The Aunts Honey had difficult childhoods. Born to immigrant parents from Tripoli Syria, they were forced to work like animals so their father could sit on his ass and reap the benefits. There were 6 children, 3 of each, who spent their formative years as indentured servants. Even their brother, Mr. Larger Than Life, was forced, at the tender age of 6, to go out on the street corner to peddle newspapers. It didn't matter if the weather was in the subzero range, if he didn't work, he got a beating. If not for the grace of a kindly physician, my father in law probably would have frozen to death trying to earn a living for his slacker father. This doctor would bring the boy inside his office to warm up and would buy all of his papers. Their friendship lasted a lifetime along with a misguided notion that this particular doctor was the most talented practitioner in all of medicine. Ever.
As other folks of Middle Eastern heritage will confirm, every neighbor is a cousin. Except the Middle Eastern muslims. They weren't cousins, they were the enemy. Mr. Larger Than Life speaks fondly of getting his ass soundly beaten for playing with the muslim children in the neighborhood. He wasn't allowed to play with Jewish children either. In their particular cultural melting pot neighborhood, that left his cousins.
As teens, when the children would come home in the evening and head upstairs, their father would whack them on the tops of their heads with his Shriners ring, which he'd turned inward so that the raised part of the ring was to his palm. There was no particular reason for this peculiar show of affection. I'm sure they all had interesting Shriners geometric imprints on their skulls. Aunt Honey the Second probably took the brunt of this. I'm convinced it stole her intellect. It was either the ringings she took or the fact that her father made her drop out of high school so she could work and support him that made her
appear dumb. One of these things was responsible for her becoming a bobblehead. Poor Aunt Honey the Second was not allowed to have a thought of her own. Nor was she allowed to marry. It was her duty, until her father died, to stay home and support him. She'd had two marriage proposals she was pressured to turn down. Don't get me wrong here, she wasn't a complete simpleton. She could be as mean as her sisters, Evil and Honey the First. I know for a fact, she was one bitter old lady (in sheep's clothing.)
We know a lot of this early family history is true because we ran across school records for Mr. Larger Than Life and his siblings. They were tucked away in my father in law's attic. Even back in the 1930s, social workers were sent to the home at the request of the school. In turn, they'd documented their concerns about the abuse and neglect these kids suffered at the ring hand of their father.
Interestingly, not a one of them had harsh feelings for their father. They adored him, Shriners ring and all. When he died, Aunt Honey the First was the most distraught. At his funeral, she attempted to jump in the casket with him. She wailed and tore the curtains off the wall in the funeral home. She was so destructive and demonstrative in her grief that the funeral director had to tell Mr. Larger Than Life that if he didn't get her to knock it off, she'd be banned from the funeral (he was probably too afraid to tell her himself.) I'm certain this is the only service in this funeral home's history that didn't turn a profit.
I got a front seat to an exhibiton of this very physical demonstration of grief when Aunt Evil draped herself over my father in law, as he lay intubated and on life support in his ICU bed two years ago. She begged him not to leave her alone-she didn't want to be the last. It was all very dramatic, loud and worthy of an Emmy. The whole show rang false and what fell from her eyes were crocodile tears. For the entire week he was on life support, she visited once. For 10 minutes. Later, I would ponder why she said she didn't want to be the last sibling left since they had a younger brother who was still alive. I think the youngest was spoiled and they all hated him. Therefore, in their twisted minds, since he didn't suffer the abuse growing up that they had, he was a nonentity. Like Aunt Honey the Second, he is a bit on the slow side. Unlike the rest of his siblings, he is a very nice man. To rectify this, he married a bitch. And once again, I've digressed from my original story.
Anyways, a few days after their father's funeral, the Aunts caught wind that my mother in law had used a vacuum to clean her home and they went ballistic (I wonder who ratted her out?). It was unheard of to be so callous and uncaring of their customs and they decided to teach her a lesson for using electric appliances in the immediate aftermath of Pa's death. She shouldn't have used anything electric or battery operated for a full month. No TV, no radio, no vacuum, nothing electric and nothing that brought pleasure was to be utilized. How stupid could she be? Like Aunt Em, who was punished for casting aspersions on the local news anchor, my mother in law was shunned for months. Although they ultimately allowed her back into the family fold, they never forgave her. Her flippant attitude was a topic of discussion for decades.
Some years later, my mother in law was again ostracized for daring to send the family a Christmas card with an owl stamp. The Aunts were inordinately fearful of owls. According to The Owl Pages, in Arabia, the owl is a bad omen; one that will steal your children in the middle of the night. Why they worried, I have no idea; they had no children who could be stolen! Now, my mother in law had a great sense of humor. I'm not convinced the owl stamp debacle was entirely innocent. In my mind, I can see her at the post office asking, "say Mr. Postmaster, do you have any stamps with owls?" She knew they suffered from severe owl phobia. Perhaps it was her way of getting back at the Aunts. In my heart of hearts, I hope it was.
Don't miss The Aunts Honey, Act 4 where you will learn how Aunt Honey the Second was directly responsible for killing her sister.