“I wanted a perfect ending. Now I've learned, the hard way, that some poems don't rhyme, and some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity.”Gilda Radner

Monday, April 16, 2012

Janie and the Phantom

I don't consider myself a grudge holder. There are a few things, however, I canNOT let go of and, I suppose, some people would consider them to be along grudge-y lines. One of the big ones is that my husband Joe did NOT take me to his senior prom. There's a whole big story to that, but I'm not telling it. I won't give him the satisfaction. Plus, he does have the decency to now regret that mistake.

Another one I'd nearly forgotten. This almost disqualifies it from being a grudge at all, except that I remembered toDAY. It happened when I sat at my mother's kitchen table at dinnertime. My husband Joe was beside me, my sister Jane was across from me, my mother was next to her. My father sat at the head of the table on the far side of the room. This is HIS seat. There is no other he will ever sit in. Ever. No one else should bother taking this spot, even if he is not around, because he will arrive and demand that you move. Even if you are heartily involved in solving a Sudoku.

This story is not about my father and his seat, though. It is about how my mother turned to Jane and said conversationally, "Want to go out shopping tonight?" and Jane said, "I can't," and the subject was closed. There wasn't even an UNCOMFORTABLE silence that followed. It was companionable. No one realized anything was amiss.

I gave out a noisy, "A-HEM."

Joe slapped me on the back and said, "Okay, there, Mar?"

I did not even glance his way. This was not his battlefield. Again, I choked out, "AAAA-HHHHEM."

My mother looked at me, blinked, and said, "What?"

Jane hooted into gales of laughter.

I said nothing, but stretched my face into an exaggerated look of pointedness my mother could not miss. She bent forward, slapped her knee, and exploded in a half-wheezing, half-silent laugh.

"You know what?" I said, flinging both my hands in the air. "STORY OF MY LIFE!"

"What do you mean?" asked my mom, though she was still laughing and she had a glint in her eye that said, "I know exactly what you mean."

Not only did my mother and sister frequently escape on magical bonding shopping trips throughout my entire--not childhood, not youth, but entire--LIFE, but when I was in seventh grade, Jane arranged through her school that she and my mom would travel to Toronto, stay in a hotel, and see Phantom of the Opera together. To say I wanted to be included would a gross understatement. I was devastated. My parents had never, ever taken us to stay in a hotel before (and never would, by the by), and Jane's school was calling it a "Mother/Daughter Excursion." Well what the hell did that make me?!

Even my father remarked at the time that he didn't completely understand why I was left out.

And don't even get me started on the Celine Dion concert.

So when my mother said, "What do you mean?" all innocent-like, I gave her a glare worthy of the devil himself and spat, "Phantom. Of. The. Opera."

Jane's laugh trailed away with a, "Haa, haaa, haaaaa. hooo," she wiped at her eyes, and said snootily, "Well what would have done with YOU there, anyway?"

"Uh, Jane?" my dad spoke up. "Best to let this one go."

INDEED. So glad I could be reminded of one my very few grudges this evening, and also, be left psychoanalyzing how this has completely impacted the very core of who I am for years.

I'm so...forgotten. Feel sorry for me.

P.S.--I tried to post a picture of the three of us together, but there are NONE. Who's surprised?

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