“Santa, Santa I’m so hot right now, I need a Fanta,” were the lyrics my sister, Ashley, began with for her Christmas freestyle. She had the remaining five guest’s attention now. “Merry Christmas tonight, look at all the Christmas lights,” as she began to slur her words from all the alcohol she consumed. All one-hundred pounds of her began to stumble now. Her blue eyes are glazed and turned red from all the cigarette smoke. “Wearing all this apparel,” she said pointing to herself, “and I’m singing this Christmas carol.” Everyone’s eyes were watered and my stomach hurt from laughing when she finished. I walked away when my girlfriend called, and I guess my sister decided she was going to have her first conversation with her then and there. She walked over, grabbed the phone and said, “Hey Taylor, isn’t that your name?” I couldn’t imagine what was going on in Taylor’s mind as my sister interrogated her for about five minutes. “You better not hurt my brother you brown-eyed Barbie,” she said as she handed me the phone. I was walking back to my car when Ashley yelled from her front door, “Can’t wait to see you again and tell Taylor I’m not completely insane!” It is safe to say their was never a dull moment that Christmas.
“Hello everyone and welcome to Biloxi!” I heard from across the grounded room full of my family’s friends. “Jay that rolled up piece of paper is not a microphone, and you have never been to Biloxi”. His wide eyes looked to me like two huge saucers; those big blues always had a way to remove any embarrassment I was feeling. He was six now and should have known better, but he was different from other kids. My special cousin was just that, special. The substantial scar above his left temple was apparent to whoever was close to him, which seemed to be everyone at that time. As I pulled his arm and told him to follow, he asked “Jamie, do you have your own house and car?” I nodded yes and secretly mumbled “shut up” under my breath. “And you have a job”? “Yes Jay”. “Well you’re an independent woman….. I.N.D.E.P….” With each letter he spelled he got louder and louder. It seemed that every eye in the room was on me and frowns appeared on their faces. “Jay please be quiet”, I whined with a pathetic voice ready to give up. Jay had no concept of the expected behavior at a funeral. He ripped his thick meaty arm from my tight grasp and bolted from my sight as fast a mouse from a cat. My hand flew to cover my face in shame and I wondered how I somehow became in charge of him that day. When finally I reached him, it was too late. He was on top of a chair with his hands flailing in the air as he shouted “Get silly!” My face turned bright red like a sun burnt tomato, and my teeth began to crush against each other as if I was biting down on a horse’s bit. He looked down at me and gave me a toothless smile as he asked me to join him on the chair. Blue haired women started to whisper while deep wrinkles formed between their eyes. “Jay now is not the time, get down”. I said without emotion. My voice had tired as well as my patience. He climbed down from the unsteady chair and grabbed my hand. I looked down and saw his short stubby fingers laced between mine, and I suddenly remembered the day he fell and hit his head. That was the day I knew he was going to be special.
It was Saturday, and it was a particular Saturday that happened once a year. “Ding Dong- Ding Dong- Ding Dong- Ding Dong-Ding Dong” was the noise of the doorbell ringing repetitively over the course of two minutes. I look up at the ceiling from my bed like I always do on this annual occasion and shout “Somebody please get the door!” Of course, no one responds and I still hear “Ding Dong-Ding Dong- Ding Dong- Ding Dong” sound of the doorbell soaring through the house. Being the first to volunteer, I rush to the door and open it. I look at the over-energized elderly woman and say “Grandma, you get here earlier and earlier each year.” “What? Why did you take so long to open the door?” coming from my grandma in a confused tone, “Come help us unload the van.” This was the typical start to these Saturdays. My Grandparents live in Rockport, Illinois and they make an annual epic trip on a saturday to visit us for the weekend as well as hauling an overwhelming load of old junk in their monstrous astro van expecting us to take whatever they brought when most of it should be tossed in the garbage. My mom would always tell me before they came “we’re just being nice so we don’t hurt their feelings; as soon as they leave, we can throw it all in the trash.” “Grab that box out of the front seat, why don’t ya?” my grandfather speaking to me, “your grandma put some chocolate candy in there for you.” I open the box and see hershey bars with the lion king movie advertised on it. “Grandpa, these chocolate bars are from 1995,” I tell him. “So” he says. “It’s 2005, so that means these are ten years old; I can’t eat these,” as I disgustedly inform him. “I don’t see how that is a problem; chocolate is chocolate” he tells me. Grabbing boxes and hauling them into the house, sorting through them whether they were boxes of used pens that had run out of ink, broken old toys, strange smelling deodorants, random odd-looking adhesive bandages that I had never seen before, worn shoes that did not fit any of us, 1960s clothes, odor reeking pillows, old magazines, and newspapers was exhausting. I toss the last empty box after sorting all the ancient items inside it and my grandma walks over to me concluding the activity with the statement “you’re lucky you have grandparents who are ‘pack rats’; this may be junk to you, but they are treasures to us.” “Wake me up for lunch and we’ll discuss this junk versus treasure issue,” I say to her, “Right now it is nine in the morning and I am going back to sleep.”
