Tuesday, August 12, 2008

It'll Have to Do

This Sunday was the annual family reunion. It was going to be a good day. There was going to be good food and new babies (and let's not lie--this one's the cutest) and the traditional mocking of absent relatives. But that wasn't all. In fact, after the family reunion, I was driving back to my father's house, parking the car, walking next door, and putting a kitten into a carrying case so I could take her home to be my own.

But none of that could happen until we got through the reunion. After dinner--hot dogs, corn, a bevy of pasta and fruit salads--my grandmother stood up, clanged an empty pop can on the back of a clipboard, and tried to raise her voice over the din.

"EXCUSE ME!" she said.

No one excused her.

"EXCUSE ME!" she tried again--this time with more success. People stopped chatting and turned to face her. They knew what was coming: the Annual Revelation of Good News.

The Annual Revelation of Good News hasn't always been good to me. For example, the year I graduated from grad school--something I thought was a pretty impressive feat--my grandmother forgot to mention it. She ran through the list she'd marked up of everyone else's good news--marriages, births, other grandkids' graduations--and then she said, "Anything I missed?"

I blinked. My family blinked. Finally, my father said, "Uhm, Mom? Jess graduated."

"Oh," my grandmother said, and she bent to write it down on her list. That was it.

Since then, nothing terribly important (birth or marriage) has happened that would wrangle me a spot on the Annual Revelation of Good News. This year looked like it was going to be no exception. Grandma listed a slew of babies and a few marriages, and that was that. When she finished her list, she bent over to grin at me. "What about you, Jessie?" she said. "Any engagements for me to write down?"

"No," I said.

"Any other good news?" my grandmother asked.

"She's adopting a kitten," one of my cousins offered. "She's getting a cat named Abbey."

And my grandmother--perhaps figuring that's as good as she's going to get from her possibly lesbian granddaughter with the "boyfriend" who was busy behind the line of his restaurant and thus suspiciously absent from the family reunion--smiled and started writing that down in the Annual Revelation of Good News's notebook. When she finished, she turned the paper toward us as proof. There, underneath the list of other happy occasions--weddings, anniversaries, births--was this entry: August 2008. Jessie adopts a cat named Abbie.

And that was good enough for me.

After all, a few hours later, I would open up a carrying case and let a pink-nosed cat named Abbey scamper out onto the floor:


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