My cousin Elaine is a lesbian and proud of it. Unfortunately, early in life she developed enormous, enormous boobs which she finally, in her 50’s, had cut down to a manageable size. She loved those bosoms, then. Whenever someone would comment on the change, she would lift her shirt and show off the now bra-less, orange-sized, smartly saluting breasts.
She has gotten over that, now, I think.

Today, she calls me from my mother’s house.
“Venus! Come on over! I’m in town and I’m here with your mom and your sister Barbara. I brought a nice bottle of red wine.”

I’m over at my mom’s in a green flash.

“I hope this wine won’t give me gas,” is my greeting to Elaine.

“I’ve finally realized that some wine gives me great, robust gas but I haven’t figured out which kinds do it.”

I inspect Elaine’s bottle of red.

“Oh, what the heck,” I say, “open it up. We’ll find out if this is one of those.

Elaine tells me she is here from Utah on a fun trip. She’s not looking for work as a counselor in Hollywood to the Rich and Famous, as she was a few weeks ago when she came to California. She is now in training to be a nurse. She is 60 years old and it is never to late to jump into a new career.
I quite agree with her.

My sister Barbara is at this moment, working on mother’s bills. She is in Charge of Mother’s Finances.
As you know, all of Mother’s Children have ‘Mother Jobs’.

All except the two boys, Jim and Arthur. We are discussing this as Barbara pounds away at mother’s checkbook, her forehead rolled up into her hairline.

“Why is it,” Elaine asks, “that all you girls have Mother Jobs and the boys don’t have any?”

“I gave the boys the job of keeping Mother’s car washed and in working order,” I say.

We all look at each other and say, “Yeah…right.”

At this moment, Mom’s car is not working. It won’t start and we don’t know why.

Mom tells us that our sister Candy looked under the hood yesterday and a brown field rabbit with a lovely white tail hopped out and bounded off into the fields.

Barbara says something about how the boys should be handling this one. That we can’t do everything and that I should call the boys and explain the car situation.

“Right,” I say, “and you know that they are both ‘working all the time’ and somehow can’t keep up with car-washing and car monitoring.
As if we don’t work,” I add.

Elaine says, “what’s wrong with them?”

And Barbara says “Why can’t they be more responsible? We girls are always helping Mother.”

A lot of excuses for, and possible reasons for the boys dereliction are tossed back and forth when Mother stops us and says, “Oh, they’re just incompetent. I love them but they are incompetent.”

Well, that says it.

Barbara has her head in the computer, then her head again in Mother’s checkbook.
She looks up to say, “My birthday is next week. I’ll be (aaarrrgh) 58.”

We all nod.

“It’s Sunday,” she says. “I’ll be up to visit Mother on Sunday. Maybe we should celebrate my birthday?”

We think that is a fine idea.

“So, will I have to make my own cake?” she asks.

Apparently so as no one volunteers.

“I like chocolate,” Barbara says. “I can go to Henry’s Organic Store and get a good organic chocolate cake mix.”

We think that is a fine idea.

“So, I’ll have to make my own cake then?” Barbara says, again.

I’m thinking, ‘well, I’m not much for making cakes. In fact, maybe Barbara has forgotten but I have a long and bad reputation in this family as a cook. Sometimes I make superlative and amazing meals but there have been a number of absolute dooziers.
But, hey, maybe I could make a decent cake and surprise Barbara, but then we would have TWO chocolate cakes and we would have to eat them both.’ You know we would.

Finally, Barbara joins the three of us at the table. Elaine, Mother and I are lifting our glasses of red wine, toasting each other and generally having a fine time.

Barbara says, “I have to leave now.”

I say, “Why?! I haven’t even seen you!”

“Because,” Barbara says, “you three are drinking.”


We all look at her like, ‘so?’

“I don’t want to drink and it’s no fun to sit with drinkers.”

But,” we’re not drunk,” Elaine says reasonably. “We’ve each had half a glass.”

Barbara kind of smirks at us and I want to punch her.

She is a beautiful, sensual woman. She looks like Susan Sarandan. And, she is a lovely and good person but she is what I think of as rigid in her thinking. I always have to be careful when I am having fun with her because she often doesn’t ‘get’ what I am saying or laughing about. She takes offense.
She has told me she didn’t like me when we were kids; that she didn’t like me until about fifteen years ago when, while working as a corporate trainer, I took her to Mexico with me, as my interpreter.

“Wine is good for you, don’t you know?” I say. “A glass or two of red wine a day keeps a person healthy. “They say so.

“Well,” Barbara says, “They also say if you don’t drink don’t start.”

“What sense is that?” I point out. “They say red wine is good for your health and that people who drink some alcohol live longer then those who don’t drink at all. So, why would they then say, ‘if you don’t drink, don’t start?’

“And dark chocolate is now good for us, too,” adds Elaine. “Now, we have to drink wine and eat dark chocolate. I think the world is becoming less primitive at last.”

That reminds me. “Mom,” I ask, “where is that box of dark chocolates I just gave you?”

Mom looks embarrassed. “I ate them all,” she says.

“That’s good Mom,” I say, “you just saved me from eating them and you have added to your life span.”

Barbara sighs and leaves.

As soon as she is out the door I remark on Barbara’s attitude about life to Mom and Elaine.

Mom says she knows that many men must have been and are, attracted to Barbara, but are held at bay by her aloofness. And, she probably doesn’t even know she’s doing it.

I say, “I can see her happy. I think somehow she got all locked up inside and there’s a magic key that will unlock the castle door and set her free. I think the eventual right man for her will have to have a lot of self-confidence and will push through whatever her barrier is. I hope he comes, soon. He’s been tarrying way too long.”

Barbara has a husband, but they have been separated for a number of years. She has two handsome and intelligent grown children. It’s not that I think women need a man to be happy. I just think a man and happiness will be Barbara’s future.

Now, everybody sighs and Elaine pours us another glass of wine.

My mother says, “I wonder….”

There’s a silence. Elaine and I wait…

My mother dips her head and frowns a bit. Then she lifts her head, looks at us and says with a lot of puzzlement,

…What am I wondering?….”

We get hysterical. Maybe Barbara is right. Maybe we are three drunks drinking, and we aren’t any fun for someone who is sober?

I guess life and situations are all in how you see it.

We three clank our glasses together and agree that Mom should go and take her nap.
Ummm. Maybe Mom has some chocolates around here that she has forgotten about….?

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