Tag Archives: family

Conversations with The Family

Butterfly Sweaters

Scene: Friday night dinner at my grandparent’s

Players: Mom, Grammy, Grampy, Aunt, Uncle, Myself, Boyfriend

Background: My family all talks at once, usually we’re pretty good at keeping up with multiple conversations, but not always.

. . . .

Grammy: “I was watching the news the other day, and they were saying how it got so cold in Florida that one of the zoos had to take all the butterflies in the butterfly exhibit and move them inside to a warm place. The butterflies would have frozen!”

Me: “Wow, someone went out there and plucked each individual butterfly?”

Mom: “What if they missed one?”

Group in General: “Yeah, what if they missed one?” “Who wants to see butterflies at a zoo?” “Can butterflies freeze? And get frozen solid?” etc., etc.

Grammy: continuing “…and then they showed a chimpanzee putting on a sweater! He was putting on the sweater all by himself, just pulled the sweater right on!”

[silent pause]

Aunt: “A butterfly put on a sweater?!”

Boyfriend: “What does a butterfly sweater look like?!”

Myself, Uncle, Mother (who heard Grammy move on to the chimpanzee story): hysterical laughter, choking on beverages, etc.

Grammy: ‘No! The monkey! The monkey! Of course a butterfly didn’t put on a sweater!”

Aunt: “I was gonna say! Those delicate wings!”

Boyfriend: “No, really, what would a butterfly sweater even look like?”

Aunt: “It would need wing holes! Wing sleeves!”

Me: “Oh my God, why is this my life? Butterfly sweaters?! Seriously people.”

Grammy: “No one ever listens to me.”

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Mom’s New Headphones

My mom is slightly hard of hearing. She says “What?!” about eighty batrillion times a day and turns the volume on the TV up way, way too loud. She’s also constantly watching TV. So my brother, in one of his rare genius moments, bought her these headphones that enable her to hear the TV, without having the volume turned up on the television.

Life has improved drastically.

I come home, and the house is silent. There’s mom, on the couch, happily watching NCIS with her headphones. I go to bed at night and I can actually sleep! No more listening to Abby and Gibbs yammer on about some crime while I’m trying to count sheep. Our house is so peaceful.

Of course, the headphones have some drawbacks. She can hear the TV when she has them on, but she can’t hear anything else. The phone ringing, for instance. Or the dog crying because someone shut her in the basement by accident again. Or anyone speaking to her. This is mostly a problem if we happen to be watching a television show together.

Me: “Oh my god, did you see that girl? What a mess.”

Mom: *chews popcorn*

Me: “If I was on the Bachelor I would never do one of these cheesy intros.”

Mom: *yawns*

Me: “Hey Mom, did you tape that other show…oh, why do I bother.”

It makes watching TV with her kind of lame now. I mean before it was all “What did she say!? Rewind, I sneezed and didn’t hear it!” so at least now we can watch shows in one pass. I guess I’d rather have her sitting quietly than have my eardrums blown out by an episode of The Nanny.

The headphones also cause her to forget she’s wearing them and just go about her day in her own little world, with the headphones. She’ll put something on TV, slap on her headphones, and get things done. She’ll wander the house chuckling to herself and unable to hear any of us. It’s pretty annoying, because you don’t realize she’s “watching” TV until you try to talk to her and she completely ignores you. I couldn’t resist, and had to have a little fun with her the other day.

Me: “Mom where’s the spatula? Mom, hey…oh. You’re wearing your headphones. Can’t hear a thing I’m saying.” *thoughtful pause, smirk* “You smell funny! Those pajamas are dumb! You should stop eating so many cookies!”

Mom: “Hey! I can hear you, you know!”

Me: “Oh OF COURSE, that you heard!”

The headphones also cause her to zone out completely, typically in the middle of a task that requires attention. See, she’ll wear the headphones around the house, cleaning, cooking, whatever. Then something exciting will happen on her show, and she’ll race back to the couch to watch it, completely forgetting about what she was doing. Hence, the Burnt Toast Incident of New Year’s Eve.

Mom decided to have some toast before she went out on New Year’s Eve. Always smart to have some starch before you go out drinking. She put the toast in and wandered off to watch her show. I was getting ready in the bathroom. Our toaster SUCKS and burns everything, so you have to watch it really carefully. I just had a feeling she was going to burn her toast.

I couldn’t smell it burning, but I was getting worried so I went down the hall to check on her and her toast.

Black smoke was billowing out of the toaster oven.

“MOM! FIRE!!!” I screeched, not daring to go in the kitchen (hello, there was a fire). Mom, by some miracle, must have heard my screech, because she flew off the couch, flinging her headphones into the dog’s water dish by accident.

