Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Aunts Honey, Act 2

The child in gold is all the proof the Aunts needed that their nephew had married a hussy.

So, where was I? Oh yeah, I remember; I was still smarting over the only a virgin should wear white remark. It's interesting to note that Aunt Honey the First, who had the nerve to say this to a bride, on her wedding day, was the same one who deserted her sick husband. Some time after her divorce, she found herself a new man. For all I know, maybe she found him before her divorce and that's the real reason she scrubbed her dishes until her hands bled. For twenty years, she and her new man were doing the horizontal hokey pokey. Although he was free from tuberculosis, he wasn't exactly free from other things. He had a slight problem that he just couldn't shake: his wife! And Honey the First had the nerve to comment on my white gown! If I'd had this dirt 21 years ago, I'd not have silenced my tongue. If you can believe it, back then, I was a bigger hothead than I am now.

Of course, that would not have bode well for family harmony. No one on earth could hold a grudge as good as the Aunts. They were expert at this. They were also adept at involving the entire family, indeed, the entire extended family in their grudges. What else did they have to do besides sit at home, watch Entertainment Tonight and plot the havoc they'd wreak on whomever they felt had recently slighted them? That was their evening, watching Channel 7 News with anchorman Bill Bonds (the biggest lush in town) and ogling John Tesh (not exactly my cuppa) on ET. And what about that Mary Hart? "Slut." Like my husband said in the comments on the last post, Aunt Honey the First used to get up and kiss the TV screen when Dean Martin came on. She'd say to her sister, "oh honey, isn't he beautiful?" They loved these men. If you happened to express that you couldn't possibly care less about any of them, they wouldn't speak to you for months. They'd take this comment as personal insult. Just ask Aunt Em. She was on the outs for months because she didn't think Bill Bonds was all that. Six months. This was a typically loaded question from Aunt Honey the First: "so honey, tell us, which news station do you like to watch?" Answering could be as dangerous as walking through a minefield.

When my husband would ask me to go see the Aunts, I'd try to find excuses to avoid it. I abhorred those visits. Jesus, these women weren't MY aunts-they were HIS. Begging would inevitably ensue, forcing me to go visit them. In his defense, he hated it too. He did it to shut up please Mr. Larger Than Life. Breakfast was the easiest time to stop by (also the cheapest meal to serve.) They loved to cook breakfast. Unlike other Arabic families, these two did not put out a big spread. To the contrary, we'd always eat before we went in an attempt to stave off starvation. Aunt Honey the Second would make a big deal of rifling through the fridge and whipping up an egg. One egg per person (if more than one egg was available.) One piece of toast per person with pats of butter and packages of jelly these two stole from area restaurants. There she'd be at the stove, head bobbing, trying to fry an egg when Aunt Honey the First would scream at her, "you're doing it all wrong!" An argument would break out over the best way to fry an egg and the next thing you know, the visit would be over. Easy Peasy! I was never so grateful as I was when my son was old enough to make these treks with my husband and I finally got to stay home. Don't tell him, but this is the real reason I had that boy!

Aunt Honey the First, how can I put this diplomatically? Well, she was IMPOSSIBLE to please. Eventually, with effort, most people can be satisfied. Not her. Even the way her sister cooked an egg could cause a meltdown. I never went out to dinner with her when she didn't make a big stink over what was served. Whatever it was, wherever it was, her plate always got sent back, sometimes, more than once in a meal. Her dish, no matter what, was never good enough. We could have been eating at a restaurant with three Michelin stars and she'd have found a reason to return her food to the kitchen. I'm quite certain, waiters and chefs hated her. Lesser chains of restaurants took to hiding condiments.

Given her own culinary expertise and hostessing skills, I find this oddly funny. Years ago, when my daughter graduated from high school, we threw a party. It was so hot outside that we decided to serve easy to handle food. We had catered pita sandwiches, cold pasta salads, fresh fruit and vegetable platters and beautiful pastries. More than once, Aunt Honey the First asked "honey, where is the hot food?" Aunt Honey the Second, never far from the other Honey, as usual, bobbed her head in agreement; she wanted to know too. There was no hot food. In their minds, I'd committed the biggest hostess blunder of all, in the entire 2,000 year history of their family line. There was no hot Arabic food at this most auspicious of events. I'd had a party and made no baked kibbee, no grape leaves and no rice. You'd have thought this was the beginning of an international incident. I'm quite certain I was the topic of discussion for days. Well, it's to be expected. After all, look what he married. Hussy. I've heard, a good Arabic wife is only as good as her next tray of baklava. I didn't make that either.

Every year, I'd host Christmas at our house which was always a burden with these two. They had a sister with whom they preferred to spend this holiday. Although I had no issues with that, Mr. Larger Than Life, did. He'd insist we invite them. We would. In order to accommodate their busy holiday dance card, I would have to serve up dinner at a time convenient to them. They'd show up in the biggest rush to eat, exchange gifts and get the hell out of my house so they could go where they really wanted, Aunt Evil's house. There wasn't even time for the usual pleasantries. They'd always tell us what they bought Aunt Evil and her children for gifts-it was always something expensive and elaborate. Every year, they'd buy us a gift and make a big fuss over the presentation. Mr Larger Than Life, himself capable of spewing the loaded question, would always ask, "aren't they just such thoughtful and wonderful women?" Indeed. I'd like to point out here that if we'd disagreed, we'd have been screamed at. So yes, they were so thoughtful and wonderful; they'd re-gifted us what we'd given them the previous year. They must have been in such a rush to get to Aunt Evil's, they'd forgotten what we'd given them and commited this faux pas. After a couple of years of this, I got wise and gave them gifts I'd enjoy getting back the next year. I still have many of these items. I'm sure my husband's cousins, due to a complete mix up, have the rest.

Be sure to tune in for The Aunts Honey, Act 3 to get tips on appropriate demonstrations of mourning, or in other words, how not to get expelled from a funeral home.

10 comments:

laurie said...

when they asked where the hot food was, you should have offered to cook them an egg. hahahaha! i LOVE these women! because all i have to do is read about them, and they make great stories.

Wilde Thyme Knits said...

I agree with Laurie, they make great stories, but poor you having to deal with them. Sounds agonisingly familiar though!

Rositta said...

What, no Baklava, wow you really blew it huh, lol...makes me glad my husbands family live in Greece...ciao

Rudee said...

Laurie, they were a pain in the ass but such memorable characters.

Wilde thyme, this is why My Big Fat Greek Wedding struck a chord deep within all women!

Rositta, you will have your share for the next seven weeks. Better take a lot of crunchy peanut butter!

Brenda said...

Nice to hear other people have fabulous stories to tell about their family members. By the way...you and your husband are adorable!!!! And your daughter!!!! She is BEAUTIFUL!!!! Your wedding picture reminded me of mine when I weighed 98 lbs. I wish I could have that body back for just one more day in my life.....

I enjoy hearing about Mr. Larger Than Life. And it is fun to write about how knitpicky some people are....because in the real world they are NOT fun! I love stories about family events..can't wait for part III.

The Rotten Correspondent said...

Oh, my. You have just brought up more buried memories with one post than I think I can handle.

Wow.

Rudee said...

Thank you Brenda. I don't recall what age I was when I weighed a mere 98 pounds. When I looked at this picture, I thought, gee it would be nice to weigh 140 pounds again. I won't tell you how many pounds I am away from that!

My daughter? She always looked like a little princess-she still does.

Rudee said...

RC, I know you have these same characters in your family. I don't doubt for a minute that we may be cousins!

Sandy said...

beautiful wedding photo of all of you.

Rudee said...

Thank you Sandy.