Another Trailer Park Wedding

Blast from the past… Triggered by a random conversation this weekend with a friend.  As always, trying to explain why i can’t completely walk away from my Trailer Park clan.  Weddings, funerals and hospitals - often the pinning points in a family.  Mine is no different.

Divorce is de rigueur in my extended family.  When Dad died, he and i were the only two members of the family who had married once – and were still married.  Even my lesbian sister, T, had a 5 year marriage to a Palestinian cab driver she met during the first Gulf War.  Impulsive?  A bit.

When my eldest sister, S, married her third husband, Dad was still alive – but not by much.  He managed to walk her down the aisle, joking with me right before the ceremony – “Third time’s the charm, right?”  He’d done it twice before. 

It was somewhere around 2000, i think.  Dad was at least 2 years in to chemo for colon cancer, and well along the way toward a touch of dementia.  As Dad was walking out of the men’s room to walk S down the aisle, i reminded him to zip his trousers.  Someone needs to watch the details.

But it was a nice ceremony, as far as these things go in my family.  No firearms.  No bickering during the church service.  Not a huge crowd… just a gathering of the families.  A genuinely happy day with no drama.  We all knew Dad was circling the drain, and we wanted it to be right.

It was the reception that i truly enjoyed… Held at a biker bar, with a live band, we had a blast!  There is video somewhere of my entire family dancing to “Freebird”.  i shit you not.  Freebird.  And in the midst of that video is a rather chunky daisyfae, wearing overalls, dancing like a maniac – complete with hair-whipping and air guitar playing.

it’s genetic.  i can’t fucking help it.  Skynyrd.  It moves me…  It always will.

i really didn’t know JK, the man my sister S was marrying.  He seemed ok.  He wasn’t a drug dealing, bank robbing, suicidal transvestite like her second husband.  A fireman.  He looks like a country music star.  He had a job and a car and seemed to really love my sister a lot, so he was ok in my book.

It was a biker bar.  We were having a good time.  Mom even came along for a bit to hang out – always afraid of missing something.  There she was, sitting in a strip mall biker bar, enjoying a beer.  She made the tactical error of complaining about the volume of the band.  This, of course, led us to explain that the best way to deal with ‘band noise’ is to put cigarette butts in your ears.

Featured prominently in my sister’s wedding album are some lovely photographs of my mother with cigarette butts sticking out of her ears.

Yeah. We’re assholes.  She had a good time, though.

Later in the evening there was a moment.  A moment i’d forgotten.  But the moment when i decided i really liked having JK in the family.

It’s a biker bar.  Even though the wedding reception was held there, perhaps 30 of us in the wedding “party”, the bar was open to other patrons.  There was one flaming douchenozzle who had been “flirting” with the ladies all evening.  And by “flirting” i mean “groping”.

Approaching midnight.  i’m at the bar collecting my last Jack Daniels and Diet Coke* of the evening.  Douchenozzle grabbed the strap of my overall from behind and pulled me away from the bar and toward his lap.  My right arm is coming up, palm forward, to push him away, but is interrupted by a much larger arm.  An arm that is sporting bicep muscles as big as my head.

JK has stepped into the fray – from across the room – and intervened on behalf of his new sister-in-law.  Douchenozzle was instantaneously disengaged from my overalls, and launched across the bar into a darkened corner, not to be heard from again that evening. 

i thanked JK, and mentioned that it was nice to have a wingman.  Told him that i’m used to handling these things on my own.  Nice to have a brother.  He gave me a quick shoulder-squeeze, and we were back to our business at hand…

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*Yes.  “Jack and Diet”.  Suck it.  It’s what i drink in a biker bar.

Into the porcelain ether…

There is a unique state occasionally achieved when very drunk.  Knowing that you are incapacitated, feeling poisoned from the alcohol, room spinning slightly.  Not quite so far gone that you are passed out, incoherent and unaware.  The start of the purge… when you are just about to get sick, and the poison is making serious travel arrangements to vacate your body.

Hugging the toilet. 

As the toxins convene in your gut, mixing merrily with all of the poor food choices you’ve made for the last several hours, you know you’re about to get an encore presentation of everything recently consumed.  You wait.  Wanting it to be done.  Knowing that as miserable as it feels to be hoarking up the contents of your digestive tract, that you’ll feel so much better once it’s gone.