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It all began when my father jokingly said, “Jesus! Woman, I can hear your stomach growl from here.” We could tell he was in a mood. She retorted without even having to think about it, “Well if somebody would feed me every now and again, we wouldn’t have this problem.” This went on for five minutes, before I finally pulled up to a drive through. A line formed immediately due to a car glancing at the menu before ordering. “PULL UP! The menu hasn’t changed in fifty freaking years,” the infamous Riot Rick shouted to the car in front of us as he leaned over me and almost out the window. The only thing restraining him from jumping out was his seatbelt.This was nothing new to us. Actually, this was him on his best behavior. After the incident at Burger King, my mom called. “Rick, could you please pick up a present for your Godchild? I swear to God, if you make me…” My father cut her off before she could finish and purred into his cell phone, “Baby, don’t you worry. I know you’re stressed with work, but I've got this. Plus, they’ll be lucky to have sexiest man alive enter their store. Get ready for tonight, beautiful.” My sister and I gagged a little. He always did this. The mystery is, though, we are never really sure if he does this purposely for brownie points or just to make our lives a little more painful. We think it is probably both. Regardless, we headed to Target.We quickly chose the noisiest toy in the store. We hated our aunt, and this was our subtle way of telling her. As my sister and I stood patiently at the 20 items or less line, Riot Rick decided it was time for action. He began to loudly count the items in the old granny’s basket before us. “Twenty- two. Twenty-three, and oh my! Look at that! Twenty-four!” We had been in the line for approximately ten minutes, before he started making comments. When the fragile young blonde began scanning our items, he said, “You know what would be AWESOME?” The girl opened her mouth as if a sound was about to project, but he did not give her a chance to respond, “If you didn’t let people with more than 20 items go through your line.” My sister and I’s faces were flushed, and I could feel sweat droplets on the top of my lip. “Really, Dad? I mean really,” my sister said. He ignored her and kept going, “Why even put up these signs if you’re not going to follow them. Heck, why do we even have rules? That is what’s wrong with society these days…” His voice trailed off as we began to run. In my hand was the bag with the toy obnoxiously singing the alphabet, and even that was more pleasing to our ears than Riot Rick’s voice.
Walking home from school, I saw five cars squished in our narrow driveway. "Dad's friends must be visiting again," I said to myself. As I approached the door, I heard the old guys screaming, laughing, and clapping their hands. It sounded like they're having fun. I opened the door, greeted them, and gave them a bow. It is customary for children to bow to their elders. The four guys were sitting at our dinner table and at the far right was my dad. My dad is a gambler, a very cunning and optimistic gambler. "I won a dollar!," he yelled to me. "Great!" I yelled back while giving him a thumbs up. He can gamble day and night if my mom ever allowed it. His brown bum looking wallet is always filled with one dollar bills. He enjoys gambling for a dollar, never more. After a few hours, an old man at the table said, "I have to go pick up my wife." The old guys left one after the other. "Binh, help me clean up," my dad ordered. It was time to get rid of the evidence. Dad and I cleaned the dinning table, swept the floor, and did everything to clean the crime scene. It will be best if my mom didn't know. The house looked pretty clean. We didn't want to clean it too much because that would make her suspicious. "Everything looks good," my dad shouted. Thinking about our sneakiness, we sat on the couch and smiled. Our smile soon turned into us pulling our hairs out. "Oh no, I forgot to cook dinner!" he moaned. Mom specifically told him to cook dinner. He still had fifteen minutes left, and our bewitched clock was yelling at us. "Tick tock, Tick tock." Dad grabbed the chicken by the wing, threw it violently on the butchering board and started mutilating it like a madman. Chicken skin and blood were rockets. They bombarded our nice clean kitchen. Chopped vegetables were tossed into the caldron. The food was simmering. The house was getting a second clean. Suddenly there was a knock at the door, mom was home. "Binh, get the fried chicken from the car." mom ordered. "Oh honey, you cooked," she said, "I thought you forgot." "Hehe, why would I forget?" dad grinned. We all ate her food and no one ate Dad's chaotic green dish. "So, how much money did you win?" asked mom right out of the blue. "Eight dollars!" grinned Dad. Well, Dad got busted for the ninety-fifth time. We'll trick her someday.Binh Doanbdoan1@lsu.edu
