Friday, February 23, 2007

The Aunt Jenny Award

Aunt Jenny is one of my dad's sisters. She is a very kind, sweet person in so many ways. In fact, she and my mom were friends before my mom met my dad. Aunt Jenny was mom's matron of honor back in 1945. She's a powerful force, still alive (in her early 90s) and only a few years ago could still be found doing work around her home (such as scraping the paint off the garage in preparation for painting it).

But every now and then she will open her mouth and say the rudest, most tactless things!

Example 1:
It's June 1996. We're all gathering together on the eve of my youngest sister's wedding. My beautiful sister Mary — who even today in her 50s could wear a bikini and still get wolf whistles; who looks great even if she's dirty and rumpled from cleaning the garage; who is fun to be around because she has such a pleasant attitude — my beautiful sister Mary opened the front door to welcome Aunt Jenny and was greeted by this aunt with, "Oh, Mary! You always used to look so pretty and dress so nice!" Believe me, Aunt Jenny had a smile on her face when she said this. I'm sure she meant something like, "Don't you look wonderful, just as I always remember!" but it certainly didn't come out that way.

Example 2:
It's August 1997. We're at my nephew David's wedding. Aunt Jenny (his great-aunt) has come for the wedding and she's sitting with all of us in the front part of the church prior to the ceremony starting. She's looking around at the bridesmaids, the bride's mother, and the bride herself. Most people would remark on how happy everyone seemed to be and how lovely everyone looked, etc. Aunt Jenny observed, "I've never seen so many fat people at a wedding in all my life!"

So, every now and then, someone in our family wins the "Aunt Jenny Award." Last night the (un)lucky recipient was my mother-in-law, Anne. We (me, my husband, and Anne) were in the car and going to dinner (for Anne's 85th birthday). Anne was in the back seat; Ed and I were in front; I was driving. I mention our relative positions because you have to understand that there was no way she could have presumed that her son was NOT in the vehicle with us. Nonetheless, she began talking as though he wasn't there. She said, "Remember when he was exercising a lot? It was when he went through all that trouble. He looked so good. I was so proud of him. Well, that didn't last!"

I looked over at my husband and we shared a smirk. My retort was, "I don't know what you mean — I think he's magnificent!"

You have to understand: My MIL will go on about nearly anything and it won't make a lot of sense. For example, she saw a sign for the Sylvan Learning Center and that triggered her telling us a story of a nun who didn't have a proper teaching degree who was hired to tutor a young woman with a learning disability. This was about 60 years ago. My MIL was going on and on about how private tutoring doesn't help because the student becomes dependent upon the tutor and will regress once the tutor is gone. She has no basis for that opinion other than this one instance, so of course she back-pedaled when I said I knew people who'd brought their daughter to one of these centers and their daughter learned many skills that helped her after she was done with the program.

Well, if she wants to keep up the various and sundry dramas of her life, I think she deserves an award. :)

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