Saturday, March 17, 2012

Two Families equals extra drama (continued)

As Orlando and I settled on the couch the week before Christmas, Spike and Cordelia were still out of their minds with the kitty-tastic stimulation of Christmas.  I was relieved that their destructive attentions were turned to wrapping paper and bows and the Christmas tree, instead of the couch and our curtains. I had just mixed a drink and handed it to Orlando. We had finished wrapping a pile of gifts and the room was a wrapping paper debacle with our kittens  romping about in absolute glee. I handed him some chips and a fresh batch of guacamole. " Nice job honey.", and the phone rang. He didn't even get to sip his drink. His Mother was on the other line and he put her on speaker phone. " Hi Mami" She was extremely distressed. She was gasping and choking back sobs and not making much sense and immediately we both sprang into alarm mode. She spoke mostly in Spanish so I wasn't getting what was going on. (Yet another reminder to take a Spanish class.)

The gist was that Lando's Mom felt attacked verbally by her little sister in such a cruel way it upset her deeply. The content was unclear but it was an old family wound that upset her so much she wanted Orlando to come up and get her right away. - AND here is where I went in my head for just a second- " Oh my Mother wouldn't do that to me." The drawback to that is that my Mother might endure a very difficult situation and then remind me over and over and over that she handled it herself and I never had to worry about a thing. You see in my family we handle our drama with hurtful silences and in his family...nobody really keeps their feelings to themselves. We will get to my family later...

I looked at the clock. It was 8pm! If he left to pick up his Mother he wouldn't be back until at least 1AM in the morning !- that is if he drove non stop! This was unacceptable to me. I saw in his face that he was resolved to rescue his very distressed Mother. I gestured at him that she try to stick it out until the weekend and we will get her then-OR maybe Dan or Margaret could drive her to the Amtrak station the next morning? "Doesn't she realize you have to work in the morning??"The whole time I looked like I was doing a very badly played game of charades while he was trying to soothe his Mother.  He was doggedly determined and assured her he would be there to pick her up. I knew I couldn't take the phone out of his hand and speak to her myself. My relationship with her wasn't that strong yet. As I listened to her I  thought it was interesting that she did the same gasping hiccuping sob that my own Mother does when she cries. It tugged at me.

The another realization slammed into me  ....omg LOOK AT THE HOUSE! IT'S NOT SUITABLE FOR MY POTENTIAL NEW MOTHER-IN-LAW. Orlando was putting on his pants and I was scooping up the wrapping paper. This was happening. Orlando's Mother was coming to stay with us. I kissed him  as he went out the door and ran around like a chicken with it's head cut off. Then ...I stopped...

Wait a minute. Maybe I could prevent this? Now hold on a minute P.A. This never went well for Lucy when she stuck her nose in Ricky's Night Club business. Yet I realized I had a decent relationship with Margaret. After all,  Margaret had confessed to me first about her new love while on Facebook one afternoon. Margaret and I were also fellow foodies. Unlike her family, Margaret ate a lot of fresh vegetables. This was one of our bonds. Orlando had deciphered through his Mother's sobs that she was alone in the house. Margaret had driven a rageful Irene off somewhere. This meant I could talk to Margaret and reason with Irene and maybe get the sisters to come to some sort of Peace treaty at least until Orlando and I can come up and get his Mother on the weekend. Then I can call Orlando and head him off at the pass and have him turn around and come home.

So I called Margaret. She was sitting in a car outside of a Casino trying to calm and sort things with her Mother. This out-of-control-squabble happened because Irene wanted to gamble and Lando's Mom thought she shouldn't. Margaret tried to explain to me what went down but - she didn't have a chance. Irene took the phone from her. She pressed the phone so tightly to her mouth, I had trouble understanding her words. Irene was sorry - very sorry our evening was disrupted and that Lando had to come up and fetch his Mother but not sorry enough to stop it apparently. She told me of her sister's jealousy of her life and it how critical she was and how she couldn't take it anymore and etc etc etc. I rapidly deduced there was no room for reasoning here. This was some sibling rivalry that I could not unravel. I had trouble wrapping my mind around the fact that Irene was portraying Lando's Mom as provocative given that the lady that I had met wasn't prone to making waves. Irene may have seemed loving and accepting but she was also dramatic. I resigned myself to the fact that I would see Orlando's Mother on our couch the following morning and said a sad good bye to Margaret and Irene and hung up.

Irene was not done. I guess she was still very angry at her sister and was determined to "stir the turd" (thank you Mrs. Sedaris*). She called me back because she was concerned for me. Silly me. I was actually bewildered. I asked why. She explained. Orlando's mother never trusted me. She never understood why her son hasn't asked me to marry him yet. (At the time that was true.) Irene went on to say if Lando's Mother says anything hurtful or cruel to me - which she probably will because she really doesn't like me, be sure not to react to it.  She smashed the phone tighter to her mouth and whispered "Instead, when it's late at night, just mention it to Orlando when you guys are in bed together so she can't hear. In fact , you can tell him all this stuff I just told you now."

I paused for a long time and took it all in. This was in direct opposition to everything I knew to be true. Orlando's Mother had surprised everyone by reacting very positively to meeting me. She hugged me for crying out loud. She even told her own daughter how great I was. As I was hearing what Irene was saying, I was amazed, that I was able to decipher what she was up to. Normally I would've taken the bait and engaged in a tangle of wills with Orlando's Mother and wouldn't have been pretty and Irene's little plan would have worked beautifully and her big sister would be sent back to Puerto Rico in tears or ...or ...My boyfriend would break up with me because I was mean to his Mother. I felt a brief surge of anger as I realized this. ...and I was hurt. I THOUGHT Irene liked me. Was she so pissed at her big sister she was going to throw me under the bus and break her nephew's heart too? whoa.... These Puerto Rican sisters fight dirty.  I collected myself.

I spoke with a light tone" Okay Irene. Thanks for the warning. I'll take that under consideration. We will see you at Christmas. Take care now. Bye bye" I was still mind blown but I was working hard to brush it all off. Orlando and his Mother came through the door around 1:15. She looked completely embarrassed that any of this had to occur. I welcomed her and asked if she wanted some tea. She politely declined and she went to bed. I did wind up telling Lando quietly in bed -so his mother didn't hear. It wasn't the way Irene probably expected me to do it. He asked if I was ok. I said I was surprised that she would go that far. Orlando shrugged and explained that they fight like that sometimes and rolled over and went to sleep. Eventually,  after a slightly uncomfortable visit with a couple a fun moments, she caught a flight back to Puerto Rico. She didn't spend Christmas with us. Margaret texted us at the LAST possible minute to say that the family wasn't coming for Christmas either. It wound up just being my brother and his fiance and our friends. I guess it was just as well because Orlando and I would not have survived that crowd 15 in our one bedroom apartment. Dinner should have been easy but I still ruined the roast.

*David Sedaris quoted his Mom in "The Christmas Whore"

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