Family get-togethers are always a fun time in my family. There's always the sweet scent of fresh baked bread along with a huge suculent roast. My Aunt Goo, as I call her, always takes control of the kitchen out our house when these functions take place. She's always yelling, "You kids get out of the kitchen" to us or "Don't touch that caserole until its on your plate" to my father who always tries to sneak an early taste in before the meal. My aunt Goo and my Father get into this situation at every gathering that we have. My mother is always in charge of the homemade desserts, in which we finish our meals as quick as possibly to get a slice of.I always saw Aunt Goo in the kitchen at these events, so at this one particular event I wanted to get outdoors and play with us kids. I always got a rousing game of baseball together with my cousins, so I figured that this would a great way to get her involved. "Aunt Goo," I yelled as I came running into the kitchen. "What Colby Jack, what," she jokingly answered. "You never play with us, and I got a game a game of baseball going just for you." She explained how she was much too busy at the time, but I persuaded her to come outside for a bit."Here Aunt Goo, you can bat first first, and I'll be your catcher," I told her. "Well how polite," she said. My cousin Eddie was pitching and gave her a pretty hard fastball for a nine year old. "That was much too fast for me Edward," she told my cousin. I suggested that she step back alittle towards me so she'd give the ball more time to get there. "Ready?", said Eddie. Aunt Goo just gave him a nod. Eddie gave her a soft under-handed toss up. When Aunt Goo Pulled the bat back to swing, the bat hit me in the head, and the only thing that I remember is seeing blood on my Aunt Goo's white cooking apron while we were in the car praying on our way to the hospital. Everything check out fine, and I got a couple of stitches to the noggin. Most importantly I got Aunt Goo to play with us kids and got some of here delicious roast beef.Johnathan "Colby" Coghlanjcoghl1@lsu.edu
The drive to Grammie’s house consisted of my brother and I counting the light posts alongside I-12 eastbound (243) from the O’Neal entrance ramp until we got off at the Pumpkin Center exit, right before Hammond, LA, or fighting over which line in the middle seat was the divider between the kingdoms of Rightsideopia and Leftsideopolis. The ride was only half an hour long, but the wars between the two superpowers of the continent Car lasted an eternity. After all of us ate dinner, our parents would tell us goodbye and they will be back in a week to pick us up. Everytime, without fail, the look on my younger brother’s face would read “You conniving bastards are going to leave us here again?!” The remainder of the week would be spent doing ‘fun’ activities. We would play the games Clean the Gutters, Organize the Tool Shed, and Fill the Bird Feeders. Grammie had two favorite games in the fall, Guess How Many Pinecones are in the Yard then Go Find Out and How Many Pine Needles Can You Gather in One Pile? Grammie lived on three acres of land with many trees. There was only one magnolia. As we got older, my brother and I called it Grammie’s Concentration Camp. My grandmother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer when I was in 6th grade. We made trips to Pumpkin Center three to four times a month that year; the light poles were left uncounted and the superpowers of Car had signed a treaty. After she passed away, my brother and I weren’t quite sure why my parents were fighting more than normal or why people were bringing us food that had never met Grammie. All we knew was that we didn’t have to go back to Pumpkin Center anymore and be forced to play Clean the gutters again.
