I’ve been back home in New York for a week now and things have been just as staggering awkward as I expected. Apparently every teacher, ex-boyfriend, and nemesis I had in high school is now just dying to share an uncomfortable silence with me in the frozen-food section of the supermarket. “You know, I would love to stay and have a good ol’ reminiscing session with you,” I say through clenched teeth as I slowly back away, “but unfortunately I’ve got important plans to tear the skin off my face with a salad prong this evening, so I’ve gotta run.”
I’m seated in my grandparent’s living room. If any two people have the power to make me feel sweaty and uncomfortable, it’s them. Don’t get me wrong, I love my grandparents dearly, but spending time with them is about as productive as repeatedly slamming your head against a brick wall. First of all, they are both almost completely deaf. Communicate anything to them means physically screaming it at the top of your lungs into their faces. They also have trouble remembering anything for longer than about thirty seconds. Every time I’m with them we just end up just having the same maximum-volume conversation over and over again for hours. It’s very rewarding.
“What da heck is dis garbage?” my grandfather shouts as he takes a sip of the Limoncello liqueur my parents brought back from Italy. “Who bought dis piece-a-crap?”
“That’s the gift we brought back for you from Sicily,” my father answers patiently. I am impressed at how calm he is, considering it’s the fourth time he’s said this sentence in the past hour.
“Oh,” my grandfather answers, taking another swig. “Well thank you very much.”
I’m too busy watching Oprah to add anything to the stimulating conversation. Today’s show is about genital self-confidence, and I can’t take my eyes off the screen. It’s just so good. “This is for real ladies!” smiles Oprah’s big-haired, expert guest. “Women that feel good about their vulvae are going to have better sex lives!”
“She is so right!” Oprah agrees, raising her arms into the air. “If you don’t love your vulvae, who will?!” The crowd applauds triumphantly, as if they’ve just learned the single most valuable piece of information of their entire lives. My grandmother claps along with them, completely unaware of what’s going on.
“Is it really necessary to watch the television right now?” snarls my mother angrily as she walks into the room. “You kids drive me crazy sometimes.”
“Chillax mom,” groans my brother. “What are you, like, going through menopause or something?’
“As a matter of fact I am,” she shoots back. Her eyes are wild and evil and she’s staring at my brother as if she is trying to melt him with her retinas.
“Well how long is it gunna last?” he asks, looking terrified.
“I’m not sure,” she answers, smiling. “But I hope it lasts as long as possible. This way I have an excuse to be a bitch.”
It’s a dark day when you realize your parents are more fucked-up than you are.