Summer with the Borgias


You are Assimilated

The following is a recreation of a conversation between my aunt and an employee at the local supermarket moments after an unfortunate accident took out our chicken. It is important to note that since my aunt is on the phone, all I can do is make educated guesses as to the chicken guy’s responses. Plus, I was pretty well lit.

Aunt: Do you have whole cooked chickens?

Chicken Guy: Yes we do, ma’am.

Aunt: Oh, great. They’re cooked?

Chicken Guy: Uh….yes ma’am.

Aunt: Do we need to reserve one?

Chicken Guy: You want to…reserve a chicken?

Aunt: Yes. This is an emergency. (She says in a serious tone of voice, which conveys that she is not joking and that my family does not fuck around when it claims to be undergoing a gastronomical emergency).

At this point my other aunt and I, who are also in the kitchen, emit a series of otter-sounding guffaws. We laugh so hard that we had to stop what we were doing, which was deciding who to blame for the chicken emergency (it’s the aunt on the phone, by the way, and then by proxy, her son).

Though this might sound like a scene out of the Borgias do Christmas, I have been back visiting my family for two weeks, thus I have had time to reacclimate and then reassimilate to the craziness.

In the first week of being home, some things were hard to get back into. There’s the morning argument between my sister, mother, and I for the “squatty potty” the footrest which assists in the ease of bowel movements. I’m not used to sharing my jerryrigged one, as my cat hasn’t figured out how to use it yet. Additionally, the fact that my sister and mother have gotten married to each other took a little getting used to. They work together to raise my sister’s wonderful little rugrats, and as a result have fallen into a domestic partnership. They speak like a couple, argue like a couple, negotiate and compromise like a couple. In a week I expect to be giving them couple’s therapy (now, Mom, what I hear Amanda saying is that while she appreciates you, maybe some space is needed before requesting the squatty potty…)

My father occupies the west wing of our house, where his hobbies include reading, watching baseball, not being near children, and subsisting on a cookie and sandwich diet. I’d be angry with him if I weren’t so jealous of him. It seems that in our late sixties we are once again allowed to enjoy the diet of a stoned eighteen year old. And I, for one, can’t wait.

I spend my evenings watching baseball with him and enjoying sweets from his personal stash. We come up with a variety of lists (100 non-WWII war movies, 50 actors with terrible hair, A-Z on spy novels that take place in Europe). Otherwise, I try to keep up with my dad’s tendency to say things with absolutely no context. This week’s out of the blue statements include:

“It’s interesting, Jimmy Carter and William Buckley were born the same year and were very different people.”

“I think the 1936 Olympics were the most fascinating Olympics for sure.”

“You ever see a Wimbledon match? Those guys have to wear white, but the damn ball is hard to see. They should paint that thing while. (The one took me a while, as this is the first time my father has added tennis to his summer viewing.)

By week two, not only am I used to this staccato conversational style, I employ it. I bring up random comments about the behaviors of local rabbits, why shampoo is bad for your nipples, the driving habits of drivers from New Jersey, and whether Brexit will affect accent perception. I have to admit, it feels pretty damn good to clear my mind like that. I think the old man is onto something.

Not only am I OK with that, but I am at peace with my sister and mother’s marriage, with my sister’s rampant case of Indophilism, though I can’t say as much for our post-pub Indian Uber driver, who answered most of her questions by saying, “Uh. I don’t know anything about Delhi, I grew up in Trevose.” And my mother and I enjoy an in depth discussion about bowel health almost every day.

I, my friends, am assimilated. And I love it. It’s always nice to know who your tribe is, even if the outside world sees you all as a bit wacky. I fit right in here.

Tonight, the emergency chicken arrives with my uncle and aunt (who have been briefed and enlisted to pick it up from the chicken guy at the store, a charge which led to a long discussion on where one finds the chicken guy at the store). Perhaps in celebration, we break into song in the kitchen. I don’t sing as much as conduct with a wineglass baton, but it’s enjoyable nonetheless. It’s Grandmom’s birthday and we are having ribs in spaghetti and, of course, the emergency chicken. Rumor is there’s a salad.

After the dinner, we retire to the living room to watch an Italian comedian who sends my Borgia tribe into fits of hysteria. Some slam their hands against the couch, others lose their breath, and we all stomp our feet. A couple of us engage the comedian directly, ask him questions, solidify and justify his points, as though he is sitting in our living room and one of us. I do it all, knowing I am in my rightful place, assimilated with my wacky tribe of Borgias.

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