My brother and sister dread going anywhere in public with my grandfather, Poppy, as much as I do. We are never embarrassed by our grandmother; she’s too sweet, but our grandfather is the polar opposite. My parents would always ditch us on outings with them saying that we should spend more grandchildren-grandparents time with them. We all knew that each spending time with Poppy was like having someone pull out five hairs out of their head each minute with him. My mom had the hardest time pretending to be nice to her father-in-law. She doesn’t completely hate him, but he is as stubborn as an ox and always thinks that he is right; her biggest pet peeve. Taking our seats at the table, the waitress brought us chopsticks and hot towels for our hands. The first words out of Poppy’s mouth were, “I need five forks here; we don’t know how to use these dag-blasted chopsticks. Oh, and bring some of those fried triangle bread things…won-tons or something of the sort.” I quickly followed him up with, “Just one fork is fine, and can we get some edamame.” I had learned to be on my toes with follow-up’s to whatever he said otherwise people would think he was an arrogant ass. I nodded to the waitress a nod that she understood as “I’m sorry for him,” and then informed Poppy that this was a Japanese restaurant, not Chinese. I don’t think he understands the difference between Japanese and Chinese restaurants. Being a veteran of the Korean War, he is not the biggest fan of Asian people and he thinks that they all come from the same culture and have the same customs. When it came time to order our sushi I knew that there would be some issue with him, there always was. Naturally, he tried to order for all of us at the table, but I shot him down when he began ordering. I ordered for myself and my brother and sister followed me with their order. It was Poppy’s turn to order for him and my grandmother, “I want one crunchy roll, one California roll, and 2 salmon rolls.” I thought that had gone over well, but then he opened his big mouth again, “Look now, when I say one crunchy roll I don’t want just one piece of a crunchy roll, I want 6.” The waitress looked confused. I felt for her, how many people try telling the waitress or chef how to make something at their own restaurant. “Ok, so you understand? I want 6 crunchy roll pieces, 8 California rolls and 4 pieces of salmon rolls. Ok?” the poor waitress then replied, “So you want 6 orders of crunchy roll, 8 California and 4 Salmon?” Her confused face looked as if Poppy was speaking a foreign language to her. Poppy then got frustrated, “Listen to me, I said a crunchy roll, but 6 pieces, not just one and so-on with the other rolls.” He went on and on until I finally had to take the waitress out of her misery and order for them. As we walked out of the restaurant Poppy was hot and bothered, still mad at the waitress. Pulling out of the parking lot he said, “I don’t know why these Chinese restaurants don’t just hire Americans who can understand me.” I just left him thinking it was a Chinese restaurant because I couldn’t bear listening to the whole story again about how he was right and the “Chinese” waitress was wrong.
My sister, Laura, is an extreme nut case. That is basically the long and short of it. I'm talking this bitch has to have some sort of serious head problem. I mean she's my own sister and I love her to death but good lord.To give you a good idea of what I'm talking about let's cite a couple of examples.The first one is the way she drives. Now all of the male readers have probably ridden in the vehicle with a young female driver and thought to yourself, "man I hope the last time I had sex wasn't the last time of my life because it sucked." Of course you think this to yourself because young female drivers are terrible drivers to say the least. To put my sister's driving into perspective just go ahead and multiply you're worst driving experience by 10 and you hit the tip of the iceberg. On top of that is excessive road rage and the need to hit her passenger for no reason. Why you ask? I don't f***ing know.Another reason she is nuts is her wonderful little quirk I like to call split-crazy bitch personalities. Seriously this girl shifts from happy and playful to satan's pissed off cousin on meth on a dime like a damn professional riding lawnmower. I can't even tell you how many times I have been in awe at the kind of crap she's pulled on me. I don't know though, maybe she's just this way around me.
Straight from Italy, my family is load and obnoxious, especially around the dinner table. I know i have to be ready for the typhoon of madness and screaming that always seems to accompany our Sunday dinners as a family. "sit up straight, you look like a ball of mozzarella sitting in the hot sun! now get up and do some chores and help out!" is the first words i hear as i just get there and take my seat. Knowing that what my grandmother had just yelled at me was contradictory in itself, i kept my mouth shut because i knew it would be an extremely risky, and not to mention possibly deadly move if i were to make a smart remark to an Italian elder. I got up, and right as i stood, once again i heard that obscene noise that i guess you could call a voice say "where are you going im not done talkin' to you duro intestato (which means hard headed in Italian, and apparently a this was my name)!" Confused, yet again, because she contradicted herself for the second time in about three seconds i gave her a look of concern. She had been getting old and i thought maybe this was Alzheimer's Syndrome starting to set in. Then, like a car accident i didn't see coming i was hit by noise. She looked at me and said "lookie here young one, if you want to survive as long as i have, you best stop thinking im going mental when i contradict myself!" "What the hell," I said, thinking to myself "how did she know that," and "I was only being concerned for her" and "that what had just happened was out of place." Once again, I went along my way, creeped out more than ever now that i have a psychic granny. I walked into the kitchen still trying to wrap my thoughts around what just happened, when my Aunt bellows out "hey, get your lazy butt in this kitchen and fix the table, and stop thinking that just because your talking to your grandma, doesn't mean its going to get you out of your share of work!" "Really? Is she serious?" I thought, and before I could even finish that thought, she screamed out "and YES! I'm serious!" "Ok Sarah, your whole family has ESP and your going to go crazy if you don't keep it together!" i said to myself as i started setting the table. As if I should have known better, my cousin walks in the room and screams out "I'm hungry set the table faster so we can get this show on the road!" Again i thought... "really?"That was it. I finally said my weighing two cents, which to this day i can't remember what I said because before I knew it, i got slapped across the face by my mother as she yelled out "duro intestato child!!! Are you feeling ok? because if so I'll change that real quick for opening that mouth!""Damn," i thought. Ok i get it, keep my mouth shut no matter what around this insane Italian family.
