Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Of Poker Chips and Walgreens

I got a really cool phone call tonight. My long-lost cousin's getting married in June. Congrats to him and my prayers go out to his fiance. The reason being is that my cousin had to ask me what I thought about which family members should he invite to the wedding. You see, I come from an extended family of the Mafia meets Jerry Springer meets the KGB vs CIA. War games not in the funny cute ways that "normal" familes have, but the kind you cringe on Jerry Springer thinking "Thank God We're Not Like That." Drugs, automatic weaponry, violence (both physical and mental), mixed with betrayal, anger, hurt, and general psychopathy. I mean actual guns waved in people's faces with not-empty-at-all threats included. My extended family is a dirty bomb that went off and makes the disaster of Hurricane Katrina look benign.

So when this very dysfunctional, very messed up family meets at funerals (that's all they can put up with these days), their offspring (that's us) slowly started becoming poker chips in a very serious poker game. "My son learned to read at 1 year old." "My daughter invented the wheel at that age.." Until slowly the poker chips reached adulthood. Only then the stakes were higher. Obviously, me being the oldest gave me the edge. "My daughter went to Pepperdine." That is until the other ones fell into line of good colleges and masters degrees etc etc.. whatever our successes could be bargained as, got thrown on the table of their pride/downfall.

As a poker piece, I hate it. Even as a secret part of me just dreads being the white piece (the $2 chip). It's kinda like eating one of those cakes from Ralph's with sour frosting which you eat because it's the nice thing to do (not necessarily the right thing to do as you search for a bathroom later that evening.)

So how does that relate to Walgreens? Well Walgreens is a portal to Chicago, I'm convinced. You walk in those doors and no matter where you are, you're transported to the Chicago stores I grew up around. The makeup aisle is exactly where it always is; the pharmacy in the back with its friendly workers there for 24 hours. The security guard at the front who smiles at you and is rarely white, and when white -- very fat. And when I logged in for my prescription, they had my Chicago address still in there and strangely enough, the same insurance (this time mine). Aside: My current company in California was purchased by a Chicago company who buys the insurance. Small World or God working mysteriously again. In any event, I walk through that portal and I think about my family hardcore. And yes I did shed a tear or two, but I love them. Even the messed-up ones. Even the ones addicted to drugs and violence. In some eerie way, I understand exactly what my cousin said. "Sometimes I wanna keep in touch with them; not obligated to, but kinda want to. Then I think about all the bullSh!t they create and I don't want to be a part of it, not really. But sometimes I wanna keep in touch with them."

I understand. I really do.


Blogger grumblefish said...

Sounds like Currier and Ives, running just slightly amuck ;-) What happens if you get the guest list suggestion a little wrong? Do you wake up beside Mister Ed?
Maybe you can come up with a family dialect, for use on social occasions, to get past the one upsmanship arms race.
Instead of starting sentences with "You know, Junior's on the short list of Supreme Court candidates...", or, "Sis finally did cure the common cold...", other substitutes could be found to express the personal joy of reunion. My
oldest sister and I had a bumpy relationship as kids. We get along fine
now- amazing how a few hundred miles of
geography placates even the most frayed

9/02/2005 5:11 AM  
Blogger grumblefish said...

Takes it out of you, doesn't it? Here you go...that's it... back in the saddle!

9/10/2005 12:00 AM  
Blogger JadedTLC said...

*nods, thankyouverymuch

I think I'm going to be writing more tonight. I can't believe I actually purchased tickets to London. My first European vacation minus the Griswolds!

9/12/2005 12:19 PM  

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