Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Meet the Rest of My Family


Contrary to the celebratory reaction shots during ESPN's annual coverage of the NBA draft, not every Negro is blessed with a big family.

This might be why we continue to invite my side of the family over to Stately Bootleg Manor every Thanksgiving. My mother, my aunt and my grandfather don't take up much space -- yet after a few hours...I want my house back. But, since they DID come down from LA, we invited them to stay overnight.

My Mother: I've mentioned -- on more than one occasion -- my obese adolescence and the delicious, often deep-fried role my mother played in it. I took Jalen out to pick up some ice around lunchtime on Thanksgiving Day. We made a separate, somewhat out-of-the-way side trip, but couldn't have been gone for more than 45 minutes. In the time we were gone, my mom had prepared an assortment of appetizers, including spinach-artichoke dip, deviled eggs and a blue cheese dip with crackers and veggies.


Years ago, I stopped taking my mom up on her offer to "make me a plate". She believes in enormous portions and takes great offense to an unfinished meal (and slightly less offense if you don't go back for seconds). To this day, my greatest regret is that I didn't have this lightly-read blog when the future Mrs. Bootleg was obligated to eat her weight in my mom's meat loaf when she met my parents for the first time. Unfortunately, my 83-year-old grandfather allowed my mom to make his plates. Plural, yo. And, despite having twice as much food in front of him as anyone else, he gamely -- albeit glacially -- ate more in one sitting than HIS grandparents ate during the entirety of the 1800s.

My Grandfather: You know how those long cross-country flights require varying degrees of recovery time for your body? Several years ago, I flew -- terrifically hungover -- from Washington DC back home to San Diego. I landed on a Friday night, but didn't wake up until Sunday afternoon. That's how my grandfather's body seemed to react to the 90 minute drive down Interstate 5.


Now, after more than 3 1/2 decades as a grandfather, he was able to auto-pilot some sincere interaction with his great-grandson, Jalen. He brought J $100(!) and then watched him throw a soft baseball around the living room. He listened as Jalen meticulously explained the intricate details of his hastily-scrawled drawings ("It's a baseball team!"). Hell, my grandfather and I even had a chance to compare recent medical histories (and, depending on your perspective, I'm either winning or losing). But, after a few hours, he was literally sliding down our couch. I'm convinced he finished the last two pounds of his meal while in R.E.M.

My Aunt: I've
written about my aunt before. She'll always be the first lesbian I ever knew. I've been blessed to know many more gays and lesbians in my lifetime -- friends, acquaintances, co-workers and lightly-read blog readers. So, I hope those of you whom I know and love will forgive this bit of generalization, but I have never met a member of the gay community who wasn't incredible with kids -- mine, in particular. I really hope that doesn't sound like "Blacks sure run fast!" platitudes.

My aunt will be 60-years-old next March. She's shuffling around on bad knees and an even worse hip, but she absolutely ran Jalen ragged well into the evening. She pitched to him. She threw the football with him. She limped around the living room after him as part of the worst game of tag in the recorded history of humanity. She did the same stuff with me 30 years ago and...aw, crap. I'm getting choked up. Time to remember the TBG tone and point out she needed half a bottle of Tums to get through the evening and has a proclivity for early morning peein' with the door not-quite-closed.

Can't wait until Christmas.

4 comments:

that mexican guy said...

Consider yourself and the Cam Fam invited over to our Xmas Eve Mexican gathering of tamales, tequila and more desserts than you've ever seen in one evening.

If three hours of that doesn't give you a week's worth of material...

Tom said...

Your mom and my mom are apparently the same person. When I got to her house for Thanksgiving, she had deviled eggs, celery canoes with pimento cream cheese, a full loaf of pepperoni stromboli, buffalo chicken strips, and (ironically) Wheat Thins ready to go as appetizers.

We also, coincidentally, share a husky adolescence.

That Bootleg Guy said...

Ah, the celery canoes! We had 'em, too. We also had a chilled bowl of black olives. My family wheels out the black olives at EVERY gathering. I never quite understood why, since no one else seems to consider olives a party staple.

And, Mex, just so we're clear: are you serious about the invite or are you invoking one of those self-loathing stereotypes?

SHough610 said...

My mom also makes an incredible spread. Why are black, Jewish, and Italian women such good cooks? Does the pain of discrimination make cooking skills better?

Joe, my family has pizza and (real) buffalo wings from DiPaulo's (do you know DiPaulo's? It's in Tonawanda or Kenmore)