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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Don't You Want to Stay Here?

As you know from a couple posts ago, I’m not the kind of guy into whose eye a bird might hypothetically shit. I’m the kind of guy into whose eye a bird has, in brutal reality, shat.

As such, it might complete the persona to think that I’m not the kind of person who wins things. This perception/assumption would not be wholly accurate. Several years ago, I won a pair of awesome tickets to see “The Lion King” at the Academy of Music—front and center orchestra seats. I called into a radio station at the exact right moment. Timing not being my specialty, I was exceptionally slackjawed with the disc jockey answered the phone. When she told me that I’d won the tickets, rather than screaming like a newly-minted Miss America, I asked her if she was sure.

Just a couple of weeks ago, a friend of mine sent out a mass-emailer to a bunch of people offering two free tickets to see the production of “The Mikado” in which she was playing Katisha. She was giving the tickets to whomever replied to her email first. I jumped on that “Send” button with both feet and, lo and behold, I’d won those bastards, too. With laughing song and merry dance.

Luck, though it would seem improbable, is spreading in my family like Da Herps. My mother and father were at a charity event for the local library in December and the grand prize of the silent auction was one week at a beautiful house at a New Jersey beach. My parents won.

“Daddy just put his name down because nobody was bidding on it and he was trying to stir up interest,” my mother said in her thin-lipped way, “I don’t even want to go.”

Neither, it seems, does anybody else. Well, my wife wants to go—she’s so sweet and naïve. She has no concept of the family drama and tumult that will ensue at this seemingly innocuous seaside retreat.

Or maybe she just doesn’t care. We could really use a vacation, after all. But, at 30, is a vacation with your parents actually a vacation, or is it more work than Work?

I’m kind of anxious to not find out. Going to Australia with my sister and my father at age 15, right around the time I discovered the inherent joys of playing with myself, was inconvenient and stressful enough.

The only other person who is even remotely excited about the beach house is my pain-in-the-ass middle sister who is delighted at the opportunity to tan her face and cleavage leather while her poor schlep husband probably stays at home with the baby. My father has already announced that there is “no fuck way” he will stay at the beach for a solid week.

“I have a business to run! What am I’m: fucking crazy here?!”

And my eldest sister will not go until scientists/astronauts have invented 650 SPF sunscreen.

And me? Oy. Can I still wear my shirt?

I sat out on the porch with my eldest sister this morning (she was wearing sunglasses and a big, floppy hat, and her twiggy arms were probably greased with 50 SPF) and discussed with her the beach house situation.

“Mom asked me to see if my friend Natalie was interested in taking the house for a week. I told her the value was $2,000, and Dad fuckin’ screamed at me because I should have told her it was $3,000.”

“Isn’t it sad that, here we are, a bunch of hapless assholes, and we have something nice plopped into our laps and we can’t even enjoy it?” I asked, shaking my head, staring off into the clouds behind my prescription sunglass lenses.

“I was saying that to Mom just last night—that this family is so fucked up none of us can enjoy anything.”

“Right, we’re all thinking about what terrible thing is going to happen next or come from the good thing.”

“Well, no, I think that’s just you and me,” my eldest sister said.


My mother came out onto the porch and sat across from me. My eldest sister immediately got up from her chair.

“Well,” she announced with a sigh, “I’m going to go to work and try not to kill myself.”

“Have fun, sweetie,” my mother replied. I stared at them. My sister kissed the top of my head and walked through the behemoth hedges that make entrance and egress to/from the porch nearly impossible without a machete. My father, one day, will cut them back or, more likely, die trying.

My mother and I stared at each other.

“Those are some sunglasses,” she said to me. I looked at her through the dark gray lenses. What do you say to something like that anyway? “Are they new?” she asked.

“No. They’re from the 1950s.”

“I meant, ‘are they new to you?’”

“No. I got them three years ago.”

She looked at me. The night before, I had told her I had put in applications to become a sheriff’s deputy. It was no wonder we were behaving like this.

“Are we going to this fucking place down the shore?” I asked with typical eloquence.

“Sure,” she answered with equally typical enthusiasm.

“Why don’t you just give it to her,” I said, referencing my middle sister, the one with the Africa-sized ego, “she’s the only one who wants to go.”

“It’s worth $2,000—I’m not giving it to anybody,” my mother announced.

“I thought it was worth $3,000.”

“Whatever,” she replied, getting up from her porch chair. “The baby’s sleeping-- I have to check on him.” The baby, who was, of course, at her house. After all, why should he ever be with his mother? I followed her into the house.

“I have to use the bathroom,” I said.

“Well, don’t flush.”

“Jesus fucking Christ—I haven’t taken a shit all day, what do you want me to do—let it ferment in the bowl until it becomes alcohol?”

“Go upstairs, for Christ’s sake,” my mother instructed. I did as I was told. There were 7,452 skin-care products lining the sink, the walls, and on the toothbrush and soap holder. It looked like a Nivea testing facility. There were green, terry-cloth gloves hanging up in the shower. My eldest sister, apparently, showers with gloves on. I was very, very disturbed.

When I came downstairs, my mother was holding the baby, who looked at me, and semi-smiled, the way I do.

I opened the front door and put on my hat.

“Don’t you want to stay here?” she asked me.

“Absolutely not,” I replied, stepping out into the hot June sun, slamming the door behind me.

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