Monday, April 4, 2011


So I'm trying to talk to my mom about her possible visit this summer, and my aunt finds out I'm on the phone and literally snatches the cell out of my mom's hand. This is the aunt whose name means "narcissistic flake" in our family slang. As in "Don't be a (insert name of aunt)."

She has an annoying habit of presenting you with a gift and then telling you she bought it for herself in some exotic country and when she got home she decided she didn't like it and that's why you're getting it. It's like she can't help poisoning everything she does.

I feel bad for her that she is incapable of understanding why she alienates her family, and it's true that my mom and her other sister by their endless childhood taunts and torments contributed to her inability to embrace her full self, but it's impossible to fully love a narcissist. There's just not enough room for you.

So anyway, she's telling me how she's getting better and how much she weighs and I'm trying to be kind because I know she's been having a hard time with her health and I truly am glad that she's gone from 90 something pounds to 115, she needs the weight, and she has a whole litany of health complaints that she usually ticks off for anyone she can collar long enough.

Then she goes into more stuff about herself and wants me to send her all this information about health (because she knows I have that kind of stuff) and of course I will.

She tells me she's recently spoken to a cousin of mine who is within a year of my age (which my aunt knows because she was there when we were born, we were even born in the same hospital, you know what I mean?), she called him for his birthday and asked him how old he was and he says, "53" and she's telling me this and as if she suddenly remembered some rule about letting the other person talk, she asks me how old I am. And when I tell her, her response is, "I guess I can't keep telling people I'm in my fifties!" and she's not kidding.

She asks me about myself finally and after about three sentences (which is a lot of patience on her part, so I know she's trying), she tells me that she wants to get well enough to go back to Cambodia and help the poor children. Then she tells me that the last time she took a long flight she rewrote her will so that "half of it goes to poor children in Cambodia and the other half is split between poor children in India and Africa, and the rest will go to you kids." because it's so soothing to her when she's going on a long flight in case anything happens to her she'll die happy knowing that through her will she'll have accomplished the good she'd set out to do in life. Now I know she's probably spent almost every penny she's ever made, mostly on travel to places like Cambodia and India. But that's not the point. The point is that Aunt C. feels good about herself. Better than me, in fact, because she has sacrificed her fortune and her life to save the poor brown babies simply by flying to Turkey to see the Hagia Sophia again, or taking a bus with her (much) younger Indian lover to Kashmir and nearly getting kidnapped by terrorists.

"What a great idea," I tell her, and I can't think of any reason why it should be my business what she does with her will; I wasn't expecting anything anyway. Why would I? Whatever she willed me would probably come with a note saying she didn't like it and that's why I'm getting it.

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