Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Plus You

I was born into the most remarkable and eccentric family I could possibly have hoped for.

I didn't say that, actress Maureen O'Hara did, but it may as well have been me. And while I love the remarkable eccentrics I share blood with, no one makes me crazier.

Can I get an amen?

When we were young, my mother used to chide all six of us for saying thoughtless things to each other, the kind of remarks that we'd never think of saying to a friend.

That said, my Mom is also the one who recently told me all she wants before she dies is for me to have a "normal life," and I'm not sure she thought that one through before making it sound like I'm a failure in her eyes.

But I digress. When a family member has upset me, hurling a veiled (or obvious) insult my way or making a condescending remark, I fall back on the best antidote for the family blues.

A girlfriend, a long-time one, with the same sex family relations, just fewer of them.

Rendezvousing at Postbellum, we walked into some sort of group meet-up mingling through the drafty bar area, sending us over to the shop and a bar table away from the bar, a place I'd never sat despite this being my fourth visit.

She was gracious enough to face the bar, leaving me with a view of racks of growlers and her smiling face. Since it was happy hour, we went with discounted cask wine, a velvety Milbrandt "Traditions" Cabernet Sauvignon.

Of course I bored her with my family drama, but fortunately, she countered with her own family stories of military precision timing of dinners for control freak guests, pastry wrappers relegated to the outside trash can to save face with critical guests ("I'm not that big a snob!" Well, yes, actually, you are) and why sometimes a four letter word plus "you" is the appropriate response to a condescending remark, even when it comes from family.

We thought rosemary smoked peanuts would take us through the trauma but eventually a cone of truffle honey Parmesan fries and the resulting finger licking were required.

One thing this girlfriend and I have long had in common is the circuitous and illogical paths we took to get to where we are today, places with which both of us are quite satisfied.

Seems not all our family members agree with our decisions along the way and aren't shy about telling us. My mother would not approve.

Happily, we're at an age where we know we can't please everyone so it's more important to please ourselves.

Sometimes that means going home to spend the evening with your funny husband, like my girlfriend did tonight.

Other times, it means sharing a bacon cheeseburger with a level-headed musician like I did, one who reminds you that talking is the best therapy for unkind words and hurt feelings.

He's right, of course. Even a non-normal person from the most remarkable and eccentric family knows that deep down.

Besides, when all else fails, there's always the four letter word fallback.

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