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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Family Night

11/09/10 Family Night A RANT

Years ago, Clint and I began having our Monday evening meal with his children and grandchildren. It began in 1996, the year we moved to Saint Simons Island. We kept a condo in Macon for visits to play golf, see our friends and spend with the family. When we were in Macon, Monday evenings were devoted to the family, and we gathered at a local pub for burgers and beer. It made Clint very happy, and I was always glad to see everyone, especially the grandchildren. The tradition continued when we were forced to move back to Macon because of Clint's health.

After Clint’s death, we tried to continue the tradition, but none of us was happy in the place where Poppy was so terribly absent. So, we started meeting at my house and ordering pizza. It went well for several months. We all needed one another, needed to share our grief.

Robert, Clint’s son - who lives with his mother and in unemployed because he can’t find a job that is good enough for him - is an alcoholic. Since his father’s death, his drinking has escalated to the point that he is completely unreliable. He can’t remember anything because he is booze saturated pretty much 24/7. He is a know-it-all, rarely right but never in doubt. There is a quote that draws a good picture of him: “The greater the ignorance the greater the dogmatism.” Sir William Osler (1849 - 1919)

Last night’s “Family Night” was like an episode of Jerry Springer. Robert and his daughter, Emily, came in, and when I asked Robert to run to the store for me to buy beer for Kristy - his sister who was running late - and for himself, (I don’t fight battles I have no chance of winning) he plopped his scrawny ass into the blue wing chair and simply refused. Instead, he left a voice mail for his sister to bring beer when she came. Then he went to the fridge and popped the top on the only beer in there - a Miller Lite, his sister’s preferred brand.

Emily sat down on the sofa and threw her head back and began to whimper about being tired. I complimented her on her new haircut and highlights and got something akin to a sneer in response. This is a 13 year old who just got a $125. hair job. She also treated us to a whine about how her Coke tasted awful because it was room temperature and had to be poured over ice and thus was watered down. My observation that she had chosen to use a mountain of ice was met with a cold stare. (Hey, I just gave you a Coke, you little ingrate. No whining allowed.)

Robert asked me about the concert on Sunday, then began to give me a lecture on Itzak Perlman, whom I had the privilege to see and hear in Atlanta the day before - told me all about what a fun guy he is and shit like that. He wanted to know who the pianist was in Mozart’s Little G, then proceeded to argue with me when I explained that there were no pianos when Mozart wrote the symphony.

I got up and took an Ativan and made a drink.

Then Emily began to obsess over a few scratches on her DAVID YURMAM sapphire and diamond ring which she had worn to school. She and Robert began to argue about what was wrong with the ring - went into a tirade about how it had never fit right and had been taken back to the Yurman store in Nordstrom’s but that no one there had done anything with it. I am not making this up. They talked over one another, interrupted one another, got more and more hostile with every syllable. All this over a fucking ring that a 13 year old has not business owning, never mind wearing it to school.

I flipped through a New Yorker and tried to focus on the cartoons, refusing to take part. Finally Kristy arrived. She did not pick up Robert’s voice mail until she was in my driveway, so there was not a beer for her to have with her pizza. She refused to let me go to the store. Robert offered to go, but she told him to stay put.

Kristy is usually a fairly calming influence on her brother and his daughter, but they just, both at the same time, tried to recruit her for their side of the unbelievably ridiculous interchange.

I jumped on my laptop and ordered pizza, working hard to get them out of my house as soon as possible. I knew that the moment we finished eating, Emily would start to pout and whine about being tired and wanting to go home and do her homework.

We went out onto the deck for them to smoke and the contentious behavior continued. Any time any of us asked Emily a question or remarked on something she said, she huffed and pouted, even turning her chair around at one point. He father fueled the fire by constantly interrupting and correcting her. Most of the time, his “corrections” were questionable. After a lecture to me from Robert on the subject of my patio propane heater, the food finally arrived and we ate. They were gone within 20 minutes of finishing the meal.

Kristy, who is the only one of them who is worth a shit, was exhausted and left with the other two. The real shame is that I love her dearly, respect her mightily and have missed her over the last month. We were unable to meet because my wife-in-law, their mother, has been critically ill.

Because of the other two, my time with Kristy was tainted, and I resent the hell out of that.

PS: When Loren called and I told him about Robert’s inquiry about the pianist for the Little G, he texted me the following: “It was Little Richard, of course. Same group who played in the Nutcracker.....the Almond Brothers.”

So, I went to bed laughing!

© cj Schlottman


  1. Sounds like a rather unpleasant evening...and I'm glad you were able to find some humor at the end, thanks to Loren.

    Maybe you should try to meet with Kristy for lunch sometimes just to get some girl time in.

    In-laws can be hard, but managing them without the help of the one who made them yours in the first place has to be even harder!


  2. ARRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGHHHH! You, my dear, are a much better person than I. I'm afraid that I would have been in jail on attempted murder charges. Although I doubt that there is a jury in the world that would vote to convict. I'm sorry that you didn't get to spend more time with Kristy. And I think Sue's suggestion is an excellent one. Love the Osler quote. And Loren's response was priceless. The Almond Brothers LOL Kat

  3. this situation sounds terrible. have you had a similiar situation like this before in your home? I sugge. talking with all to see if this is a tradition that is important and if yes, then either decide to continue at your home or somewhere else. I don't think you shoud be exposed to the behaviors. As years go by, unfortunately people's relationships change. i agree that making a suggestion to meet Kristy for a meal would be a good idea. Do you think that the behaviors were due to their mother's illness? take care rose

  4. The best response I ever heard to a question about a family gathering {Family Thanksgiving} was:
    "well.....nobody killed anyone"
    yep, that about sums it up!

  5. After all that torment, I'm so glad you went to bed laughing. I'm so sorry. The holidays bring out the worst in people who are already miserable pain in the asses! Hang in.

    PS I thought I was following, but I see I'm not. I'm about to change that.

  6. Claudia, thank you, thank you, thank you for the Osler quote. I guarantee that I can put it to good use. This all sounds so familiar! God love you for being far more a lady than I could ever be.

  7. it's been awhile. i stopped blogging and now am back. decided to stop and say Hi! hope you are ok and can't wait until our Ga weather is better. take care Rose

  8. My first visit here, great blog!
    Felt nice that after all the negativity you went to bed laughing, thats life:)
    Keep laughing, have a fabulous day:)

  9. I love your blog and will be stopping in frequently. Hang i there girl, you have a 50% that it might get better

  10. i am sad you had to go through this , but all's well that ends least u did laugh


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