So every year I go to Thanksgiving out in Wilkes County with my momma's side of the family in the past, me, Momma and my sister would all pile into Momma's Pontiac and drive over to her sister Adie's house in Washington, the county seat, but now that Lou has a family of their own, it was just me and Momma in the car. Adie’s house is just plain huge and very Southern, just a massive Victorian beast with a ceiling fan in every room; she did very well for herself, marrying Montgomery St. Clair, youngest son of a well-to-do Georgia family that owns a large dairy. Uncle Monty wanted to be an artist, but his parents pulled him out of art school and he ended up a vet, a large animal specialist to be exact, which got him in tight with the horsey set. Monty is a quiet little fellow, now retired and meek as a church-mouse, whereas Aunt Adie is a force of nature, let me tell you. Everything is a competition to Adie; who has the biggest house, who has the most grandkids, the whole nine yards. Well let me tell you, if life is a completion, then I suppose she's winning, because she's loaded, has five kids and twelve grandkids. You've won, Adie! So can you stop with all the photo albums already? Jesus H. Christ on a pogo stick, as Daddy used to say!
Okay, where was I? Oh yes, Thanksgiving at Adie's this year. Of course Adie and Monty were there, it's there place, but also Aunt Ren and Uncle Frank. Now Frank has almost as much money as Monty, but as he will no doubt tell you if you give him a half a minute, he earned it all 'by the sweat of his brow'. Frank owns a chain of Ford dealerships throughout southeastern Georgia, though he has little to do with their day-to-day operations; mostly he just sits back and counts his money. Aunt Ren is as quiet as Aunt Adie is loud, but don't let her fool you; she's as sharp as a tack and had a fierce temper if you push her.
And of course, all my cousins, nieces and nephews were there, so many that even that big old house was nearly fit to bust; kids running all over the place and underfoot, including my sister Lou's two kids, though mostly she just holds on to little Ricky for dear life. Big Rick was there, too, of course, all full of Hispanic charm and New York style; Lou really hit the jackpot when she snagged him, let me tell you. Little Tony seemed to be everywhere at once, chasing after the girls just like his no-good daddy who left Lou in the lurch; of course, Ray was a sumbitch while little 'Tone' is an angel, and yes I am horribly biased; why do you ask?
So we've got this house just plain packed with folks, and here I come with my head all full of new and improved attachments, and it is like WHAM!, walking into a wall of noise; my eyes crossed and started to water the minute I stepped inside.
"You got a headache, hon?" Momma had her hand on my arm.
I waved her off and told her I was fine, but she knew I was lying; of everyone I've talked to since waking up, she's the only one who gets it, or at least comes close. She watches Medium, Ghost Whisperer, that one show on TLC with the lady with the big hair and ugly clothes, all of them. She might not know exactly how I feel all the time, but she can pretty much figure it out
"How 'bout I get you drink; how's that sound?"
It sounded pretty great, to be honest, so I let her wander off into the crowd while I leaned up against the wall and took a few deep breaths and just sort of pushed everybody's thoughts off into their own corners. The good news is that since I came back, I have a tendency to put people off, so no one really bothered me as I pulled off my leather jacket and closed my eyes; the bad news is...well, this is my own damn family, and I don't really like them being scared of me all the time! But you can't have one without the other, so I counted my blessings and did my best to become one with the wallpaper.
I used to like these kinds of get-togethers, I thought to myself.
"There's our little angel! How are you, Darla?"
"Hey there, Uncle Frank! Happy Thanksgiving!" I gave him a big hug; at least someone in the family wasn't too spooked to be social.
"Happy Thanksgiving, Dar! Where's your momma gone off to?"
"Oh, she's off gettin' me a drink; what else is new, right?"
Uncle Frank laughed, his face all red from his own little celebrations.
<My God, look at that sweet little ass! I could take a bite right out of it!>
For a second, it felt like the floor had dropped out from under me, like on one of those rides at Six Flags, and I shook my head; please tell me I did not hear what I just thought I heard! Well, not 'heard', but you know what I mean. But sadly, I was correct, as a new side of Uncle Frank was suddenly revealed to me; not only was he a letch, but a cheater and a pig pretty much all around. The images that spilled out of his head, all the women he’d been with, naked girls in every possible position, doing all kinds of things-
"Will you excuse me for a sec? I just need to get a little air?" I gave him my friendliest smile.
Frank looked slightly disappointed. "Oh, well sure, Dar, but you come right back, you hear? We're gonna be eatin' soon."
Not if I throw up first, I thought. Momma found me a few minutes later, sitting out on the porch, and she handed me a whiskey on the rocks, which I nearly downed in one gulp.
"You okay, Dar?" She gently rubbed my back between the shoulder blades.
"Uncle Frank is a filthy pig, Momma! How did I never see that?"
She laughed. "You just sussed that out now? Hell, I've known that for years, and I didn't need a bump on the head to figure it out." She jerked her head back towards the house. "That there is a nest of vipers, hon; not one of them is worth a dime." Momma shook her head and chuckled. "Well, except maybe Monty; he's a sweet old thing. And your cousin Danny is just the nicest young man."
That reminded me of another set of thoughts that had pushed its way into my head a few weeks ago, when Danny and his girlfriend Pauline came to visit. I leaned over to whisper in Momma's ear. "Is Cousin Danny...is he gay?"
She shrugged and whispered back. "I don't know for sure, but I think he might be; can you imagine coming out to Uncle Frank?" She shuddered. "There may be a reason he moved to Atlanta."
I took another sip of my whiskey and sighed. "Life sure is a lot more complicated than I ever knew."
Momma smiled and rested a hand on my arm. "'Bout time you figured that out, I guess. You ready to go back inside? I promise to keep Frank at bay."
I nodded and followed her back in; the rest of the evening proved to be just as interesting, although the whiskey helped a lot.