Bob and I got there at about 1:15 on Thursday, after an exciting funfilled ride over fog-obscured mountains and through driving rain. They were in the process of getting the tables set up and dinner ready; thus our arrival time was nearly perfect in avoiding having to do anything at all to assist.
Grandma was in the living room dealing with the tables. This consisted of repeatedly directing J1 and Uncle B (her son) to get folding chairs, specifically the blue folding chairs, as other folding chairs which were easier to find were inadequate in some fashion I was not able to discover. The two were not moving fast enough for her satisfaction and she was growing more and more agitated — probably because she had been cut out of the actual food preparation and could hear Aunt L (her daughter) in the kitchen wailing about the mashed potatoes.
Meanwhile, my other Uncle, Uncle K (L’s husband) is sitting on the couch with a giant Christmas bow perched jauntily on his head. Why? I don’t know. But his 16 year old daughter was horrified by this evidence of her father’s lameness. Coupled with the random comments he kept interjecting at intervals, she spent the afternoon in agonies of embarrassment.
Mom and Aunt L are in and out of the kitchen. Aunt, as previously noted, is freaking out about the mashed potatoes which she feels did not come out well (and she was correct) and announcing the fact to everyone and making them uninterested in eating them at all. Mom is annoyed because she a) was forced to come to NY for Thanksgiving b) ended up cooking half the meal in NH and transporting it 200 miles and c) asked them to find a place where we could go out to eat and have a pleasant unstressful meal like we usually do, but they did not do this. So she keeps whispering random comments to me as I come into the kitchen, and making remarks about how everything is cold and doesn’t taste good.
J1 is being his usual asshat self, aided and abetted by Uncle B.
So finally we sit down. Grandma is surprised to find J1 (who is 26) sitting with the adults instead of banished to the kitchen table with J2 and the twins (who, are, of course 18 and 16).
Grandma starts yammering about wanting to say grace, but people are still not seated at the table, as they are still transporting food from the tiny kitchen to the tiny living room. So my aunt yells ‘Grace!’ from the hallway while in transit and mom says ‘amen’ and J1 starts shoveling food onto his plate. Finally /everyone/ is sitting, and grandma starts talking about grace again, and mom is all ‘Leeann said it already, Betty’.
The matter is settled. So, we eat. J1, as mentioned, has put a ton of food on his plate. He shoves half of a new potato into his mouth and proceeds to choke on it. Literally choke. Eventually he manages to puke up the half a potato into his napkin while Uncle K yells at him ‘do you need the heimlich?!’, the proceeds to whallop him hard on the back — after he’s started to breathe again.
After dinner, there is pie. This manages to happen more or less without incident.
It’s now 3pm. Already I am ready to leave.
The table is broken down again and put away and the folding chairs are put back onto the porch. Then mom brilliantly suggests that we play a game. They decide to play Taboo. I decide that I will not play, but I stupidly offer to be in charge of the eggtimer and the score.
Now, I do not like to play Taboo with the large group we usually have around at Thanksgiving because it’s never a pleasant, fun game. There is always an uncle who refuses to obey the rules and buzzes people at random times. There is always some person who doesn’t understand what’s going on and keeps asking for clarification. There’s always bitching about whether someone got the answer or not. There’s always someone who forgets what team they’re on and blurts out hints to the other team. And it always always goes too long.
This afternoon continued the streak. They decided to play until /50/, which meant the game was endless.
A sample round:
J1 is the person trying to get people to guess his word. If you’ve never
played, basically you get a card with a word on it that you must get people
to say. There are 5 additional words below that you may not say while doing
this. If you say one of them, a person watching you will buzz a buzzer and
you’ll lose a point.
J1: The white ____.
Others: House? Album?
Uncle B: *presses buzzer*
J1: !!! No one got it?!
Grandma: Is J1 on my team?
J2: That was retarded.
J1: It was so obvious. You’re retarded.
J2: Fuck you!
Uncle B: *presses buzzer*
I fled as soon as the game was over, got my book and went into the kitchen, where no one was. Except as soon as I went there it was a signal for Bob to chase after me and for everyone else to troop in and out.
It was only like 5pm and there was absolutely nothing at all to do, unless I wanted to go out and sit in the living room and fight over the television.
So I read. And read. Mom came in and we played cards for a while. Finally it was 8pm and I decided to join the group and watch Survivor.
