2005-10-27

Family Reunion - Part One

When I got home Jesus' parents' old Honda parked in my spot.
"Hi baby!" He was leaning out of my bedroom window like a modern-day biblical Juliet.
I wondered if He knew how gay He looked.

"Did you get your hair cut?"
"Yup!!" I rolled my eyes.
"Did your mom cut your hair, Jesus?"
"Yup. I have to go to her family reunion bar-be-que tomorrow." Jesus' mother had a huge family. It was so big that her father had gotten a letter from President Reagan thanking him for having so many children and grandchildren. There were so many of them that even Jesus didn't really stand out as special except that He was born a little too soon to fool His grandparents on that whole "wait until marriage" issue.

"I know - can I go?" I'd never been allowed to go to any of His extended family stuff… I mean, I'd met His mother at Thanksgiving and His dad I met, like once, but His dad is SUPER busy, as you can imagine. He's a lot like any retired suburban, Republican dad I guess.

It's not like when you were around Jesus' parents you wanted to ask them a whole bunch of questions… they weren't big talkers and you kind of wouldn't want to step on any holy toes, you know? Especially if you're dating their kid. His parents were intimidating, what with the whole Almighty factor and everything.
But a bar-be-que picnic? Who's not relaxed there? Even God would have to chill a little at a family reunion. Unless Joseph was going to go, too. That would be wierd. Maybe God wouldn't be there after all. "Whatevski," I thought, "I HAVE to go."
There would be lots of people, even some of them who I knew, and it would be a chance to get out of town for a day, even if it was just to a family reunion where the dress code would be 'O'Brien Family Reunion! Miller Park! 1998!! Gooooooo God!!!!!!'

I started to climb the stairs to my apartment and Jesus started to say something but I shook my head up at Him and He met me at the door instead.
"Can I go?"
"No."
"Why are you being such a dick about your family? I want to meet them," I said. I was consistently denied normal boyfriend-girlfriend interaction.
"Baby…. It's boring. I hate family reunions. They're a buzzkill. They all want to play volleyball and watch me turn water into Pabst. It's all work and it’s not fun and I don't even want to go."

"Well wouldn't it be better if I was there?"
"Why? So you can watch people watch me teach my cousins how to fish? You're not going."
"Is your dad going?", I asked, hands on hips and gearing up to stand my ground.
"Of course. This is the biggest deal for my Momma, next to Christmas, in the whole year."
"So you don't want me to go," I huffed and waited, suspending the comment as a question.
"Did I stutter?", was my answer.
"No.
Can I go?"
Jesus stopped fidgeting and looked away.
"I promise I won't say anything Democrat.
Or Jewish."
Jesus rolled His eyes.
.
.
.
.
.
We got to the picnic area at Miller Park late; the volleyball was well underway and the grill was empty, though a platter of fish lay uninvitingly in the sun.
I saw Jesus' Mom sitting at a table, surrounded by the youngest grandchildren who each wanted a turn playing a sing-song game that I didn't recognize.
Jesus' sister-in-law, Jan.
Thank god. Literally.
She was the only other person in Jesus' family that I knew besides John the Baptist and no, I hadn't slept with her.
She had a big baby situated into the crook of one arm and was holding a beer and an unlit cigarette in the other.
"Where have you guys been? I'm dying out here!" She hitched up the baby and looked around for an empty camp chair.
"Here - Jan - let me take Margie. You sit down." I couldn't help myself. I was, after all, a small town girl with small town girl instincts. Hold the baby. Smile in the picture. Bring a fruit salad because people always forget to bring one to picnics.

Jan settled her disarmingly small frame into the red camp chair that I'd brought and set the beer into the chair's cup-holder. She squinted as she lit her cigarette, careful to blow the smoke away from baby Margie.
"Oh you know. Jesus doesn't get up before 11 on Sundays."
"Must be nice. You would think that one time is 10 years of raising babies, you'd think that asshat step brother of His could get up one time with one kid but no. It's my job. I'm the wife. Fucking asshole."
I was really uncomfortable and didn't have anything to offer except what was meant to be a heartfelt, empathetic, "Dude."
Jan wasn't a big talker. I looked around for something to talk about and spied a crowd by the water that must have been John. That one, the Baptist.
"What? Do you want to go watch baptisms?" Jan almost sounded like she was mocking me - did she know? Did John tell her about us? There's NO WAY that Jesus would have said anything. "Where did you guys stay last night?", I asked, trying to change the subject, my hands full of Margie and starting to feel unfortunately damp with baby sweat and probably a lot of drool.
She finally turned and gave me her full attention. "John's." (Internal seizure) (Ouch.)
"In the, ummmm, the... uh... cave?"
"Yup." She lit another cigarette from the one she was finishing and dropped the butt in her already empty Stroh's can.
"How was that?"
"Oh the kids love it. They thought they were in Disneyland or something. John was great. He made lamb chops and mashed potatoes and the kids ran around all night playing flashlight tag. Hey! When did his dog die?"
A thumb of sadness pressed on my heart. "Frosty died? Man. I didn't know that. John loved that dog more than anything in the world."
"Well, that dog is dead. You didn't know? I thought you guys hung out all the time and with Jesus and shit?" RELIEF. She didn't know anything. John hadn't mentioned our fling. We were still cohorts in sin together.
"We used to all hang out but I haven't seen too much of him in like, a month or something? I think him and Jesus still chill but I have, like, school? A lot? They're like, best friends. And stuff."
I couldn't look at Jan while I was trying to lie to her through the use of evasion and had begun to search the tall, well-fed biblical family members, standing or sitting all around the picnic area, searching for my boyfriend. And His cousin. "We should go find them… who can watch Margie? Is Jason around?"
"Right. Like her father would watch her. Jesus and Jason - not cut from the same cloth, I'll tell ya that right now. No, I'll take her over to Grandma Mary. Jason and Jesus and them are probably all at the river. John's been down there since we ate - you know - new kids, new wives and stuff. I think he's been baptizing for like a hour or something. Hey! Grab one of those beers for him, would you? He's gotta be ready for a cold one"
"Sure………" Shit. Shitshitshit. Jesus is going to kick my ASS if I start bringing beers to John.
I could NOT walk down to the river with a beer for John in front of God and everyone.
I picked up two for each hand, hoping hard that Jesus was down at the river and I could feel like I was being a good girlfriend, good potential daughter-in-law, good Midwestern girl.

arizonasarah at 8:44 a.m.

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