Monday, March 24, 2008
Guess Who's Side of the Family Does Not Know About the Blog
Merrick's best friend and probable future husband, Lachlan, has been in Costa Rica for a week.
The Matron left several messages on the Cotner family answering machine. She selected a perky, upbeat tone that did not reveal her desperation: "Hi Cotners! Hey, this is Mary. We can't remember how long you're gone? Was it a whole week? Wow. So. Merrick is hoping that the minute Lachlan's little feet touch St. Paul soil, the two can talk or somehow convene."
While Merrick wailed: it's a message again!
Lachlan loves him right back. He called from Chicago O'Hare on Saturday night and the two conveniently arranged a play date for the very first time they could see one another: Easter Sunday.
Even though we're practicing Buddhists, the Easter Bunny visits. So does Santa. Yes, the Matron is a complete hypocrite.
Scarlett: "Mom, what is Easter, anyway?"
The rushed Matronly reply was too theologically funky to repeat. Suffice it to say that when she was finished, Scarlett said: "That's creepy."
The Matron vows to do a better job next time.
So after Merrick ingested large amounts of chocolate bunnies, John dropped him and a large bag of weapons off at Lachlan's for the day.
Because the Matron and her husband come from long lines of Roman Catholics, the extended family offers feasts and celebrations, which the Matron (in her role as hypocrite) enjoys.
As for her in-laws? She likes them to varying degrees. Some more than others. Some decidedly less. She is inordinately fond of her mother-in-law, even though they once had this conversation.
Matron: "How about that war in Iraq, Sophie?"
Grandma Sophie: "I have no problem with that war. It's going just fine."
The Matron had no reply.
So the remaining family heads off to Grandma Sophie's for feast and conversation. In the van, John says: "Let's not tell them Merrick's not with us. I bet nobody will notice. "
Two of John's three siblings were to attend, with a total of 8 children, counting Merrick. Great big bunch of chaos.
Stryker: "If anyone asks, say Merrick's in the game room!"
John: "Wherever you are, Merick is somewhere else. If you're up and they ask, he's down. He'll just be lost in the chaos."
Scarlett: "Oh! We should have brought his shoes to put by the front door!"
Stryker: "Wait! He left a sweatshirt in the van. I'll bring that in and hang it casually on a chair!"
Matron: "I'm impressed. Nobody lies like this family."
We plotted entrance, exit, dinner.
When we arrived, why that Merrick? He fairly shot downstairs! Go, Merrick!
Uncle Jim: "Hey, where's Merrick?"
Matron: "Oh, he's around here somewhere."
Aunt Judy: "Where's that little guy?"
The youngest cousin, Nicole, went searching: "Merrick! Merrick!"
Scarlett: "Nicole, I'll play cards with you."
Nicole kept wondering why she just couldn't find Merrick. But the Matron's family was sharp. They identified the weak link and got right on it. Scarlett stuck to Nicole's side, glue and distraction.
In the midst of this trick, the Matron attempted the art of conversation.
One of the things that she loves best about her mother-in-law is that when Grandma Sophie was in her late fifties, she enrolled in a community college and earned a degree at sixty.
This two-year community college degree makes Grandma Sophie the only other degreed person in the room. The first would be the Matron, with her big ole honking and glowing P H D.
In addition, the Matron would bet her bottom dollar (which she may some day be able to see if the real estate market doesn't improve) that she and John are the only people in the room who have:
recently read a book
ever attempted chopsticks
ever voted Democratic, let alone Green (ack! Uncle Jim is fainting!)
not once been visited by a paid stripper
listened to jazz
can tell you how many U.S. soldiers have died in Iraq (4,000)
The in-laws? These are not the Matron's people. But, oddly, they are. They're family.
The family moans over the general state of the world. For sure, Barack Obama or Hilary Clinton would destroy civilization as we know it. Those gay people should just die--they're that bothersome on every level. By God, my gun is my best friend and no senator is going to take that away.
Remember Saturday's post? Being both pro and sociologist, the Matron was unabashedly observing.
Clang, clang! Grandma Sophie gets everyone's attention, fork to glass.
"I'll tell you what's destroying this country! It's one thing and I know it!"
She has everyone's complete attention.
"Premarital sex! You can trace every single problem in the country to premarital sex. Everything! Premarital sex!"
Then that room full of people debated this theory. Chewed on it from different angles, trying to see if had staying power, legs. The Matron had to pinch herself, just to make sure she wasn't dreaming.
And then that room full of people sat down to a sit-down dinner, all those 7 bright smiling child-faces glistening with ham grease and gravy.
Nobody asked about Merrick. Not one word.
There was a lot of this: "Mark! Did you eat a bite of that potato? Put some gravy on that and eat half before you get up."
"Scott! You cannot move until you have taken corn."
"Bennett! Where is your fruit salad? You can't stop eating until you've had fruit salad."
The Matron's children? Stryker took nothing but seven slices of Polish sausage, which he heartily enjoyed. Scarlett had mashed potatoes without gravy (two servings), one buttered roll and some fruit. The Matron and John had absolutely no comment on what their children ingested.
Grandma Sophie: "My goodness, I'll be glad when these kids learn to eat."
And when they were leaving --- four hours later -- Grandma Sophie said, "Where's that Merrick! I need to give him a hug."
"He's in the van," shot Stryker. "Just ran out."
And Grandma rolled her eyes, kissed the other two and made note that Merrick owed her a hug.