DECEMBER 2004- APRIL 2006
Dear Madrone, I have been keeping company with a fine man, very nice family, makes good money. We are not spring chickens, that's for sure. Both of us have been around the block more than once, in vehicles, that I must admit were less than late model. But this time, I want to do it right, and he wants to do it now. This is a problem for would I not be giving the milk away, and thus preclude the buying of the cow?
Not so sad, but not so wise either, Marathon
I have this co-worker with a mouth on him, swears like a drunken sailor. In fact he is a drunken sailor, although I can't actually prove the drunk part. Or the sailor part. I can avoid the mamaluke most of the time, but it's a tap dancing school, and most of the students are not old enough to cross streets by themselves. Plus there is something just this side of creepy the way he shuffles off to Buffalo. Plus, he's the boss's nephew.
Kid Gloves, Monticello
It's January. Hop in de ass, as my grandfather, may he rest, used to say after a glass of two of home made muscatel. Time to remind you of the resolutions you should be keeping although you won't, why should this year be any different?
1. Take stock of who has what you want, and how badly you want it. Kiss up accordingly.
2. Figure out who wants what you have. Decide whether or not you want to give it to them and what they have to do to get it.
This really burns me up. I have friends come for coffee, they don't bring cake, they don't bring anything. They always come with hat in hand. I don't say anything, my mother raised me right. How can they get a clue? It's straining our friendship. I would no sooner go to someone's house without a present than I would run around town in my nightie. In fact I'm more likely to run around town in a nightie as I work for a club that caters to gentlemen who know what it means to bring a gift.
Indignant, Walla Walla
The nutjob who lives upstairs is out of her frigging gourd, excuse my French. All she wants to do is play the bongos, and that she does all hours of the night.
I call the police but she insists it's me that's making the noise, not her and since her brother in law is on the job, this sticks. To make matters worse, my past record with my town's finest, well, is not really the most stellar, even though it does not by any means include disturbing the peace with any type of musical instrument whatsoever. This leaves me up, as they say, the creek, no paddles of any sort remotely in view. I am beginning to get very cranky due to lack of sleep and cranky is not good, where I am concerned. Can you give me any advice that will not result in me doing something that every one will be sorry for?
Sleepless in Battle Creek
My oldest lives with a nice boy, and although I'm not wild about the not married part, you know what they say about the cow and the free milk; they tell me they are making plans. I don't interfere, I never say anything, because I am not a troublemaker, but I'm not blind either, that they are trying to figure out things like, who to visit on which holiday, whether they settle down near this one's mother or that's, and what size wedding to have, if god willing they ever decide to do such a thing. I understand, Madrone, the questions are normal. B
Dear Readers, It's September - time to go back to school. Don't get me started on school. A necessary evil, that's the best I can say. But what can you do? School is where kids first learn about power outside the family. They may or may not learn other stuff there, but believe me no one ever forgets having to fork over the lunch money to a goon or how good it feels to be the one in the middle when three friends go walking.
My problem is my son, my only child, the apple of my eye. Such a nice boy. He's handsome, like a movie star, polite, treats me like a queen. He makes good money, and is here every Thursday for my gnocchi, which he says is like no other. He buys us presents, like a new car on our anniversary and a cruise last summer. Not like some of those no goods who mooch off their parents and think who they are. So, why do I write? It's this. He's pushing forty, and he's not married. I know what you're thinking, but it's not that. I almost, god forbid, wish it were, if it meant he would settle down. No, every few months, he brings home a new bimbo.
My sister and I are having an argument, I love her, but she keeps hacking me about this matter and we want it settled once and for all, we have both agreed your word will be the last one. She says family can drop in without calling, I say no, a heads up is only right. The last time she did this, I was in the midst of "doing my taxes" if you know what I'm saying, and the IRS guy wasn't too pleased to be interrupted. A little privacy would be nice,
I have a problem, and nowhere to turn. I throw myself at your feet, and ask you to take pity on me. It's like this. My husband is out of the picture.He took himself out, if you know what I'm saying when he decided that after fifteen years, three children and God knows how many loads of laundry and hot meals, he'd rather date a hot load, who looks fifteen. So be it. He's dead to me, although so long as he's not busting my chops with the child support, I insist the children show him the proper respect.
There is this two faced rat fink, who is employed by my husband. She is in a wheelchair, which she plays up for pity, but let me tell you, if a baby squirrel was in between her and a chance to tell a lie, the road crew would be scraping the fur out of the wheel tracks. Here's the thing
I am the secretary for the Ladies Auxiliary of the American Legion. Ratfink is the president and her sister, that one, what a crepe hanger, always playing the martyr with her lumbago, is the treasurer. After our last pot luck, we came up $300 short. I'm not saying they lined their pockets, but I did say we should look into it.
I have two daughters, such good girls, we share everything, I have no complaints, like lambs they are. But I can see trouble coming. One of them is such a glamour girl, takes after my side, thank God. The other is not a prize winner, sadly her face could stop a truck, just like her father, even though every one will tell you that she also has his pleasant personality. Right now they're young, dates don't matter, but soon one will be getting all the calls, the other, nothing. It's harsh, but true. What will I tell the one when she asks me if it's her looks? I don't want to lie, but I don't want to make anyone unhappy. How can I answer her?
Dear Readers, I get tired of repeating myself, no one listens, but it can't be helped. Madrone, you keep asking me , what do you mean by family? My neighbor's cousin Dolly adopted a boy from one of those countries where terrible things happen…is that family? Or Sylvana treats her husband's aunt like it was her mother... is that right? Well, first let me say for me, family is blood. What can I say, in the village where my people came from, a stranger was someone you didn't have blood ties with, and we didn't marry strangers. Most people have eight great grandparents, I only have four. It's true, my hand to god.
My husband and I have been together for a long time, and he has always been kind, never cheated doesn't beat me. He makes a good living. But he wants to move, for a promotion, to another state. On the one hand, it would be a come up for him, a classier operation than the one he is in now, a pay raise, more respect from certain quarters that matter to him. On the other hand, we have a very nice set up here, my friends and family are near and I have a good job.
I am most confused. My wife, who is a doormat, has a mother who is a big problem. Not to me, my mother in law loves me, this I don't understand, for I would like nothing better than to see her, well if not wearing cement overshoes, with a few pebbles in her pockets, if you get my drift. What the deal is, I finally couldn't stand how she runs my Cecilia to the ground, all the time, no matter what Cecilia does, it's not good enough. I told her off, politely, of course, in a very thoughtful well composed letter, four pages, which I sent without telling Ceil. Now the mother calls to say that from now on we are both dead to her. Ceil is corked off at me. Is this fair?
My mother in law constantly criticizes my house keeping, and my husband will not take my part. She makes me feel like a babbo. The other day, she came over for dinner, but before she sat down to eat, she ran a vacuum around the house, and did a load of laundry, ironed the sheets, made the bed, then cleaned the water tank in the upstairs toilet, and swept out the leaves and dust from the garage. All the while she was rolling her eyes and reminding my husband that he deserved the best. He has no intention of speaking to her about his, it's his mother, I understand. Other than that with my husband I have no beef.
MAY 2006 -DECEMBER 2007
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Monk is a full time faculty member of Penn State University, where
she teaches creative writing, both fiction and non fiction. She
pursues freelance writing, authoring plays and feature articles.
She has broken nearly as many rules of family as she has enforced.
Rules of Family Archive