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Forced interaction with the Family Minus

The funeral was strange.

It was pretty much just our tiny little dysfunctional family. Not one person who had an actual genetic connection to Betty. I suppose that it might be sad, but then, I’m glad that she belonged to us and not her actual family, since we were obviously the only people who cared about her.

My mother’s sisters were wearing their finest cat claws however. At one point, my Mafia Grandmother announced to everyone in the funeral parlor that my mother was 50 years old. Then my Aunt said “Where is she anyway?” and I spoke up and said “Obviously out of earshot, since she didn’t come in here when you announced her age to everyone.” They hate her because she’s beautiful.

My Aunt Brumhilda, my mother’s youngest sister, is extremely thin and has been compared to Julia Roberts in some light. She starves her children, though. Her girls are 13 and 11 and look like they’re 10 and 6. I highly doubt that the oldest has begun her period yet.

She doesn’t allow them to go places with relatives because she’s afraid that the relatives will feed them. They are only allowed to go places with her. One time I offered to take the youngest one to audition for the local production of “Annie” and Auntie Brumhilda dragged herself out of bed with a migraine so she could come along to the audition. Because she was afraid I’d force feed her children Happy Meals. Or maybe fat is contagious and I might pollute their scrawny little bodies with my presence. I’m not certain.

One time, when I was growing up, she had moved into her own apartment (there’s nine years between her and myself, so I’m guessing she was about 20 or 19 then) and I slept over at her house.

For breakfast, she cut up a grapefruit and an orange. For the record, I detest grapefruit. I can’t stand it. But the kicker here: she made me turn on The Jack LaLane Show on television and do the half hour of aerobics with good old Jack before I could eat. And she sat on the couch watching me, critiquing my performance.

Then she let me eat the damn grapefruit and orange pieces.

Then she claimed that she was too busy to take me home, so I should just ride my bike home from her house, which was over three miles away from home.

Nice lady, huh?

When we had been at my grandmother’s earlier, the oldest kept turning the television station to the Food Network and her mother kept yelling at her to turn it to something else. Whenever Aunt Brumhilda wasn’t watching, oldest girl would turn it back to the Food Network, where a guy was showing how to make mayonaise from scratch, and then later showing how to rescue a batch of mayonaise which had separated. She was enthralled. I imagine that it was the most mayonaise she had ever seen in her life. How many 13 year old girls would skip over MTV or even Nickelodeon to watch a guy make mayonaise from scratch?

When her mother went upstairs with M.G. to pick out some clothing for Betty to be buried in, oldest girl casually went into M.G.’s kitchen and raided it, coming back into the living room with a hand full of marshmallows, which she quickly shoved into her mouth.

When that girl was three years old, she ate more than I did at a picnic. She ate a brat, a hotdog, a hamburger, a huge amount of potato chips, potato salad, several pickles and a big dollop of fruit salad. Guess who wasn’t at that family gathering?

After the funeral, we went to a local establishment for a meal. I wasn’t sitting at their table but I noticed that the youngest was only allowed a cup of chili for her meal. The oldest was allowed a grilled cheese. They weren’t allowed sodas. I heard her snap at them when they asked if they could have sodas “You had one at the funeral home! I saw you.” Yep, my mom had given them each 50 cents for a soda, which they took outside so that they could drink it. The oldest denied that they’d had any sodas, though.

After the meal, my other aunt (who is a little more relaxed, but still very strange) had this whole system of giving french fries to the girls. They would walk up and pretend to be asking her a question, and quickly snatch a few fries and shove them into their mouths, with a wary eye on their mother. They all performed this espionage with such grace that I’m certain it’s been played out time and time again.

Aunt Brumhilda was quick to note on Betty’s pictures that she had been heavier, but now she had slimmed down nicely. Um, that’s because she lost 40 pounds in a month.

When did our society turn from pitying thin people for looking sickly and praising them for looking in control? I realize that this has been broached time and time again, but it’s ridiculous. Aunt Brumhilda’s girls are going to have the mother of all binge eating disorders and probably end up overweight because they have no idea how to eat when they’re not being governed by their anorexic mother.

One time, I was trying to point out the dysfunction in my family and Aunt Brumhilda piped up and said “Well, Weetabix, when are you going to do something about your weight? We’re all concerned about THAT!” I should have said “Look, bitch, I AM doing something about it… I’m gaining weight as we speak. Hopefully I’ll never be in danger of becoming a pathetic little boyish twig and I’ll maintain my womanly curves. How about you? Do you need some advice on your weight problem?”

Bah.

What a grumpy day I’m having.

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