Sunday, October 16, 2005

Cultural Relativism and Mark

Theme of my 20 hours in Florida: Cultural Relativism

I just got in from FL, having attended another wedding…my second in the last 2 weeks. We are so close to my mother’s side of the family that out of my family of 6, only 3 of us attended and we left for my cousin’s Sat afternoon wedding, Sat morning—having spent a whopping 20 hours total in the state of Florida. I didn’t even have time to burn my naturally fair skin.

I know God tried to intervene by having us almost miss the flight. My mom waiting for over 45 mins for us inside the terminal called every 5 mins, trying to figure out where we were. (Getting a train Sat morning out of Penn Station to the air train is tres dificil). With 33 mins before the plane departs, my sister and I are running through the Song terminal, calling out for my mom. We find her with tears in her eyes, convincing the woman behind the counter to check her in without all of us being present, which she does successfully and gets us moved into the Emergency Exit row! Mom rocks. Until she stars to worry about having a “cash bar” at a wedding (what would Emily Post think?!) and she envisions out loud every single scenario where she could stick the bill to my Aunt. PS, there wasn’t a cash bar.

However, like 90% of the “family vacations” aka when my mom and sister and I go to FL together, I realize how it is small miracle that my mother is not more crazy. Although these vacations make us closer, we also fight like rival gangs at Riker’s Island. Especially on a plane, especially without sleep, especially when my frustration with my mother and sister was illustrated as I punched the seat in front of me, almost getting into a fist fight with the woman’s seat I hit. But I’ll elaborate on that part a little later.

My mother is the black sheep of her family. And like the geeks in HS who lost 50 lbs and made a billion dollars the min they left their hometown, she looked forward to this reunion with a vengeance. Me and my sister were her ticket to tell her family, “go fuck off, I made it, your kids are all pregnant and uneducated, look how smart AND beautiful my girls are”. But with that desire to show my sister and me off like dogs at the Westminister dog show (I swear she almost lifted my lips to show off my teeth and gums to the recipients of her bragging) she inadvertently brought us into her sick little game. She presents me as women’s college educated-applying to Columbia for her MA in Quant Methods-perspective NYC society ball dancer-budding ad agency career. (Fuck, I do sound like an amazing catch, by the way).

Which would be all fine, if we were at a party on LI, where children are used routinely as trophies of good parentage. But we were in South Florida, in a tiny “country club” seated next to people our age with babies and marriage certificates and fascinated that my rent is $2400 for a 2 bedroom. Our outfits only served to reinforce how out of place we were, all black, simple jewelry, and hair straightened to perfection…

Fine , I just described my sister but since she is related to me, I looked like that by association. Granted I had to sniff test the pants I wore to the wedding, febreeze the shirt, and only had one toe-nail painted b/c only my big toe was exposed in the shoes that I wore…but I digress.

I was confronted with a culture that expected me to be on my way to getting married and having children. I experienced my Bridget Jones’ “when are you going to get MARRIED! Shannon?” Who the fuck asks a 23 yr old that question, anyway?! I replied with a smile on my face, “When I stop dating gay men.” The look of shock from my cousin, the groom, and the bride’s father was priceless. Especially when my cousin asked me, “really?!” Yes Jake, really. Obviously my cousins only hear the good parts about me and my mother fails to tell them the sick and twisted sense of humor fate has when my life is concerned.

But that is exactly what it was like at the wedding, a cultural schism exposed. I am a NYer. The neurotic Jewish variety who name drops, star fucks, pays too much rent, and who doesn’t know the name of her Chinese launderer who cleans her underwear. I wanted so badly to relate to the guests at the wedding but realized I lost them when I uttered, “Hey, let’s go steal golf carts from the clubhouse. My friends and I got loaded during our college reunion and rode around as campus cops chased us.” That would have been fine in the Northeast among the upper middle class quasi-snobs whom I grew up with. The kids who I was talking to stole real cars in their day and got chased by real cops. None of them went to college, some had children/were already married and that left my sister and I grabbing at any type of small talk. What do we talk about?!

Weddings are always interesting things because they take people who never see each other for 20 yrs, throw in a lot of booze and you have the exposure of family secrets and embarrassing moments that will never be forgotten. My mom running around telling my Aunt’s ex-husband how he fucked up the kids, my Aunt getting smashed, and my mom basking from validation that she is the good person since her kids are living this middle class dream, that I honestly want no part of, as she shoves it down all the guests throat. I guess the family missed the memo about this blog. When things seem the most perfect, they are usually the most fucked up. My job at a prestigious ad company in point---I cry at my desk for hours on end! But they just see the grad school applying, college graduate, NYer and not the details that make my life go from charmed to semi-charmed to sometimes downright frustrating. Hence, we didn’t get an invite from the Uncle Henn drinking cousins to hang out with them post party. But I did get to listen to my Aunt tell me "If you gained any more weight your boobs will saglike mine." Well at least I will never be a nasty bitter hag like you!! And BTW, I have never heard anything less than glowing reveiws about my boobs. And the day that they do sag? I have a boob doctor already in mind...

Tomorrow I’ll write about the flight home, which was fucking hysterical. If you ever see 3 women traveling together, one older woman with dark graying hair and 2 girls who look like each other, except one looks like the Jewish version of the other, save yourself a headache and run off the airplane. We have a nasty habit of speaking really loudly, yelling at each other, crying, and smacking each other. And yes, my sister and I are 22 and 23 respectively.

And a shout out to the note on the main door to my apt. Mark, I hope you met up with your friend at Café Vivaldi on the corner of Bleecker and Jane because he couldn’t keep standing there. He has a bum leg (swear this is what the note said).

Mark, I hope you found your friend with the bum leg.


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