older sister, who’s a doctor, and she let us know it might be my appendix and my organs could explode. I finally zombied my way to the emergency room to wait and wait some more. I finally told Catherine to go tell them I was shitting myself. Their response: “Oh, so she is! Well, bust my buttons! Why didn’t you say that in the first place? That’s a horse of a different color! Come on in!” They then gave her a puppy pad for me to sit on and eventually opened their Emerald City Gates. Though this was a trick. They only brought me back to get my weight, blood pressure and ask me questions, which during I tried to lie down on the floor and was abruptly told I was not allowed to do that as I could get infections from the floor. Eventually I was given a bed. It turned out I had food poisoning and was seriously dehydrated. They gave me some drugs, which the doctor said “would make me feel better but would also make me feel like I got hit by a truck for the next few days.” Also, that’s not a great trade off. The doctor deduced I had food poisoning because I mentioned I had a tuna burger earlier. It actually turned out I hadn’t been poisoned, but had a stomach virus and was quite contagious.
My mom, dad and older sister drove up from San Antonio. I half-consciously remember them sitting on the ground outside my apartment singing ‘Happy Birthday’ to my younger sister while I slept inside. (They wouldn’t come inside because of the vomit smell. Fair.) My parents insisted I come home with them, for what would be a miserable week. I slept probably 50 of the next 72 hours. Also, my mom became ill. She was the first family member I took out with my pandemic stomach virus.
My little sister came home Wednesday night. She was already sick with a sinus infection, however, by the next morning I’d infected her. She was now vomiting and had to stay in bed while we had Thanksgiving at my older sister’s house. Later that night my Dad started puking, all over the place everywhere. I had hoped most of all I wouldn’t infect my dad, but I did. My dad getting sick was terrifying because he has Alzheimer’s and can’t communicate well, meaning he can’t articulate a complete sentence. Already so helpless, he was now having to suffer more, because of me.
I haven’t cried in months. Tonight I wept. All I can think about is how sad life is. My dad can’t communicate or do anything other than sit and watch TV. I also can’t help but feel sad for my mom and her life. My parents had a miserable marriage, but stayed together. Then both her parents had Alzheimer’s. Now she’s a full time caregiver for my dad. I’m not sure she has ever done anything for herself. I’m not even sure what would make her happy in life. All this also makes me think about my life. I think comedy and trying at comedy makes me happy, but maybe pursuing comedy is just selfish and superficial in the overall scheme of things? I don’t know. I don’t know a lot of things about life, but I guess I have learned that tragedy can trump hate and also, that you can bypass the ER waiting room if you’re shitting yourself.