Somehow or other, I got myself invited to join Dana and the kids at her folks’ house in Oklahoma for the holidays.
Dana’d deep sixed me early in the fall, put me on ice over some ugly incident I can’t for the life of me remember anymore. But she thawed me out for Christmas, she dressed me in acceptable clothes, propped me up in the passenger seat and off we went to the land of Sooners.
Once there, I was actively encouraged to interact with the children, some of whom were very young and presumably breakable. I tried to go through the motions and wear an expression similar to what I’d seen other adults wear when confronted with tiny, underdeveloped humans.
“Awww, look at him… spitting up like that all over my sleeve… Adorable!”
I’m not sure it fooled anybody. The adults all looked skeptical the whole time – like they’d agreed to let the kids take turns riding a bear or something. That look that says they know you are not like them and they resent you for it.
Did they believe I could not see the looks they were giving each other? The looks that were like spelling out curse words in front a ten-year old who already knows how to spell?
Hasn’t anyone ever told these people not to whisper about the paranoid where they can hear it? It only gives substance to the delusions.
The weekend didn’t improve anyone’s opinion of me. “Aunt Katy didn’t have a mental breakdown on Christmas” isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement. Beyond that, it blew several days that could have been spent reading and/or writing and/or working.
But it got me back into the house, so roll out the “Mission Accomplished” banner. It had been a couple months, and no good can come of me living by myself in the long run.
Plus, now I can check “do the happy family holiday thing” off my mental checklist of things to do before I die. Bad sweaters, bad eggnog, and bad hypocrisy: it was all there, as promised, and in spades.