Tuesday, January 19, 2010

An Old Family Story

I was talking to my father on the phone last night and he brought up this family story that my brother had told him over the holidays (apparently my father has no memory of it). I don't know why, but before my father could even say one word of the story, I knew exactly the story he was going to tell. And I was right.

So, my grandmother (mother's mother) came to live with us when I was about 11 or 12. She was childish and petty, I actually feel that she was even a bit evil. She was the type of person to play one person off of another. To get in the middle of disagreements between my parents. To snoop in people's dresser drawers. To take clothes and other items and throw them away or donate them without asking. She was constantly telling us what bad children we were and that we would never amount to anything and that we were nothing compared to the shining example of my cousins (I already admired my cousins, so I couldn't argue with her there. Still, it hurt to hear what I already suspected confirmed by an adult). She sat like an evil spider in her room waiting for what trouble she could cause, how she could get attention, how she could make someone feel like crap, or whatever. WIth the wisdom of age and experience I can now look back on this time and realize that she was probably an incredibly insecure person, but I still can't feel any affection for her.

Evil Grandmother was not a cook, my mother did most of the cooking in the house and enjoyed experimenting with different cuisines. My father was going through a period of unemployment and so my mother had gotten a job at a local bank. The bank had evening hours on Friday nights and so one Friday my mother asked Evil Grandmother if she could cook dinner. She left out a simple recipe for her to follow and Evil Grandmother made it -- some kind of pasta sauce.

Well, it's dinner time, Evil Grandmother is all smug and proud of herself and puts the bowl of sauce on the table. We all (my brother, father and I) sit down and look at the sauce and look at her, then look at each other. And then there is a long, silent, drawn-out pause.

Finally my brother says, "uh, so where is the spagetti?" (We called pasta "spagetti" in thos days.)
Evil Grandmother: "spagetti? your mother never said anything about spagetti. she just left the recipe for sauce, nothing else."


Brother: "So, whadja' expect us to do, slop it into bowls and eat it with a spoon???"
Evil Grandmother runs from the table in tears while hilarity ensues (you can bet she made sure we all paid for that one later.)

Father: "Oh great. Now I'm going to have to go up there and talk to her. "

I don't know why, but memories of this scene can make me laugh until I cry. I guess it's one of those "i guess you had to be there" sort of things. And knowing the players involved helps too.

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