Tuesday, March 23, 2010

And Now a Story that Involves Wine, Vomit, and My Brother

Let me brief and honest: My last full day of spring break was not awesome.

At first it seemed promising. It went a little something like this: Broadway Market for pierogi and placek and rye bread and pounds of sponge candy, and then the whole world fell off its axis and went spinning off into space.

There was some family drama, and after that family drama unfolded my mother was left teary-eyed and demanding to know where we'd put the fucking wine. She went into the bathroom to cry for a little bit, and I stood in the kitchen with forty dollars of Chinese food still sitting untouched and pristine in its take out containers. My mother was upset and crying in her bathroom, and I was trying to yank a stuck cork from a stubborn bottle of wine.

This called for reinforcements.


It's not that I needed help with the cork--eventually I bashed that thing out of the neck of the wine and poured two glasses (a giant one for my mother, a small one for me)--but it was that I needed help with the drama. I am not very good at handling my mother's sadness. It's true. I've handled it poorly all my life--especially after my parents' divorce. Back then, I adopted the attitude that it was her own fault, she'd made her choice, now she had to live with it. Sometimes I looked at my mother and thought SUCK IT UP.

On my last full day of spring break, though, I was not thinking SUCK IT UP; I was thinking THERE IS NOTHING IN THE WORLD I CAN DO TO MAKE MY MOTHER FEEL LESS SHITTY RIGHT NOW. I knew I would eventually need help and that I wouldn't be able to be a clown for long enough to make her forget her problems.

Thus the text to my brother.

He arrived three hours into my crisis control--which, it should be noted, is not very smooth or sophisticated. If anyone is ever hurt or sad, this is what I will do to try to soothe them: I will park it on the couch, mix a drink or pour some wine, and I will pat a knee or a shoulder or a head until it seems lame to continue to do so, and then I will mix another drink or pour some more wine, and then I will say something stupid and silly and inappropriate in hopes that the person I am getting drunk will laugh and forget, for just a second, whatever is making them sad.

But the family drama on this particular Saturday had made me sad, too, and I needed someone to come refresh me, too. If we were going to make it through this, we all needed to be at our best. And that was where Adam came in.

"So," he said, after arriving and sitting himself in front of me and my mother, "how drunk are you? I saw the two wine bottles on the counter."

"I'm not drunk," my mother said.

That was a lie.

"She's pretty drunk," I said.

"How much did she drink?" Adam asked.

"Well, I only had one glass," I said.

He raised his eyebrows. "Oh."

"I'm not that drunk," my mother said.

"Are you going to puke?" my brother said. He wrinkled his nose, thinking about the possibility. "What I'm saying is I don't really want to wake up in the middle of the night to hear you barfing into the toilet. It is right next to my room, you know."

"Adam," I said, "shut up. She can puke if she wants to puke. She's a grown woman."

"I don't want to hear it!" he said. "That's gross!"

"Oh, like you've never done it," my mother said.

My brother grinned and sat back in the chair. He cracked his knuckles and surveyed the floor of the living room. "Oh, I've done it before," he said.

"I know," my mother said. "You've had parties. You've had them here!"

"It's true."

"Gross," I said.

"Whatever," he said. "Have I ever told you two the story about the rug?"

"What rug?" my mother asked.

"The rug that is missing from this room."

"There's a rug missing from this room?" my mother asked.

"Yes. For, like, years."

"Liar!" she said. "There's no rug missing."

"Mother," Adam said, "do you mean to tell me you've never noticed that one of your runners is missing from the living room?"

She took a long sip from her wine.

"I puked on it," my brother said. "I was having a party, and the boys were here, and we were drinking, and I'd had a lot, and I couldn't make it to the bathroom, so I just leaned forward, opened my mouth, and vomited out a neat little pile of puke. RIGHT. ONTO. THE. RUNNER."

"You are vile," I said.

My mother started giggling.

"We were too drunk to do much of anything about it," my brother said, "so I told the boys to just leave it, and we'd worry about it the next morning."

"OH MY GOD!" I said. "You left puke sit over night!"

"I was trashed, Jess," my brother said. "What did you think I was going to do?"

My mother giggled harder. "What did you do with it?" she asked.

"In the morning, I rolled the rug up, put it in a bag, and we put it in the car and took it to the car wash."

"Holy shit," I said. "You took a puked-on runner to the CAR WASH?"

"Listen," he said, "it was a good idea. You know how they have the clips for the car mats? Well, I took the rug out of the bag, clipped it up, and then blasted the shit out of it."

"You sprayed vomit with a pressure washer," I said. "That's smart. Vomit everywhere!"

My brother nodded. "Yes," he said. "But it got clean, okay? And I rolled it up and put it back in the bag--"

"The puke bag?!" I asked.

He glared.

"Fine," I said. "Continue."

"I put it back in the bag, and I took it home, dragged it into the garage, and then I forgot about it," he said. "A few days later I was out there, and I realized I'd forgotten the rug. And there it was, in a dark corner, and the bag was really condensated. So I knew there were really only two possibilities now: That I'd open that bag, and I would find the rug all moldy and disgusting; or, alternatively, I'd open the bag and smell the worst old vomit smell that ever existed. So I just took that bag and threw it into the garbage can and buried it."

"My rug!" my mother said.

"You're disgusting," I said. "You threw out MOM'S RUG."

But my mother was laughing and spilling her wine and mopping it up and laughing some more. She was denying that there was a rug missing. She was saying she'd never noticed its absence. She was saying it wasn't true.

And what she wasn't saying was everything else that was in her mind at that moment--all the bad stuff--and at that moment, for that reason, I loved my brother very, very much.


Kristin said...

That is awesome! The best part, besides your brother making your mom laugh when she was sad, is the fact that your mom NEVER noticed it was missing. How freaking sweet. I love it.

Jess said...

I thought this might appeal to you, Schai-Kingbay!

Jason said...

I appreciate the healing power of drunkenness stories--both for your mother's sake and for yours. It's no secret I've made use of them.