By this time a lot of people had gone; J2 and the twins were taken by my aunt to her house for the night at around 6. So it was just me, mom, J1, Bob, Uncle B and grandma. The tv watching was mostly quiet, except for any time when we had to change the channel, because for some reason the remote was not working correctly and took about 5 minutes of button mashing for it to operate.
By the time the Seinfeld thing came on at 10, almost everyone had departed. Finally it was just Bob and I, and then I went upstairs to sleep.
The next day I woke up at around 8:30.
I thought about spending the whole morning dealing with everyone.
I went back to sleep for a while.
Bob and I finally dared leave the room at around 11.
We came downstairs to find that mom was annoyed with Uncle B because he’d been given a list of things needed to be done around the house when he arrived and had yet to begin. He and J1 were now out doing things outside and she was cracking the whip. Grandma cornered me and Bob and asked if we could put the cover on the air conditioner in the room we were in. We couldn’t exactly say no, so I found my shoes and went back upstairs. The A/C is a wall unit, suspended somehow through a hole sawed in the side of the house. Placing the cover on it requires slinking out of the window and edging along the roof to reach the protruding half. I did not die, and thankfully found upon my return to the downstairs that all other chores had been claimed.
Aunt and twins and J2 returned a short while later, and then it was another afternoon of boredom. Mom wanted to go to the movies and out to eat, but had a hell of a time getting anyone to settle on anything. She and grandma were being horribly girly and would NOT settle on a time to go to dinner. I tried to suggest a time, but mom was shocked by the earliness of it and so nothing came of that. And yet, when I found out the movie times, 7pm was ‘so late’ to go to the movies. What. The. Hell.
Finally I left the living room to find that almost everyone else was gathered in the family room playing Texas hold-em. Informed of the departure time stalemate, J2 yelled ‘We’re going at 4:30!’. And that was that.
Around 2:30 there was another altercation. J2 and Matt were bored. They wanted to get out of the house. J2 demanded the car keys from mom, who balked. Jeff got pissed and started calling her names and swearing, which is ever an effective method of changing her mind.
However, I was desperate to get out of there for a while, and so I offered to take the boys around. The three of us left, much to my relief. J2 continued irate at mom’s besmirching of his adulthood by refusing to let him drive the car, raving about it the whole time we were out.
We began our tour at Target, where J2 complained that he was hungry. I reminded him that dinner being at 4:30 was his own idea; it could have been earlier. He boggled. We went to Toys R Us where the boys spent much time making fun of the little childrens’ books about going to the potty and complaining about the selection of Transformers.
Finally, around 4, we left the mall area, stopping by Wendy’s so J2 could have some french fries. We got home around 5-10 past 4 to find J1 just disappearing into the bathroom to allegedly take a shower.
Mom was annoyed at this.
People were milling around like idiots, not getting into cars. Finally I said ‘let’s go’ and Bob and I went out to our car. J2 and Matt followed, and Amanda got in with us, so the 5 of us left for the restaurant. We got there and got them setting up the table for the large group. Everyone else showed up 5 or 10 minutes later.
We were seated next to a table of nuns. But this did not stop my family from swearing and bitching at each other all through the meal, oh no! J1 and Uncle B spent much of the time annoying J2, who naturally retaliated.
Discussion turned to the movies we were going to see, specifically to Alexander, which J2 and I were going to go see. The Gay was mentioned, and J1 expressed his shock. First that they would gratuitously put it in the film, then, after being informed that yes, Alexander was bi, that Ancient Greece would have such things going on.
After the meal, our car went over to the mall to go to the movies. No one else came with us, because as mom had said earlier, 6:45 showings are apparently ‘so late’, and they’d rather sit around with each other all night.
J2 and I went and saw Alexander. Which was ok. Main problem was the same problem as King Arthur: good idea, BORING execution. Bob picked us up when it was over (he and the twins saw Incredibles again, and it was out much earlier) and we went back to grandma’s house. Then, happy day! Bob and I left. J1, who’d managed to get mom lost on the way to grandma’s house, asked us anxiously if we knew were we were going. I really had nothing to say to him.
We came home on the turnpike. Stopped once for a snack and once for gas. Got home around 2:45am. Bob stayed up pretty late playing a game, and I read for a while, but I was too tired to come online.