Beach Blanket Bonfire Bingo, you’re out

Years and years ago I decided, as was usual, to go to my parents’ house for the weekend. I frequently drove the 100 miles to visit. I’d bring my laundry and chill out and watch TV (something I did not have at my apartment) and enjoy home cooked meals – some of which I’d cook myself.

istock_000007909523xsmallSo I called but got the answering machine. I figured they were out somewhere and drove out anyway. I got there and the house was empty. No problem, I just settled in. But when it got later and later I began to wonder where they were. Usually I knew if they were going away because I called every week at least once. They never called me because my father was very conscious of his phone bill and was happier when the call was on mine. He was open about this. I went to bed feeling uneasy.

The next morning I ran into a neighbor who told me they had gone to “BeautifulBeachTown” 4 hours away for a few days. I thought this very odd; disconcerting. I finished my laundry and drove back to my apartment. Days later I called for the third time and my mother answered. She said Oh honey, we had the most fabulous time at the beach in the cottage that Aunt Perfect rented. Everyone was there! Grandmother CutiePie and Sainthood (my brother) and his friend NearNeighbor, and the cousins all brought friends. We had a huge lobster bake and bonfire on the beach and there were so many lobsters that everyone had more than one and we sang songs and swam in the ocean and went for long walks on the beach. The kids brought tents and we made frozen drinks and had corn on the cobb. It was such a great time!

ist2_4251023-depressionI was dumbstruck.

Why wasn’t I invited? I had spoken to Sainthood and both my parents and even Aunt Perfection, who lived another long distance phone call on my dime away, in the weeks leading up to this family getaway. Even the cousins’ friends’ girlfriends had been invited.

We must have told you?

No.

Oh surely we mentioned it. We’ve been planning this for ages!

No. And if you really thought so, did you not notice that I did not RSVP or get the address and/or directions to this amazing family event? Did you notice that I was not there? How did this never come up in all those phone calls over the last few weeks and months?

Oh come on. We’d not have left you out intentionally.

But I was left out. I was not there. This must have taken weeks and weeks of planning. I wish I’d gotten the same invitation and consideration as the friends’ cousins’ girlfriends.

This would come up later and I’d be told, “Get over it, it’s not a big deal.” Is that the kind of family that we are? That everyone except one person can be invited to a “family” trip? Had it been Sainthood that was left out we’d never have heard the end of it. But that would never have happened to Sainthood.

ist2_5537776-diner-is-servedMore than a decade later, after my mother had died, I invited my boyfriend and another friend – a mutual friend of ours from whom we had met – to the big house for a cookout. I invited Dear Old Dad and Sainthood of course. It was at DOD’s house after all, but I’d have invited him anyway, anywhere. I was trying to keep him busy in those months after she died. He came to soirees and friends’ studios and receptions. All because I had invited him. He seemed to always enjoy himself.

So we were sitting on the deck eating and it was dark and beautiful out and I noticed that Sainthood had a splotch of ranch dressing on his chin. I get upset when I excuse myself to use the bathroom and a glance in the mirror assures me that I have food on my face or on my teeth and no one has even told me, so I wanted to point it out. Sainthood is extremely sensitive and I know that and always try to navigate that with care and respect.

So I pointed way out to the land behind ours and said, “Are those horses? Maybe the neighbor’s horses are loose again? Look – you can barely make out the silhouettes from here”, and as everyone was looking I nudged Sainthood under the table and gestured at his chin and made a wiping motion. He gave me a really nasty look and huffed inside. Later he told me that was rude of me. Rude? Creating a diversion so I can point this out so no one will hear and you’ll not be embarrassed when you see it later? Should I have announced it?

The next day my boyfriend said, “Ya know Caramel (not my real fake name), you are always saying how your brother and father are so nice and so great and are like your best friends. But what I saw, and MutualFriend noticed it too, is that they are like a clique you are not part of and will never be granted membership in. I’m sorry. That’s what we saw and it was painful to see.”

Sometimes things need to be pointed out to us.

ist2_7155603-arists-palletteAnd then I related this anecdote to my friend DesignerGirl who said, “Well I didn’t want to say this but I feel the same way. That night at my soiree your father kept saying how, when this had been your studio it was never this clean. And no matter how many times I pointed out that you are an artist and use heavy equipment and crazy, messy materials and I am a designer and use a computer and a desk, he just kept saying it and it became so unfunny that I was sad and embarrassed for you and finally had to excuse myself to greet other guests. It made me really uncomfortable. You asked me to send him an invitation and that’s really nice but honey, you need to get a break once in a while. That story about the burial plot is not funny either, it’s just sick.”

ist2_4899240-jesus-christFor in the months leading to my mother’s death, DOD came home one day and announced that he’d bought a burial plot. He’d bought a plot for four. Well, that made sense because there were two parents and two kids who’d quite likely never get married; one by obstinate choice and the other, well, because no one could fill the role of his mother.

Then he announced he was having my other, deceased, brother, ConflictedBeautifulPoet, dug up and moved to it. What? He didn’t want to pay the lease on ConflictedBeautifulPoet’s grave any longer and could save money this way. In my family it always came down to money. What about the fact that this leaves one of us out? I’d never told them I planned to be cremated. Catholicism and its tenets was up there with money in our family, it was revered. “I guess you kids will have to fight over the last spot” said he, RighteousCheapskate, and he and Sainthood laughed. Oh, how they laughed. They thought this so funny in fact that they’d retell this story to friends and relatives countless times, who’d thus look confused and uncomfortable and change the subject.

ist2_5298701-fairy-starsThe plywood walls on my Happy Disney Family invented version of things fell to the ground, sending up a poof of dust. I will probably always be dusting myself off. I preferred that version, but it was a facade, like a movie set, built not for permanence but for as long as the scene called for and until the Director yelled, “Cut!”

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Explore posts in the same categories: A shaky family support system, adopted family relations, conflicted feelings, Feeling isolated, Fitting into your adopted family, Rivals for adopted mother love, The Disney version of events is not real, What did I do wrong?

2 Comments on “Beach Blanket Bonfire Bingo, you’re out”

  1. cheerio Says:

    wow. are these people considered mentally stable? like maybe they have ‘something’ between their ears… but the chest cavity must be empty…no heart.
    I’m sorry to hear all the pain they seem to inflict on you.
    sigh…

  2. barb Says:

    this is so freakin’ terrible, but you tell it so beautifully. if that’s any consolation. you are amazing & wonderful, and i hope there are people in your life who appreciate you as such. (i’d totally invite you to any shindig i was having…cause you know i’ve got the market cornered on cigs & coffee)


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