Thursday, May 31, 2007

People I Have Known, Part 1

Oh, you think I'm gonna rattle off a story about how I met Paul McCartney, or when I ran into Johnny Depp at the tatoo parlor or that time I got a letter from Stephen King when he was ass deep in writer's block.

No. Sorry.

Not to say I haven't met my share of famous people: Cesar Romero...Shaun Cassidy...Bozo the Clown. You know, the biggies.

But this is more about real people I've known. Real people are incredibly more interesting that Paul or Johnny or Stephen. Not that the famous aren't fascinating, but we only know them one dimensionally...or only know what they want us to know. I remember reading an article about Robert Redford, who, for my dollar is still one of the sexiest men on the planet, and he pays publicists to keep his name OUT of the paper. And while I do an inordinate amount of fantasizing about my fantasy men, I still have enough grey matter focusing on reality to keep me grounded.

For now. At some point, Barry Manilow is going to have to go into the Witness Protection Program. (oh, fine -- take aim. I like Barry Manilow....can we just get past it?)

Anyway, I started thinking about people around me and the stories that I've heard and probably shared when I shouldn't have. Rest assured, I've never broken the "Chick Code" but I have changed names to protect the innocent in search of a good community laugh.

I would like to pick a moment in the life of Aunt Bernie. Trust me, it's worth it...and I bet you've got one tucked away in your family closet.

Aunt Bernie was one of those very few women who actually scared me when I was little because her face reminded me of an alligator. Her jaw flopped open and closed as she related some new terrible event, like who stole her favorite teaspoon or that she was sure the guy who stared at her in line at the grocery store had a picture up at the post office. She looked ancient when she was 30. Life just didn't seem to be kind to her ever -- and she never tired of telling you about it. She never married....although my dad took me aside one day and said Bernie was kind of married to the bottle.

Anyway, the story goes that her niece Christie and husband Jack had invited her over to see their new house. It was right after they had gotten married, but the memory of 60 year old Bernie getting drunk at the reception and trying to seduce the 25 year old head waiter had faded in everyone's memory. (We all decided it was a good damn thing the kid had a sense of humor. We passed the plate between the whole family and tipped him $250.00 at the end of the night.)

So it wasn't a huge surprise when she perhaps "had a few to settle the nerves" prior to her visit to Christie's. Bernie believed alcohol cured everything. It was especially helpful dealing with: anemia, shortness of breath, night disturbances, headaches, chills, bad leg circulation, nervous jitters, urinary incontinence -- all of which she had and why she could attest to alcohol's miraculous healing ability.

But Aunt Bernie was one of those people who was unhappy drunk and unhappy sober. It was hard to tell when she'd had too much until she'd cross a line and start yelling out racial slurs or trying to seduce any man in residence. After all, she LIKED sex...and she didn't get it....but she wanted it....and why shouldn't she? She was a normal, healthy woman who liked sex.... and on and on and on. And on and on. At all family functions, we had a designated "Bernie driver" who was in charge of tossing her ass in the car and driving her home when she first uttered the words men or sex. Off she went. Yelling about the indignity of it all.

So basically, she's tanked and on her way to visit Christie and Jack when she ended up grazing a neighbor’s dog with her car. It was summer, everyone was outside and stood stunned, watching all this unfold. The poor little dog was injured and needed help but Aunt Bernie is three sheets to the wind and trying to back the car up so she can hit it again. She’s hollering out the window that she’s doing the humane thing, trying to put the dog out of its misery. Well, the dog is snapping to and trying to get its bearings. Fido knows it’s way smarter than the person driving the big, banana yellow Buick and it smells danger. People are now running at my aunt, running for the dog, running for the dog’s owner, running to Christie’s house, just plain running.

Jack eventually saved the day. He grabbed the dog as Aunt Bernie flew past him and just kept on going, oblivious to the fact that she was on her way to visit her niece and her husband when all this happened in the first place.

Yes, Aunt Bernie. Still alive, still drinking at the ripe old age of 90. We no longer celebrate her birthday, but the day they denied her a driver's license.

1 comment:

Laurie said...

Oh … my … God! I've met old Auntie and always thought she was mean. Then I learned she was a mean drunk. But this is a revelation. A horny mean drunk. SHIVER! Laurie