Staring out the car door window I wait patiently for the ride to be over as the music from my headphones calms me. I always hated these rides. Tylertown, Mississippi. The single most boring place I spend parts of my childhood visiting. Why? Why do we have to go visit him? Can't we leave the grumpy old Frenchman alone? He doesn't even like us. Pulling up the driveway, I notice the familiar land, occupied with a small house for one, a giant garage, and cows that sprinkle over 150 acres as if they were candy on an ice cream cone. Ice cream, mmmm that sounds good. Hopefully he will bring us somewhere to eat, and treat me to some ice cream. Then I wouldn't mind him much.My mind snaps back into reality as my mom hops back in the car from opening the gate. I know she doesn't like coming either, but it's her father, she has to respect him. I keep my headphones on as Mom recites the rules of behavior to my two sisters and I. Blah blah blah. It's all the same to me. I wished my dad still came with us, he knew just how we felt and I'm sure he felt the same, if not more. He never did get along too well with Grandpere. I wouldn't either if the old bastard tried telling me how to raise a family, when he nearly destroyed his own. My mom is so much happier now that she doesn't have to obey the strict rules he laid on her. It was never easy growing up in her shoes, being the only girl, having your father judge you left and right, never letting you do anything independently. God I'm glad she's happy now. Stepping out of the car I wonder what he's going to say this time. As cool as it is that he speaks to us in French, it still bothers me knowing how big of a hypocrite the man is. To the public eye, he is the sweetest old man that will sing you foreign melodies that woo many; a religious man. More religious than any other being I know, always following Catholic Church with whatever cynical views they put on society. His house is full of crosses, pictures, books, anything that has Catholicism and dust written all over it. The whole cover he puts on makes me sick, knowing that inside that 86 year old body is really the devil himself. How could you pretend to be such a good person when in your past you threatened and beat the only two important women in your life- Mom and Grandmere. I wish she were alive, I never did get to meet her. Parts of me think he did it, he killed her. But I can't assume what I don't know, so that mystery will be left in the dark. I step onto the porch and stare at the door as the doorbell chimes. I take a deep breath. The door opens. Here we go, hopefully this will be over soon. Oh no, he wants a kiss...
Every couple of months my sister and I get the zany entertainment we can only associate with a visit from Gram, my crazy mother’s even crazier mother. This past week’s visit was a peculiar one, even for my grandmother, whose best known talent is miraculously turning ordinary restaurant visits into the “tell the waitress her life story starting with her childhood in Alabama and moving to her divorce from my grandpa 30 years ago and then skip straight ahead to “cute” quips about her dog, Sissy, and how hilarious it is when she sniffs other dogs’ butts” game. Every time I hear the forced laughter of the waitress with her ears bleeding from the verbal assault I am reminded why I vowed long ago never to work in the restaurant business. The interesting part about last week’s visit was what happened when she noticed that a girl sitting near us at Izzo’s was attempting to consume a salad that was larger than my grandmother could fathom. From then on our conversation was peppered with exclamations of “Would you look at that salad! D you think she’s going to eat it all? I can’t believe how big that salad is!” all of which were heard by the girl, who hadn’t realized when she ordered that her food choice would be a source of fascination for a nearby observer. Our meal finished with her sad realization that the girl had left before my grandmother could observe exactly how much of the salad she managed to eat. “Did you see if she finished it?” she asked desperately, looking at both my sister and me. Most memories I have of Gram involve some kind of food. Like her tradition at Christmas doing laps around the appetizers table, chasing my Dad’s sister around asking her mundane questions about ceramic snowmen on sale and demanding that my aunt admit that Gram’s seven layer dip wasn’t as good as last year.