You wait for the first wave.  Disgust and relief. 

“Is that it?”

Hardly.  There’s a lot more.  A few quick rounds, then you drop into a zen-like state… the waves come and go.  More relief.  Wanting it to be over, but knowing there’s more.  You amuse yourself with the game of “hey… what was that?  did i eat that today or yesterday?”  Followed by “damn, i need to chew my food better…”. Forensics of the most base kind…

Eventually, you curl up on the floor.  Not quite ready for the comfort of the bed, fearing that there’s more poison still in your gut, fucking with you.  Maybe grabbing a towel off the rack for a pillow and a little warmth on the cold floor.  And you wait.  Maybe you doze… but there’s always another round. 

Finally, it’s out.  Maybe there’s more, but the need to regain normalcy overrides the queasiness.   You stand on wobbly legs to get back in your bed and sleep it off so you can get on with the responsibilities of tomorrow.  This is now more compelling than the need to purge.  So you suck it up, put a trash can by the bed and declare yourself detoxified.  And you try to sleep it off…

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Since my weekend with the family, there i am.  Curled up on the floor, waiting for more to come up.  Just three hours on a patio  – conversing with my sister, brother and niece – has dislodged some of the more toxic items in my memory bank.

More to come, but i’ve got to get to rehearsal…

Never pretend to be sleeping

She was an over-achiever from birth.  My sister, T, has incredible intellectual horsepower, combined with quick wit and the ability to use words as weapons.  Even as a child, she would frequently be able to reduce adults to tears.  Parents attempting to intervene in neighborhood scuffles, teachers, merchants… no one was safe from her verbal warfare skills.

Just twenty-two months older, we were closely coupled growing up.  i was a large lumpy child, and she was small and lean.  Despite our age difference, we were frequently mistaken for twins.  Competitive to the core, she never really played, even as a little kid.  Friendly games of “Capture the Flag” in the soybean fields behind our house were combat.  Not content to play flute, she made a successful switch to saxophone in high school and scored a coveted spot in the jazz ensemble.  Academics were no different, as she powered her way through school*.

By the time we were in high school, i was pretty comfortable being in her shadow.  It often worked to my advantage as a new teacher would say “Oh, you’re T’s sister…” and give me the genetic benefit of the doubt before i ever opened a book. 

The only time i ever remember a concession of defeat to “Li’l Dumpy” was on the guitar.  She’d hacked around with it for a few years, but had no great skill.  Rather than go head-to-head with her in competition, i borrowed Dad’s classical guitar when she wasn’t around and taught myself to play.  i was about twelve years old.  i knew i was better, but kept the little secret to myself just to avoid conflict.  Some drama club party we both attended afforded the first opportunity for me to play in public and once she realized i had surpassed her, she never touched the guitar again.  Small victory for the dumpy sister…

She was very active in band and drama, and served as a mentor to many younger students.  It was around this time that she started spending time with one of my good friends, SL.  They became inseparable, and T had apparently taken SL under her wing as a protege.  SL accompanied my family on a visit to Grandma’s in Indiana for a long Easter weekend.  Nothing really out of the ordinary for us to bring along a friend on such a trip.

Grandma’s house had limited space, so i was relegated to a sleeping bag on the floor of the spare bedroom while T and SL camped in the queen size bed, directly above me.  Tired from a day of travel, i was trying my damnedest to get some sleep, and simply ignored them as they made snarky comments about me, obviously trying to get a reaction.  Eventually, T reached over the bed to poke me. 

Rather than play the game, i pretended to be soundly asleep.  Turns out?  This was a supremely bad call on my part…

What i overheard next was the unmistakable sound of my sister and my friend engaging in quiet, but enthusiastic, sex.  Eyes opening “cartoon window shade” style, i was frozen on the floor and at a loss for how to extract myself from this rather unfortunate moment.  At fourteen, this is probably not the best way to find out your older sister is a lesbian.

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* She is very smart, but had to work at it.  As testament to her tenacity, she managed to go through her PhD in Business with a nearly perfect academic record.  All “A’s” (highest honors) – except for one lonely “B” – for her Associates Degree, Bachelor’s Degree, Master’s Degree and PhD.  She escaped The Park after graduation, and has had a rather remarkable career as a professor, and now Dean of Graduate Research, at a major university.