Price Breaks and Heartaches
A journal of retail and failed romance
Still Not Quite What They’re Looking For
My sister left home again but this time it was to get married. She was awfully young for marriage but the family begrudgingly accepted it. I had always thought I would be the first to leave home- well actually thrown out is the word I would have used. With her gone the house felt empty, it was just me and my mother and stepfather now.
And my brother.
And my grandmother.
And my great-grandmother.
And the up to 12 shih tzu puppies that were wandering the house at any time.
See? It was a ghost town without her.
But we still shared Sunday dinners whenever we could, or at least the different factions of the family that were speaking that week did. In fact in most cases it was a good Sunday dinner that made everyone change sides for a while. This week’s combatants were myself, my mother, stepfather, grandmother, great grandmother, brother, sister and my shiny new brother in law Lloyd.
Everyone was busy serving themselves and as I waited for the plates to come around I tried to get to know my new brother-in-law a little better. I started with the basics asking him what he did for a living.
"Blacktopping mostly." He said, "Car detailing too."
"I see. I don’t know much about either, is there good money in it?" The potatoes had reached me I figured one scoop was the best way to go considering the number of guests at dinner and the number of belt loops I was using.
"I have no complaints," Lloyd said.
My grandmother asked, "Can you afford a house?"
"It depends on the kind of a house."
"An apartment is a nice way to start." I said, "Maybe you should try a condo."
Lloyd gave me a funny look, "She’s on the pill not that its any of your business."
Thankfully the plate brimming with ham steak reached me and I kept busy with that.
"Take more." My great grandmother said, "You need to eat."
My brother Phil laughed at that, "No he doesn’t."
"Everyone is so concerned with my well being." I said.
My mother explained, "We worry about you. You haven’t been the same since your girlfriend broke up with you."
"That which does not destroy me only makes me stronger right?" I tried to sound chipper but I kept my eyes on the gravy boat, "And considering my soul has been crushed I must be doing awesome."
My stepfather said, "I think you’re being a little dramatic."
Actually the real drama was the night of the breakup but thankfully no one had seen me tearing at my clothes and then shut myself in the closet so I could scream into my fist.
Phil said, "He was gonna marry her. Heck he thought she was pregnant."
A collective gasp went up from the table. I blushed, "I was going to marry her anyway."
"Married?" My grandmother said, "You’re still a baby with milk in your mouth."
"You shouldn’t be in such a hurry to get married." My mother said, "I married your father when I was too young and look what happened."
"Uhm." I said. That was all I dared say. My Dad’s version of the story was very different but it was not the kind of thing to bring up there, especially not when the peas hadn’t reached me yet. My sister Greta looked a little uncomfortable with the whole getting married too young subject.
"You should join the army." My stepfather said, "It would help you grow up."
I answered honestly, "I’m not sure if that’s the right choice for me."
"Besides," my brother said, "the army doesn’t take retards."
"Yes they do," My stepfather corrected. "It’s called officers school."
Ah humor in uniform.
"So." I deftly changed the subject, "Blacktopping huh? Sounds pretty seasonal."
"Actually..." Lloyd explained, "In the off season you can do a lot of work patching driveways. That road salt is a bitch."
My mother gave my arm a good slap, "I can't believe you almost got a girl pregnant."
"Mom!" I said, "We're talking about blacktopping now."
"You better be careful," My grandmother cautioned.
"Yeah." Lloyd said, "And wear a condo."
There was a brief pause in the conversation while I tried not to choke to death on a mouthful of mashed potatoes. Once my air tubes had cleared and the spots had gone from my eyes I said, "You don't need to worry about me."
"We worry about you a lot." My mother said, "You're moody, you started playing those stupid role-playing games again and you're spending so much money on pornography."
At the time I remember thinking to myself that if there truly was a loving God with a plan for my life then 'pornography' was just my mother's sarcastic way of referring to my small fortune of Doctor Who related merchandise.
"Your mother has a point," my stepfather said, "how many stroke mags does one guy need?"
At the time I remember thinking Screw you God. The feeling may have been mutual.
"How do you guys know this?" I asked. After all I wouldn't have a blog for over two decade yet.
With that my brother got up and went into my room and I already knew that he was looking behind the dresser in the old book bag. He brought a pile of dirty magazines roughly the size of a toaster right to the dinner table. "Look at this." Phil said, "Five bucks... Six bucks... Holy shit- twelve dollars!"
"Ah," I tried to explain, "that one is a collectors' edition."