7 a.m. Time to Wake Up “Waaaaake, waaaake, waaaake……….” Is all I heard as I turned my body 180 degrees from what sounded like a screeching voice coming from my alarm clock. “Awake poor girl, awake child,” is what I heard before opening my eyes to my worst nightmare. It was exactly 7 a.m. and the sun had just creeped from its slumber , painting the skies with a translusive mix of red and orange, a picture perfect sunrise. Out of nowhere a small, pale, freckled hand, with skin that seemed to have forgotten to snap back to the muscle grabbed my throat and muttered something to someone else. As the supply of oxygen to my lungs was reduced to a minimum, I began to sweat profusely. For fear of death, my eyes scanned the parameters for an escape route, but slowly I came to realized that I could not even control my own mind. Again the owner of the claws with ragged skin spoke: “Child, don’t try to move okay, you’re hurt pretty bad, and you are losing a lot of blood.” Just like that, just like that, the nightmare began. Somewhere in my mind, I came to comprehend that I must have been in some sort of accident. With what seemed like a headlight, a blaze of white light was shined on my eyes and as I tried to look beyond the light, the blaze intensified thus causing tears and burns to the soft tissues on the cornea. I tried to speak in order to have the blazing light off, but I soon discovered that the strangulation by the claws where to stop the bleeding from my throat. With that I began to cry. Suddenly I gained strength when a second had reached my throat and I gave all my strength as I punched the person who touched me, only to find that it was my sister trying to wake me up because it was 7 a.m. and time to wake up.Mtati1@lsu.edu
The Incredible AuntI would walk into my grandmother’s house every holiday with my face pointing toward the floor hoping my eyes would not connect with hers. I knew exactly where she would be, on the easy chair facing the television almost like she hadn’t built up enough energy to move since the last time. Her hand would reach down for the handle on the recliner, trying to shift all 350 pounds of her body weight, she would finally grasp it. As if that wasn’t hard enough, she would use all of the strength she had left to lift her legs, which were almost as big wide as they were long. At the half way mark, she always took a break to recover from the panting and sweat dripping from her bright red face. She rarely continued from there. My siblings and I would always pass the time while trying to see who could find the separator between her head and body. Black wiry hair pointed everywhere on top of her head complete with a bald spot right in the middle she unsuccessfully tried to cover. Every time my mother walked into the room my aunt would sneer at her in jealousy. She envied my mother’s lifestyle and knew hers could have been the same. I never blamed her. Who wouldn’t want more than an unemployed husband who was too lazy to show up for a job interview? My siblings and I knew this is why she treated us as dirty little servants. Eye contact was a mistake because she would take the opportunity to order you to do the cleaning she was too lazy to do.“Corey,” my aunt said, “Throw my plate away for me.”Every child in my family knew not to go too close to my aunt in jeopardy of having to give her a refill, get her a plate of food, or even take her socks off. I even remember having to serve food to her son, Mark, when he was twelve years old! I like to use her as an inspiration to want to become completely different than firstname.lastname@example.org
[1st ya ya submit, this is NOT my rewrite]I told my mom I did not take that money. I said “Randy and I” when she asked me who was in the house. She paused for a second realized that Randy was the culprit. I can’t believe Randy did that, after all, he’s the older brother he should know better. My mom went to him and simply asked, “why did you take it.” Randy immediately gave his self away and said “I did not steal that money.” An along waited incident for Mom because she didn’t like Randy. She always said that Randy’s not her son because Dad had him before they met. After this my mom decided that she has had it with Randy. She decided to give him kicked him out. Randy packed up his things and moved with a friend. Two weeks later my Dad arrived home from Texas on a business conference and Randy was not home. He asked us where Randy was and we told him that Mom kicked him out. Dad immediately stormed to my mother and asked what the problem was. Mom explained but he really didn’t want to hear it. He said that Randy was his son and he should have been involved with the decision of kicking Randy out. He asked where is Randy living and Mom told him with a friend. “Not those thugs that we been trying to keep him from, right?” Mom shrugged and said “he’ll be fine” and finished watching television. During dinner we could feel the tension at the table as we ate. No one said a word. Dad kept looking at Mom shaking his head. Mom just rolled her eyes and finally said “will you get over it!” He threw his fork down, put his jacket on, and went out the door. Dad pulled up at the friend’s house where Randy was suppose to be. No one was home, he