Price Breaks and Heartaches
A journal of retail and failed romance
Foreplay On The Edge Of Forever
It was almost Christmas and I was following my yearly tradition of not buying gifts for anyone. This wasn't because I was thoughtless mind you, it was because I was financially irresponsible and thoughtless.
Despite that I had been considering getting Ramona some jewelry. Just a little gift before semester finals wrapped up and she headed back upstate. Despite her initial reluctance I could feel her warming up to me, at the very least there was a goodbye kiss in my future if not a goodbye sudden fumble for the breast.
Meanwhile the impending holidays brought family gatherings and of course family gatherings brought migraines...
Uncle Stewart and his brood were visiting; it was him, my aunt and my three cousins. There was 18 year old Marie, 15 year old Herman and 10 year old Johnny. It was a big family gathering and I could already detect the rumblings of this year’s brawl. My mom, stepfather, brother, Aunt, Uncle, grandmother and great grandmother were all starting to argue over who was going to use the ‘family boat’ and when. That of course left the kids eating dinner in the family room.
For those of you keeping score at home, my seventeen year old brother was sitting at the adults table while yours truly, nineteen years old and somewhat known to woman, was sitting at the kids table.
Humiliation thy name is family.
Also, my sister had run away again, at times like this I missed her even more.
“I just don't understand why they're arguing about it when they haven't even finished restoring the boat.” I poked at my Salisbury steak.
Marie said, “You should see the bathing suit I have picked out, my Dad's going to let me wear a bikini this year.”
“Uh, that's great.” I blushed.
I should get it out right here and now that during our prepubescent years, back before unplanned visits and family vacations had been replaced by feuds and recriminations, my cousin Marie and I had crushed on each other pretty hard. In the years since she had blossomed into a beautiful young woman but regardless of what you might think of me dear reader, I wasn't going there. That kind of thing can lead to the birth of disabled children or worse yet reality show stars. Thing is I think she was still a little sweet on me.
Herman said, “Dad says that he's afraid your stepfather is going to drive the boat drunk.”
“That's a valid concern but how do we know your Dad wouldn't do the same?” I said, “This family is one big open bar.”
“Man your brother's right, you do think your shit don't stink.”
“Not true, it’s just that unlike Phil I flush the toilet when I'm done.”
It was at this point that my ten year old cousin Johnny announced, “You know Adolph Hitler was a great man.”
I am sure you all know how much it stings when soda comes out your nose, imagine what it feels like to expel a piece of semi-chewed Salisbury steak that way. “What? What did you say?”
“No wait. I heard what you said but why the Hell are you saying it?”
“Because it’s true.”
I would have leapt up from the kids’ table in indignation but it was so low to the ground that I couldn't get the leverage or momentum. “Where is this coming from? A few months ago you were all about The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers now you're all about Hitler Youth?”
Johnny looked at me like I was idiot, “Maybe that's because I finally understand the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers is part of the Jewish Conspiracy to encourage race mixing.”
“Wow, you're spewing crazy talk at an eighth grade level at least. Your parents must be so proud.”
Marie gave me a sly look, “Remember what happened to us the summer before you went into ninth grade?”
“You damn well know my hand slipped.” I replied calmly.
Now it was Herman's turn to stick the knife in, in a way it was so nice to see them taking turns, “Phil says he beat you up on your way to Karate class.”
“You're sadly mistaken.” I said, “It was Tae Kwon Do class.”
Johnny snorted, “I don't know why you would want to spend your cash learning a non American fighting style.”
“The classes on pro wrestling were all booked up.”
Marie asked, “Have you seen the movie The Princess Bride yet? We should totally go.”
“I'm kind of busy with final exams.” I said.
Marie looked crestfallen, I'm sure she just probably wanted to get out of the house for a little while. Her parents were determined to keep her pure via a combination of restrictions, surveillance and the occasional restraining order. It didn't matter though, all my energies were fixated on term papers and Ramona.
The voices in the dining room becoming louder and louder I sighed miserably and hoped things would stay civil until we had exchanged presents.