Thursday, April 17, 2008

i read too much david sedaris.

Here is an essay about the worst Easter my family has ever had, written a few months ago during the 56th (this may not be an exaggeration) time I was reading David Sedaris's Me Talk Pretty One Day. Really, you should just read his Easter story, "Jesus Shaves," but I'm posting mine because, at the very least, I find it amusing.

Easter is just one of those things in my family, which, as a rule, leads to some moderate form of disaster. It's never treated me kindly, at least, what with my distaste for ham and the conditions a packed church can impose on my low blood pressure. And, although it has a far deeper meaning than the other holidays, this only seems to increase my extended family's penchant for bickering. Needless to say, we do not generally quake with anticipation over its coming.

"Ham tomorrow," my mom smirked as I scaled the stairs for bed. "I'll be up in a bit." My parents had announced their divorce a few weeks prior, but she'd been sleeping on the sofa for months. That Saturday morning, a twin bed had been placed in the prison cell-sized guest bedroom, and she was disturbingly thrilled at the idea of sleeping in a room with teddy bear wallpaper and one small window.

"Yeah, enjoy your box spring," I smirked in return. After brushing my teeth and sliding into sweats, I crawled under my blankets and, after finishing a novel, earned a true rarity: eight and a half hours of unceasing slumber. However, when I woke at 9:30 the next morning, the rainy weather, combined with my typical inability to function within an hour of waking, left me drowsy.

"We going to church?" I grumbled to my mom, pouring myself the largest mug of coffee.

"No," she replied sullenly. Clearly, despite the presence of an actual mattress, she had not been granted a sufficient REM cycle.

"Why?" My thick sweatshirt cuffs blocked the heat of the newly-brewed coffee from my palms.

"You slept through it?" she snapped. I raised my eyebrows, urging her to continue. "Well, at 4:30 this morning, your brother threw up all over the hallway.

"Oh, no." My brother's inability to ralph has been legendary since infancy, when he demonstrated an aptitude for projectile vomit, and has contuned through multiple chapters of carsickness and one unfortunate childhood vacation in which he threw up on innocent, sleeping me. (At least it is a comfort to know that I got the grossest moment of my life out of the way at age seven.)

"And," she inhaled deeply, "in the bathroom sink."

My gag reflex momentarily activated before my brain shut it down. "How did you clean that up?"

"Well, initially, I didn't have to. Your dad started to do it... But then he threw up," she continued.

"Oh, Mom. Did you go back to bed after all that?" I had wanted her to get a good night's sleep, had hoped it would diffuse holiday--- and everyday--- tension and minimize her stress.

"No, it was pointless. But I read for a while down here, and it still smelled horrible and I couldn't figure out why until I realized the dog-- the stupid dog!-- had thrown up and rolled in it!" she explained.

My eyes were, I'm sure, the largest they've ever been opened before 10:00 am. Our dog is knee-high, mildly obese, completely neurotic, and possessed by the belief that my mom is her greatest rival. They are in perpetual alpha-dog contention. "What did you do?"

"Well, I had to give her a bath," she said matter-of-factly. I was shocked I had slept through all this, because the canine bathing process is a fairly intense undertaking. First, her pudgy body must be carried up the steps-- 65 pounds of biting, growling fur in your arms. Once you finally hoist her into the tub and turn the faucet on, she cries without stopping until the bath is over. Generally, the process ends here, unless my mom is feeling particularly vindictive and attempts to blow-dry her. Otherwise, she follows you around the house all day, shaking herself off on you at random intervals. (I should probably note that a groomer now gets paid a significant amount of money to do this.)

"Oh, Mom. I'm so sorry," I apologized. We are not touchy-feely people, but if we were, I might have hugged her. "Is it funny yet?"

"It'll be hilarious in a week or two," she promised.

"What an awful Easter."

"No ham, though," she pointed out, "so it's not really that awful." She was right for reasons far surpassing the absence of our least favorite meat. Somehow, she and I lack a basic ability to bond over what we imagine "normal" mothers and daughters might. Instead, we enjoy that which is morbid, or bizarre, or just straight-up random, anything which allows us to employ our well-honed sense of sarcasm. An unfortunate percentage of our favorite family memories involve vomit, allergic hives, Silence of the Lambs, public humiliation, and stitches. Although I never thought we could be knitted together more closely than we were after the time she nearly fainted in the E.R. upon seeing the X-ray of my completely demolished elbow, that Easter brought us Even closer. We spent the day walking through our neighborhood, laughing at the poor souls engaged in the complex warfare of their own dysfunctional families and the digestion of ham.

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