pulled up the block and saw three kids standing on the corner. He noticed that one kid was Randy’s friend. Dad asked him where was Randy. The Kid shrugged his shoulders and said he didn’t know. Then one of the other kids said “who Big Randy? They call him BR now, he rolling with the Fredricks.” The Fredricks was a local gang wanted in numerous murders. Dad eyes got real big and red. He rushed home and told Mom the news. She refused to believe and went on to say “if he did join a gang it’s because you have not been there for him.” They fused their selves to sleep but, Mom felt a little guilty and went out that night to look for Randy. She saw Randy and hollered his name. He looked at her and walked off. Mom shouted “fine go out there and get yourself killed.” She went home and went to sleep. When forty-five minutes later Dad was awoke by the phone call. I was up playing my game when I heard, “Yes this is me, Yes that’s my son, What! No! God! I’ll be there.” Mom and Dad left and went to the local hospital. Randy was shot in a drive by shooting. Doctors did all the could but was unable to save him. He was D.O.A. Mom and I sat in the waiting room while Dad went completely crazy in the hospital. Mom whispered in my ear “Randy stupid self had it coming.” I honestly didn’t know what was going on because I was only four years old. John "JAY" Brignacjbrign4@lsu.edu
Every time a holiday comes around, I know exactly why my parents start to whisper furtively amongst themselves. With holidays come crazy relatives, and visiting those relatives. My mother’s mother is that relative. The house phone begins to ring off the hook, occupying most of my mother’s time. “What time are ya’ll coming,” Maw-Maw Joan yakked into the receiver. My Maw-Maw Joan is a 70 percent Italian woman, born and raised in St. Bernard- the accent is hard to miss. “Probably sometime around 12, Mom,” says my mother reluctantly, rolling her eyes. “Oh, well I’m going to cook my special yams for ya’ll…Cassie’s favorite,” Maw-Maw responded, clearly happy with herself. One visit my sister made the sad mistake to mention to our grandmother that her yams tasted good. A few days later, the phone rang again, only to be ignored and left for the answering machine. “Beep… ‘Hey Pam, it’s your Mama. I was just going to ask you what time ya’ll were coming and if you wanted me to make something. I was thinking about making Cassie’s favorite yams. You know she always tells me she loves those yams…” she trailed on retelling Cassie’s dumbass mistake, only to be cut off by the machine. The whole household tended to get tenser and meaner as the visits got nearer. Finally my dad would sit me and my sisters down for our annual pep talk the night before we had to go. “Okay, girls” my father said sympathetically, “We’re going there for 12 and we won’t stay any longer than 2. I have shit to do.” My sister and I knew about obligation, and this was the ultimate one. We all piled into one car, fully equipped with IPods and books, ready for the three hour drive to Mississippi. My father’s mother hated Mississippi. We never knew why, but I think that Maw -Maw Joan is the reason. The drive was never always that far, of course. Maw-Maw Joan was a nomad at heart. She and my grandfather, just since his retirement, have lived in at least three, completely different houses in completely different cities. No one knew what went through their mind, but we expected this of her. She lived for fifty years in the house in which my mother and aunts grew up. As soon as my grandfather retired and Maw-Maw’s sewing business dwindled, they sold the house and bought a fixer upper house trailer, needing serious maintenance. The trailer was in Lacombe, Louisiana, a god-forsaken town in the heart of Hickville. There was no cell phone signal any where close and the neighbors lived a mile away. “We like the fresh air in the trailer better than the house. Plus Charlie saw some blacks moving in down the street, Maw Maw Joan said. She and my grandfather were both extremely racist, even though both their parents came off the boat. “That house in St. Bernard was too big. This way me and your Paw-Paw can relax until we kick the bucket. So ya’ll don’t have to worry about us.” She always knew how to make the grandkids uncomfortable. She wanted her death to be a musical. Number one in the box office.A couple weeks later, when my Paw-Paw hurt himself trying to dig a pond for Maw-Maw Joan, they moved again. This time to small two, bedroom condo in Diamondhead, a retirement subdivision, fully equipped with a golf course and plastic flamingos. Often were times when Cassie and I would ride around the neighborhood in my grandfather’s golf cart, waving unenthusiastically at all the other retirees. Those trips on the golf cart were our escape from Maw-Maw Joan. “Ya’ll are always on that thing. Why can’t you sit with me and help me cut coupons?” She would ask, annoyingly. “Right, Maw-Maw, that’s what I want to do with my day,” Cassie would say. Cassie didn’t have any patience for our grandmother, and everyone knew it. When their arguments would get so bad, I would have to act as the referee, calling flags and unsportsmanlike conduct. No visit with my Maw-Maw Joan was ever boring, but you couldn’t help to yearn for a sense of normalcy. But then again, who is normal? Cady Carrerasccarre2@lsu.edu
