Apparently 28 is the age when just your solo presence isn’t appreciated at your family cookout. I should have brought a pasta salad.
The last time I didn’t attend a family event, my love life was discussed. My grandma apparently loves telling the story about the guy that I had been seeing who moved to Asia and married someone else. It’s a classic.
This time, I was elated that my youngest sister was introducing her boyfriend to the family so maybe the focus wouldn’t be on my love life, or lack there of.
It started off well. My other sister heard my great aunt exclaim that my sister had brought a good-looking man with her! But once all the introductions were made, the attention turned back to me as one of my uncles asked “Where’s your boyfriend?” After I remarked that I didn’t have one, he said it’s probably for the best. He told me they just want your money. My thoughts at this point were, “Good thing, I’m not rolling in the riches” and “Yes! Finally someone on my side.”
He may have been the only one. My cousin brought by a baby girl that she was babysitting and I decided I wanted to hold her. Kids love me. All was well until she was sitting on my lap and she starting with her little baby poots. Mind you, I was wearing white jeans, which I never do because I’m a magnet for a mess. So I begin to pass the baby back to my cousin when she asks if I want to change her diaper.
“I’ve done my time of wiping butts.” My aunt who is sitting next to my cousin asks what I mean. I explain how I started babysitting when I was 14 and I have a 4 and a half year old niece; I’ve done my time. I mean I’m not especially eager to jump up and wipe any butts of anyone who you know, isn’t related to me or my responsibility. “One day you’ll have some babies and a husband.” Hmm…debatable. I told her I would have a really nice fish. (They wipe their own butts!). Apparently getting a fish equals denying my family the pleasure of seeing my babies, you know the ones that don’t exist yet.
Anyway we’d prepped my sister’s boyfriend for our family so I couldn’t wait until we sat down at the table You know, all 24 of us. I opted to sit down by the older folks; I felt like it would result in the best stories. It definitely didn’t disappoint. My other uncle (I have 6) asked where my guest was. I told him it was my sister, after all I did ride with her. But she’s family she can’t be a guest. So I tried to claim her boyfriend as my guest since he rode with us too but apparently it’s one guest to a person. I had to let him know I didn’t have a guest. “Why not? Is he working?” My response, “I don’t know who he is but he better be working.” This girls got standards for her imaginary boyfriend.
Then my uncle asks if I’ve heard from my cousin (his son) and I mention that I didn’t even know he was at the beach until his roommate told me. My grandma’s ears perk up when she hears my cousin’s roommate’s name. “Y’all have a thing?” “No Granny. We do not have a thing. That would be kind of awkward for his girlfriend.”
Then my uncle and grandma grill me about why I didn’t invite him. Apparently him being with his girlfriend is not a good excuse because according to my grandma I could have invited her too. My uncle said if I invited him, he’d be there with me and not be wherever he was with his girlfriend. We are desperate enough about my having a guest that we are stealing them from other people.
After an uncomfortable conversation about how my grandma had bathed in Epsom salt and how she told her boyfriend (yes, my grandma has a boyfriend) to feel how soft her skin is, the topic of conversation thankfully turned to dessert. My grandma’s boyfriend asked my sister if she had made apple dumplings and then my grandma asked my sister’s boyfriend if he’d ever tried them. “Yes ma’am, that’s how she got me.” The thought that I should learn to cook quickly slipped into my head and out of my mouth before I had a chance to think about the consequences. “Well there’s your problem,” says my grandma. “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach,” says my great aunt. I order take out like a champ is what they don’t know.
As the night was winding down and after my aunt made a point to tell my sister what a nice guy her boyfriend was, I begin saying my goodbyes! “Maybe next time you can bring your guest,” says my uncle. I tell him I’ll have to find one first. We’re going to the beach at the end of this month and he tells me they’ll be plenty of prospects down there. Family vacation is going to be interesting.
Long Story Short: My grandma accidentally put blue cheese in the cole slaw instead of mayonnaise, the custard in the homemade ice cream was burnt, but still the biggest disappointment of the family cookout was that Tiffany did not bring a guest.