02 December 2010
there was entirely too much shit talk at our thanksgiving dinner.
in memphis, there's this ancient cat. mimi. vieve's nemesis. mimi has been at death's door for awhile now and yet somehow manages to hang on, despite the fact that her inability to properly digest anything means she basically hasn't eaten in the last five years.
my father writes me letters. one or two a week. we don't talk on the phone too much so this is where the really important issues come up. when the letter of november 22nd informed me that the cat's shit had taken a turn for the better, i imagined this would be an isolated incident. that the cat's improved digestive health had now been properly documented and celebrated and we could move on.
i never imagined that upon my arrival in memphis, my mother- who is acutely squeamish towards any traces of vulgarity- would wax on about the cat's improved crap consistency while stirring cinnamon into yams.
it is a tenant of our house that we do not discuss bodily functions in front of food, so i certainly never dreamed that, during thanksgiving dinner, my grandparents and parents would engage in a prolonged discourse on the vagaries of animal waste in the presence of my gran's fudge pie.
my gran's fudge pie is a wonder. it should be eaten and enjoyed in silence. not amid excrement.
this turn of events- this sudden proclivity for talking shit- is bewildering. my mother is very particular about what is and is not allowed during dinner and there's a slew of untouchable topics that will immediately elicit a stern admonishment of we are at the table, a seemingly simple phrase carrying a whole world of genteel judgement.
in my mother's mind, the table is a sacred place. it is where we eat and hold hands when we pray. my father and i have a more liberal attitude toward the table and our impulse is to mock this attitude. for years, she has prohibited us from bursting into song, because there are things one does not do at the table. singing, for instance. or sarcasm.
shit, on the other hand, is apparently now welcome.
this topic appears to have captured the family imagination. i assume a host of colonoscopys can't be far behind.
upon their return to mississippi, my grandparents immediately evaluated the crap of their farm cats, creating a situation where no matter who you are talking to in my family, you're now guaranteed a solid 25 minutes of crap talk. suddenly, there is excrement everywhere.
this shitstorm has been in no way helped by the addition of the christmas dog, a one-year-old puppy who, like an infant, does nothing but poo.
my mother, though clearly head-over-heels for him, rants about the poo. about how she has to wake up at three to take him out. about his accidents. about how he's such a big boy and he almost made it outside but didn't quite and instead shat on the floor and that the resulting excreta was disappointingly chalky.
i am tired of hearing about this. i want to talk about something else.
i want to talk about the upcoming white nite. about how my plan to make petit fours has been derailed by the scarcity of cooling racks and candy thermometers for purchase in my city so instead there will be cupcakes, as it was probably always inevitable that there would be.
i am telling her this. i am telling her about my fears regarding white cake, a field in which i have never excelled. i am telling her about the cupcakes i am going to be baking for my friends and asking her advice on fondant when she says, that's exactly what it's like. your cupcakes. that's exactly how it looked. the poo. just like fondant. only eggier.
i am pulling the aforementioned cupcakes out of the oven as my mother likens them to disappointing dog crap. when i say, oh, shit, it is only the second time in my life that i've cursed in front of my mother.