Black Stereotypes and Thanksgiving

It always starts at my parent's house in Indiana. I wake up halfway into the afternoon and come out of the room I haven't slept in for months. My mother is the only one in full gear. I catch small glimpses  of her nightgowned figure as she sweeps about the house cleaning and collecting clothes simultaneously for the younger of us. If the older sister, Heidi is home, she's still on the couch either sleep in a perfect model-like position or still under the covers chatting with one of her old friends from the city on her cell. She doesn't even begin to get ready until the rest of us are up and dressed; the boys, Jeremy and Jaylon in matching turtle necks and slacks and the baby girl, Brycie in a poofy dress with tights that she wants to tear off. I usually go through five outfits before I find anything that will even make a good attempt at upstaging Heidi. I always lose this battle of course, being that she spends her rent money on silk Prada dresses and knows the perfect way in which to paint on her eye shadow (as if she needs it anyway) and lay her manageable, curly tendrils. I always end up looking second best, but sometimes this is enough for me, and sometimes she'll even help me with my own makeup and we'll pose infront of the mirror together and take crappy cell phone pictures so that she can show her friends that her family is an attractive bunch. But never more attractive than she of course. 
    My mother is always the second to last to get ready. Once the children are done she takes what she calls a "bird bath" to save the rest of us time, though we've been late for the family dinner since we woke up. My step-father is always the last to walk out the door. He's like Heidi. He's been getting ready the entire time, though: brushing his jet black curls down with palmade and water and ironing his tight turtle-neck, and pleating his pants. But he takes an ample amount of time  to put these clothes on, allowing himself a stroll around the house while checking window locks and flicking on particular room lights.  the rest of us hurry to pack the car with the food that it was our turn to make (we always bring the deviled eggs, baked maccaroni and cheese, and sweet potatoes). 
    It never fails; Mom always begs her husband to exit the house and join us in the car. We all roll our eyes. Heidi is the only one he ever apologizes to. 
    The car ride is usually pleasant. My step father always drives with the windows cracked down a milimeter even though it's usually 30 degrees or lower that time of year. And even though we all hate it, we deal because we're tired of hearing my mom explain that men have just got a heat system built right into them. When Heidi's there she leans into the space between the front seats and comments on how cold it is. Then he rolls the window up.
We listen to old school cuts on the either V103 or WGCI. All of us sing along to RKelly and Marvin Gaye and Al Green, and Al B. Sure, and the Whispers, dancing with our upper bodies and moving my little sister's arms so she can catch the spirit as well. Blues is a religion in this family. Music period is. My step father and his brothers made a band when they were teenagers. He was fluent in guitar, drums, and vocal. Like a true drummer, he was always thumping his fingers against the car window seal to the beat of the music, and singing along in a high pitched, funk voice that whistled through the small gap between his two front teeth. 
    Needless to say, we're always the last ones to show up. Now the location of the big Thanksgiving family dinner is different every time. Sometimes it's in Mandalia, Michigan at my Aunt Sarah's. I have only great aunts, by the way. Once, it was at my grandmother's house in the city on the south side. The place we used to convene had been at my crazy Auntie Sharon's. The new favorite was her daughter, Michelle's place in the south suburbs. It was set up conveniently, with a kitchen sitting all by itself on one level, a formal living room to the side on the second level, and the first basement slash den where she moved back the leather couches and replaced them with two long metal tables covered with Autumn style table cloth. Michelle was always the family caterer. The second basement was usually where the younger children were sent to play ping pong and watch Disney movies until the meal started. 
    My Auntie Sharon is almost always the center of attention. She's big breasted with a bold sense of humor; throwing gutteral jokes at all of us, and keeping us dancing with her ready-made  mix cds and wide swinging hips. Her and my grandmother are ace boon coons. The sister's do everything together, down to hitting the casinos on the Indiana-Illinois borderline and going out dancing. They'd even lived together with their children when they got divorced. From an objective point of view, you could tell this from the way all of my older cousins and my mother mix so easily. 
    I can't say that it is ever unlively. In this crowd, my sister, Heidi's light seems to dimmer. Most times she takes a nap until its time to leave and go to her dad's family's house and this is where she thrives. 
    My step father's family is from Arkansas and now all live in a close knit society in another Southside Suburb. Thanksgiving dinner is always at my Aunt Genie's. She has the largest house in the bunch, which is really a mansion. Instead of a basement she has a tower that spirals down into an apartment-like downstairs equipped with a couch lenghthed fireplace, full bar, work out room, two guest rooms and the play room where all the little children play hide and seek in the dark and pelt eachother with nerd balls. 
    The young adults usually hole up in Aunt Genie's son, Nicholas's room and play video games on his plasma screen. This is where all of the intellectual talks usually begin. This side of the family likes to think of themselves as learned and level headed. Every one of them have attended an ivy league university. Aunt Genie finished her PH at Northwestern and owns a dentistry while her husband, Mike is a contractor. I have a good time here, they are full of political jokes and talks about literature, which fits me perhaps more snugly than encores of Spades. But I can't help but wish I was still with my mother's family. Their degrees don't flaunt. 
     As I sit there, chewing on Aunt Genie's stale duck and trying to stomach the german chocolate cakes they always make. I imagine my Aunts strewn out together in Michelle's livingroom, drinking wine coolers and talking about their silly husbands, while the men sit out on the patio with the speaker system low, arguing over how hot this and that actress is over a couple beers.
 The digression of my mind goes unnoticed here, and the clever banter continues quite unnaffectedly. I have no place in this infrastructure because there is no infrastructure. These are people, who show up somtimes, call who they want to, and leave as late or as early as their schedule allows. Broken promises do not exist because promises do not exist.
Heidi is pretending to be alive now, smiling almost maniacally. I have a feeling she would be more comfortable with my mother's family as well, but would be embarrassed of the fact. 

people are so funny.
He shows up bearded, suited, and wearing a tangerine complexioned hat and steals girls' sleep. She complies. And then he flicks a joke at her nudging at the fact that he just fucked her out of a seat, and she laughs and complies again. Then he makes a sexual joke....again-redundantly she giggles. No way could he get away with this if he were straight. 

Michele   Michele wrote
on 11/6/2009 10:36:10 PM
This is excellent--I've enjoyed all you've posted so far--never mind the 'ratings slasher'--his repertoire is limited to axe/shotgun murders of women.

Short Story
writing dsr
One tear in a bucket, fuck it.
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I was sitting in my comp class with my racist professor talking about how black families interact with eachother on Thanksgiving and decided to write this...