“Shiiiitttt!!! My toast! My headphones!” She stood in the kitchen for a moment, as if she was trying to figure out whether she should deal with the flames shooting out of the toaster oven or save her beloved headphones.

“Mom! Do something!” I shouted, frantically fanning the smoke away from me and opening windows. That seemed to snap her out of it.  She bravely unplugged the toaster and put out the flaming pumpernickel. We were lucky, but my brother and I knew it was only a matter of time before the headphones situation got out of hand.

We let her keep the headphones, but she has been forbidden to wear them while cooking.

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The Family

I typically refer to my family as “The Family.” I realize this makes us sound like mafioso (we’re not. I don’t think. We don’t have nearly enough money or fedoras for that) but it’s really the only expression that works. My friends have started doing it, too – “Oh no she didn’t! What did The Family think about that?” It’s made me realize what a freakish unit we are.

When something happens, it effects all of us. Stories spread through The Family very quickly. For instance, on Christmas when my Great Aunt said something horrific to my cousin’s new fiance, she was being confronted by my grandmother and The Family knew all about it before she was even finished uttering the words.

When that same fiance started turning my cousin into someone he is most certainly not and turning him against The Family, she became good as dead to us. When my uncle’s girlfriend went crazy a couple years ago and upset The Family – done. It seems like we’ve had a lot of relationship issues within The Family lately – boyfriends and girlfriends not meeting our strict approval. Through every knew instance of disapproval, my boyfriend gets a little more smug.

“They still love me! Your great aunt has never made me cry!”

“They do love you, but they’d love you more with a college degree. They talk about that all the time.”

“At least they’re still talking about me. When was the last time anyone mentioned your uncle’s crazy girlfriend?”


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Conversations with Mom II

Scene: Tonight, in the car, talking about what a horrid wretch my brother is. Grammy and Grampy are her parents, my grandparents.

Mom: When I was younger, I would never flip out the way he does! I would never have dreamed of using that type of language with Grammy and Grampy! Except for that one time.

Me: [laughing] Oh except for that one time? What was it about, do you remember?

Mom: Well, I was on the phone in my room with one of my girlfriends, and Grampy comes out of the bathroom like a raving loon. He wanted to know why there were so many tissues in the trash.

Me: Tissues in the trash?!

Mom: Yes, like I said, he was being a raving loon. Anyway, I was very emotional back then, so I immediately took the phone, while still talking to my girlfriend, and whipped it at his head. So he came at me, and I got up swinging and swearing and calling him every name in the book and some that I made up. Then he kicked me out. Well, fine then. Grammy was over her friend Beverly’s, so I walked myself on over to Beverly’s and told her that Grampy kicked me out. She must have had a few drinks, because she just started laughing hysterically. Then I told her what happened and she marched me right back home. And I didn’t talk to Grampy for months.

Me: Over tissues.

Mom: Yes. Then I felt really bad that we weren’t speaking, so Grammy made Grampy feel bad and said to him “What if something happened to her and you weren’t speaking!” So one night he came up to me and said “Do you have the time?” and things went back to normal after that.

Fast forward to later tonight, while we were taking out the trash.

Me: Why do we have so much trash?! Look at everyone else on the street, and look at us. Why are we like this?

Mom: I don’t know! That’s what Grampy was always yelling about, the trash! That’s why the tissues sent him over the edge.

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Conversations With Mom

The Scene: This weekend, while watching Say Yes to the Dress: Beverly Hills. One of the brides was “the only Indian signed with Vivid” (she was in adult entertainment).

Me:  “She doesn’t even look Indian.”

Mom: “She must mean she’s from India.”

Me: “…Yeah, that’s what Indians are, people from India.”

Mom: shakes her head at me like I’m an idiot – “And the other Indians. The ones who live here.”

Me: “Mom, the only INDIANS that live here are people from India, you’re thinking of Native Americans.”

Mom: “Well they USED to be Indians.”

Me: “They were never Indians, that was incorrect. They’ve always been Native Americans and Indians are people from India.”

Mom: “Stop trying to be all high and mighty and politically correct! They were Indians! Like cowboys and Indians?! a-woo-woo-woo-woo! You know!” (she started making “Indian” noises here, like the Lost Boys in Peter Pan.)

Me: “Okay, just stop. Stop it. You’re wrong and I’m right end of story.”

Fast-forward to yesterday in the car with my mom. She was describing the Sunday Drives they would go on when she was a kid.

Mom: “We would drive all the way up the highway and then turn around, and there used to be this place called the Deerskin Trading Post, and that was always a popular stop for us. They had a lot of Western stuff, moccasins, jewelry. I suppose YOU would call it ‘Native American’.”

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