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18 November 2008 @ 02:31 pm
Grandma's Dinner Part I  
ETA: This is a fictionalized version of my family in which I bring a fictional female partner home for dinner. In real life I never bothered, ended up coming out as bi and marrying a man after my mom, aunt and grandmother had passed away. Although I came out to my mom and she was completely accepting (back when I thought I must be a lesbian rather than bi) I didn't waste my time with the rest of the family. Some of Grandma's comments are from real life--she did say of my first husband "thank the lord he's white" for example, and did try to fix me up with a friend of hers while I was still married. When I wrote this originally I still thought I would indeed find a nice girl and get married. :)

Grandma’s Dinner

It was a typical conversation with my grandma.

“Teri, you’re not going to bring her, are you? Our neighbors won’t understand.” Grandma said in a warning tone.

I couldn’t help but point out that she was trying to hide her own disapproval behind the neighbors’ potential gossip.

“How will the neighbors know we’re lesbians if you don’t tell them? It’s not like we’ll be having sex on your lawn, you know!” I rolled my eyes, grateful that Grandma couldn’t see me over the phone lines. Maybe video phones aren’t such a great idea.

Grandma tried another tactic: “You know it will upset your grandpa…”

I interrupted, “Then I’ll talk to him, but I don’t think he’s the one who has the problem—you seem to be the only one who isn’t happy to see us together.”

Grandma sighed heavily. I wondered if she was glancing at her beloved Serenity Prayer plaque. For someone who revered it so much she sure had a problem putting it into practice.

“Terilyn, you know I don’t believe in your lifestyle. I’m never going to be able to sit across the dinner table from the two of you and act like everything’s normal. All I can think of is the sick things you two do with each other.”

I couldn’t resist. “Just what are you imagining—maybe you can give me some ideas!” Surely I would burn in hell for that remark!

“You’re not too old to have your mouth washed out!” Grandma said angrily.

“Actually, I am too old but I’m sorry, I won’t talk like that if you let us come for Christmas.”

“You and my grandbabies are always welcome to stay here for Christmas, Teri.” Grandma said this in a conciliatory manner as if the preceding conversation had not just taken place. I swear, growing up in my family was like living in the Twilight Zone.

“That’s nice, Grandma, but if Jessie isn’t welcome then we won’t be able to come either. We always spend Christmas together with the kids.” I decided it was time to be blunt. I realized I was gritting my teeth and stopped. I felt a familiar burning in my stomach and reached for a Tums. They were always nearby.

“Now why did you have to be so stubborn. You’re just like your mother!”

Annoyed, I made a face at the receiver. I swear, talking to my grandma reduced me to the level of a 2 year old sometimes.

“I’m sure I resemble Mom in many ways,” I said diplomatically, “But that’s not the point. It’s a shame the kids won’t be coming for Christmas, now, isn’t it?” I hated bringing the kids into it, but it was all of us or none of us. It seemed like I could never deal with Grandma without resorting to the same tactics she used.

“Why can’t you send the kids on the plane so they can see their family for Christmas? You know how Grandpa is looking forward to seeing them. He misses them so much!” Grandma was not quite pleading. “We hardly get to see them since you moved to California.”

“We’re a family and we spend the holiday together. If Jessie is welcome we’ll be there. If not…”

“If not you’ll go to her family’s again like last year,” Grandma said in her most poisonous, resentful voice.

It was my turn to sigh. “You’re right. You know, it’s really up to you.”

“Well, we’ll see what your grandfather says about it.”

Grandma wasn’t going to concede defeat right away, but I knew my grandpa well enough to know that this meant we were all invited. I was kind of hoping that we’d be joining Jessie’s family as usual. I loved her family—they always made me feel at home. Still, it would be nice to see my mom.

To be continued-
Tapatitapati on November 19th, 2008 05:58 am (UTC)
I should be clear that while this piece is based on my family, it's fictional. I sat down in the nineties and thought, "What if I brought home a woman partner for Christmas dinner? How would they act?" I was in a writing class. At that point I was coming to terms with being bisexual rather than the lesbian I'd thought I was, but still really believed I'd end up married to a woman. Then I met Dave and thought I'd date him until the right woman came along--and fell in love. I'm sure my grandma would have found something to disapprove of in him too.

I did come out to my mom but not the rest of the family--it seemed rather pointless if they couldn't accept my religion or dietary choices. My mom and aunt passed away in 1990, Grandma in 1993, and Grandpa in 1997. I was written out of my grandparents' will.

Some of Grandma's statements in this story are taken from life--thank the lord he's white was said about my first husband.

The names have been changed for the story.

I decided to post this now because of Prop 8 and also the holidays are coming and many of us must visit families that aren't always the most functional. :)