Monday, July 17, 2006

Taming the Beast

"He's already dropped the N-bomb twice," Marilee hissed as she pulled another cushy seat up to our hotel lobby table. And yes, she meant that N-bomb. The worst one. The one white people do not say.

This weekend, I travelled to Nashville. What started out as a weekend wedding party with my gay BFF, Jason, turned into a family reunion of sorts, complete with lots of drinking, lots of bickering, and a racist relative. When I found out this spring that I was to be invited to a super-fancy party in Nashville this summer, I jokingly told Jason that he should meet me there and be my date. I was surprised to get this response -

"Actually, that could work. My mom and Mike just moved to Nashville so they've been bugging me to come visit, and there's no way I was going to go alone."

Jason is not close to his mother, and he and his brothers all despise her third husband, Mike. Stories of this stepfather are legendary with our group of friends. Essentially, he's your run of the mill bigot, NRA member, Fox News watching, redneck - complete with a foul temper and a complete disregard for diversity and any kind of social graces.

You know - a walking nightmare.

I was psyched. The most fun party date I could possibly imagine, and a chance to get to meet this monster in person? BRING IT.

As the weekend approached, it got more complicated. Suddenly Jason's brother and sister-in-law were going to visit that weekend too (strength in numbers). Then I snagged them an invite to the party also. Then we started hatching plans for me to go undercover and actually befriend the monster, theorizing that this was the best way to ensure lots of offensive quotes that would make good stories down the road.

As the weekend approached, and previous stories began flying through cyberspace as we four comrades emailed back and forth, I actually became nervous. I wasn't sure I was going to be able to stomach some of the atrocities that came out of his mouth, much less be responsible for egging him on. Finally, the moment of truth arrived.

Jason and I sat in the hotel lobby downing free drinks while waiting for his mother and Mike to drop off Todd and Marilee. The two of them came in first, while the parental units parked the truck outside, and regaled us of stories that had been happening throughout the day. It already sounded brutal.

"Hello, Jason," his mother said in her whiny voice as the approached. I stood up, ready to be introduced.

"Mom, Mike, this is Rees." I extended my hand. His mother (who I found out later is a total Debbie Downer) reached out her hand reluctantly and gave me a half-smile, half-wince. Mike, on the other hand...

"Well, hello there!" he said, pumping my hand up and down, in a shy but pleasant voice. This was not what I expected. He stood there as everyone exchanged small talk, completely silent, except for the occasional chuckle or helpful remark.

And then I noticed it. His gaze - resting on my boobs.

And it stayed there for most of the weekend. The bigoted comments and NRA manifestos that I had been promised were nowhere to be found. Instead it was -

"Rees, how do you like the smoked ribs?"

"Rees, help yourself to anything in the fridge."

"Rees, do you need to print out your boarding pass?"

"Rees, if you ever get pulled over by a cop, and you have open liquor bottles in your car, get out and lock the car doors - then they'd have to get a search warrant to look in your vehicle." (I'm not kidding.)

Jason, Todd and Marilee watched in amazement as Mike actually succeeded in curbing the behavior that he obviously knows is offensive, and behaved like a semi-normal human being.

I mean, I knew these puppies had power, but even I was impressed with this one. I think it's safe to say that I'll be invited back to these family gettogethers - as long as I promise to wear V-necks to ensure that Mike will be on his best behavior.


Anonymous Lanahan said...

Thank God for Rees' boobs. Little does she realize they are actually keeping the terrorists at bay.

3:16 PM  

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