Monday, July 7, 2008

Fireworks & Dirty Laundry Make Strange Bedfellows

Independence Day is a time for family, fun, grilled food and nostalgia all while feeling intense pride in your country. However, what Fourth of July celebration could be considered complete without fireworks? Ah, yes, the hallmark of Independence Day. The fiery reds, the cool blues, the intense yellows, the shouting, the shoving, the name calling, the golden tension. Once again, the true cornerstone of every Fourth of July.

Those of you that are of African-American descent know that there is a rule in our community regarding airing "dirty laundry" out to dry in the public breeze. For those of you that didn't know that, well, now you know. So I'm about to violate that law and tell it like it is.

I awoke looking forward to the Fourth of July with extreme anticipation and excitement as I do every year. I cracked open my Bud Light (with lime) and after a quick trip to my un-official job, I started the grill with my father and brother (aka Rugrat). As the grill heated up, so did the tension in the kitchen. I had just invited The Divo over and came downstairs to find my mother crying. I tried to find out what had happened and after prying a few words from in between the sobs, discovered my brother had "told her off." Well, I wasn't about to let that stand and summoned Rugrat inside. Big mistake.

Instantly the fireworks began. Since there's no need to get into the specifics, needless to say he was frustrated regarding his job situation and my mom had nagged him one too many times over the age old issue of money. He continued on about her failings and he actually made some valid points without actually being disrespectful. But as always, my mom is more stubborn than a mule. Way more stubborn! That's probably where I get it from.

She didn't back down and called him "ungrateful" as well as some other choice words. I sat by in my ringside seat and just watched knowing that anything I said would not help the situation. They needed to handle this without me. Eventually it came to the phrase of "if you don't like it get the f--- outta here!" and of course Rugrat did just that. He stormed upstairs after a quick blow to the dog and packed his bag and stormed out of the house.

I eventually confronted my mom and after a little bit of pleading, identified the source of many of her problems. Her best friend (my aunt) had passed away back in December rather suddenly after a long illness. My mom does not have many female friends that she trusts and a lot of her frustration does not have a release valve. Hence the buildup of tension and stress. She also stated how much she appreciated my brother and I for dealing with her. So with that end somewhat patched, I called Rugrat.

He isn't as easy to calm down once he's pissed. He's a "react first, reflect later" type of guy. And since he's a big guy, it's not a good idea to get him pissed. However, we have a tight brotherly relationship so I prayed that I'd be able to coax him back to the house. He refused, saying he was staying at a friends house for a few days and I told him I was here for him. "If you need a ride back or want to talk, just give me a call."

A few hours passed and I took out my frustration on the lawn (really BAD mowing job!) and then finished grilling with my dad (who had stayed out of it). Eventually The Divo arrived and he was an angel in disguise. By having him there, it eased the tension and my mom calmed down and laughed and sort of forgot her problems. Soon, my brother walked back in the yard, much calmer and everything proceeded as though nothing had happened. By the time the sun went down, my brother, his girlfriend, The Divo, my mom and I were all sitting on the back deck laughing about ghetto baby names and talking about the (real) fireworks. Furthermore, my brother and mother talked later that night after I went to bed and I guess they straightened everything out.

In the end, I was very thankful that the The Divo showed up and salvaged what was left of my holiday. I browsed through his photo album which included pictures from his trips to D.C. and China as well as a cruise to the Bahamas with his boyfriend. He also brought me two gifts: a miniature replica of a terracotta warrior and Nini, one of the good luck dolls and mascots for the 2008 Summer Olympics.

Overall, I had a good holiday but I kind of knew that this was going to happen. My family and I have an annual cookout that we host every year and the date is drawing nearer (July 19th). There is a lot of yard work and housework to be done and my father isn't well. Money is tight and I haven't had an opportunity to contribute to the workload because of school and work. It was disappointing that the tension climaxed on that day but in a way, I'm thankful it did. Maybe now with all that off the family's chest, we can move forward and make the 4th Annual "C's & J's" Cookout an event like no other ...

1 comment:

YoungBlack&DL said...

Maybe I should learn something from getting things off my chest, but when I let go, it isn't that nice when calm down and talk about ghetto names type of ending. Its that we don't talk for months type of deal.

Huh, but it makes you think.