“Oh, Emily. Where did you find this one? He’s a handsome thing! Get over here, sugar.” my grandmother said to me as I hopelessly attempted to formally introduce her to Jimmy. I just knew this would turn out horribly one way or another. “Granny, this is Jim-“ I tried to say before she pushed me out of the way, shoved her wine filled jelly jar into my hands, and threw herself onto him. He laughed awkwardly and stared at me in a way that clearly meant, “Wow, you were right.” I turned to hug my sister, and when I turned back, I found Jimmy struggling (very politely) to get out of Gran’s tight grasp of his face. With lips puckered and making kissy noises, I knew exactly what was coming, and poor Jimmy obviously did too. Before I could reach them, she had him pinned up against the wall, and he had no way to escape unless I peeled her off of him. I franticly yelled, “Granny stop! He just walked in the door.” Luckily, she backed away laughing as I grabbed his hand and led him into the living room. “I’m sorry,” I mouthed to Jimmy while he laughed, trying to hide his nerves. That was too easy; this was obviously her first glass of wine for the night. I warned Jimmy about my crazy grandmother before hand, but there was nothing I could have said to prepare him for the real thing. Even the stories from my childhood of Granny picking up sea shells and stuffing them down the front of her bathing suit. On one of our vacations to Florida, she even pulled out soggy pretzels when I asked her where the snack food was. “Just eat ‘em! There still good!” Or the time she watched me and my sisters and gave us black toast with our dinner. “Just eat it! It’s good for your gums!” she demanded. Not to mention the countless stories of her hitting on every male that walked past her and wasn’t related to her at family gatherings such as this one. Since I was already mortified, I thought that maybe the worst was over.Surprisingly, dinner went smoothly. After all, we sat at the kids’ table, which now consisted of anyone who was under the age of 35 since we’re all pretty much grown. However, the same could not be said for after dinner when we all sat in the living room to watch the game. My cousin, who is two years older than me, had brought her month-old baby girl with her to meet the family. Yes, Marion was only 22 and still in college when she got pregnant, but these kinds of things are simply not discussed at events such as Thanksgiving. Apparently, Gran didn’t get that memo. “Look at her! She doesn’t even know how to feed her own child! But how could she, right?” Gran yells to my mother sitting right next to her as Marion was bottle-feeding baby Clair on the couch. “Knock it off Granny. I didn’t ask you for any help,” Marion finally blurted as her face turned to an angry shade of red. “Well, I was just trying to help.” “You ungrateful kids have no respect,” she said loudly to herself, clearly intending for everyone to hear. “You just make a grandma so proud!” Here we go. This is my cue to get Jimmy out of here before he witnesses a family battle. I think he’s gotten a good dose of my family for one night. Bless him. Emily Worshameworsh1@lsu.edu
Back in the middle school days I can remember plenty of sleepovers at my cousin, Sarah’s, house. My aunt used to say it was my “home away from home”. After all the countless nights I had roamed around her house, one would assume I would have come to know her family pretty well, but when asked how my uncle was doing; I would answer, “I can’t even remember the last time I saw him away from the kitchen table and his newspaper”. After one interesting late night I found out a little more about my uncle’s mysterious personality, or lack thereof.It was about 10:00pm on a Saturday night, and Sarah and I were in her room gossiping about boys or school or something of the sort. My uncle quietly bumped the door open and through a forced mumble he asked, “Y’all want to go see a movie?” Confused and fumbling for a response, I whispered to Sarah, “Who leaves to go to a movie at 10:00?” She leaned over, her voice drifting in and out, and said, “He does..All the time. I think he’s gone crazy”. After staring blankly at his emotionless face for a few moments Sarah asked, “Dad, do you even know what you’re going to see?” “No” he responded, “just gonna drive up there and see if anything good’s playing”. By this time, we had realized neither of us had anything better to do. We accepted the invite and made our way to the van, not knowing what to expect.Once we were settled into the van it took us a solid 20 minutes to travel an ordinarily 5-10 minute trip. I had always heard my mother complain about him, saying, “That man would be late to his own funeral if it was up to him”. Now, I had first handedly experienced what she meant. Throughout the ride we were somewhat silent, not even a faint sound of music, until Sarah posed the question, “Can a policeman pull you over for going too slow?” After that I was hysterical, but my uncle didn’t seem phased. It was at that moment, my mom’s remarks, saying, “He is about as interesting as a brick wall” were confirmed and understood.Lauren Braudlbraud6@lsu.edu