It’s time for us to go to my parents’ for Thanksgiving dinner. All my insecurities are magnified. Our dinners are more like roasts.
I need a drink.
We decide to stop at the pub down the street from my parents’. It’s a pretty dingy place, chances are I won’t be the most morose person in there.
The football game directly in front of me is heating up. A sport so simple in theory, but so complicated on paper. Marla nudges me, indicating it is time to leave. I order another round of Canadian Club. Hopefully the meds will take effect before we get there.
We arrive, the door swings open, anticipation has become actuality. Marla and I are greeted with hugs and kisses from my mother and father. Sneaky.
My asshole brother Ronald is not here. He is recently single and has been living his life as if he were in Frosh Week, for months. He is 34.
Time for more drinks.
As usual, all I can feel is the sting of my parents’ thoughts hurtling from their eyes.
“Why aren’t you married yet?” Their eyeballs pierce us. “When are we getting our grandchildren, or should we just give up?” Their stare demeans us.
“Shut up!” The bottle going towards my mouth responds.
“Not again.” Marla’s quivering bottom lip adds.
Ronald arrives as we are about to sit down to a beautiful spread.
“Good to see ya step-brother!” he shouts at me.
We have the same parents.
He refers to me this way because he believes I am always a step behind him, or a step shorter than him, or on the wrong step, or just not on the step he is on, which I guess is the best step.
Did I mention how much I am looking forward to this meal?
We sit down.
I look around to see if the players are ready for the big game.
Marla: glassy eyes? Check.
Mom: wine spritzers now straight wine? Check.
Ronald: teeth stained red? Check.
Father: beads of sweat dripping down his forehead? Check.
The food is disappearing from our plates, the glasses are emptied and re-filled a couple more times. Marla’s nervous storytelling turns to slurred theatrics. Ronald’s laughter turns to a cackle. Mom’s voice is speaking for her eyes. I look to father to change the momentum.
“You know boy, the key to get the girl pregnant is heavy thrusting.” he blurts. Nice Dad.
“No, that’s only if you want sons, that’s why we had these two.” Mom doesn’t miss a beat.
Out of all the family meals over the years, this is the first time I have learned my father goes deep and hard.
“Where were these great life insights growing up? Maybe we could have been spared Ronald’s heavy metal years,” I deflect.
“I never could understand that, men dressed as women, singing about getting girls,” Father quips.
I can tell Mom is about to add something, and most likely an uncomfortable comment about the homos. Yes, she says the homos.
“This is a tremendous meal Mom, thanks so much!” I shoot into the gas-and-mustard air that hovers above us. I think I stole Mother’s thunder. She prefers to be first to compliment the food, making us feel guilty and ungrateful. Marla, Ronald, and Father follow with accolades.
“You know the homos weren’t accepted in the ’80s like they are now.”
And there it is.
I race through my brain to try and figure how to fill the uncomfortable silence.
“Marla, say something.” My bleeding eyes plead.
“You know we have been trying to get pregnant.” She says nonchalantly.
I look at Marla, this time it’s not just my eyes bleeding, it is my mouth. I have put my fork directly into the roof of it. Thankfully no one notices.
“Since summer,” Marla continues. The firing squad has their ammo.
I wish my fork had been a gun.
“What’s the matter Harvey, firing blanks?” Ronald of course says in stride.
“Yeah, your Father and I took no time at all when we tried with you two,” Mom adds.
“I know, Dad was a heavy pounder!” I reply way too loudly and defensively. And not even with the correct terminology.
“So is it true Son? Are you firing blanks?” Asks Big Heavy.
Is it possible to be shell-shocked during an execution?
“No, I am not firing blanks! I am not firing anything at all!” I shoot back. “I’ve been faking my orgasms!”
I look around the room, the questions, the accusations and the laughter are all on pause. Evidently the way I practise safe sex is not the norm.
I will have a lot of explaining to do tomorrow at the press conference, hungover.
But of course I will be there. And of course I will be here next year. Who’s kidding who? I love this stuff. I love them.
It’s time to stop faking it.