Sunday, November 13, 2005

Ah, family.

Some relatives were in town this weekend, a few of which I don't see very regularly. And every time I do, I'm reminded of why. There is this real passive-aggressive streak in my family - my siblings and I are very conscious of it and hopefully that awareness stops us from the repeating the older generation's patterns.

1. Small children are among the visitors, and so we choose a holiday-themed play at a children's theater. I buy the tickets, after everyone agrees to go. Passive-Aggressive #1 tells me it sound wonderful, then later bitches to P-A #2 about how long it's going to take to get there. They take a bus because they say a cab would be $20, even though each children's theater ticket is probably $50 cheaper than if we'd gone with their choice - a Broadway musical.

2. We are arriving from three different starting points, so plan to meet 30 minutes before show time at the theater. At 5 minutes before showtime, P-A #1 & #2 are still not there. We take our seats and hold two extra, but they don't arrive until about halfway through the performance.

3. We all agree to eat in nearby Chinatown after, although I warn that because it's a relatively nice Saturday afternoon, the area will be very crowded. After maneuvering the jam-packed sidewalks, (with one toddler in stroller, the other walking, plus an elderly relative moving slowly) we stumble upon a restaurant and all agree to go in without trying to find the perfect place. We have to wait for a table for a few minutes, and P-A #1 complains that it's noisy and crowded, so I suggest we leave and keep looking. No, no, she insists, let's just stay here.

4. P-A #2's favorite dish is not on the menu. She asks the waiter for it, and he says, no, they don't carry that particular item. She makes a face. After she's ordered and the next person's order is giving his order, she says loudly that she can't believe that they don't offer it. It's just so delicious at her neighborhood Chinese restaurant.

5. P-A #1's meal arrives, and it's made with a slightly different assortment of vegetables than she gets at that same neighborhood place. Someone asks her if she'd rather order something else. No, no, she says. She eats it, but not without regular comments on how much better her regular place is.

6. She offers a few cashew nuts from her entree to the child sitting next to her, who winds up not liking them and leaving them on her plate. P-A #1 asks her if she's going to eat them, and when the child shakes her head, says that she's taking them back, then.

7. We agree to head to the hotel where the visitors are staying for dessert. P-A #1 wants to try to find a bus, while #2 wants to find a taxi. I point out that with 4 adults, a taxi isn't really that much expensive more than the bus, where each pays an individual fare. Plus, nobody has enough change for the coin slot on the bus (why don't NYC buses take dollar bills? but that's another ramble), and we have a bulky stroller that would fit better in the trunk of a taxi. Everyone's tired, and we'd have to walk further to the correct bus route, whereas taxis are (almost) everywhere, including where we are standing. We agree to get a taxi, but naturally every one that passes us for the next five minutes is either off duty or has passengers. P-A #1 says she'll take a bus and meet us there, but when nobody begs her to stay with us, she does nothing but stand and look annoyed.

8. Eventually, a cab pulls up. I'm not going back to the hotel with them, so I say my goodbyes while the stroller & kids are being loaded into the taxi. P-A #2 remembers I paid for the tickets, but I tell her not to worry about it, it's my treat. She keeps trying to give me cash, but I tell her to use it for the cab. It's my own moment of passive-agression, but of course, she won't let me wallow in it, because it's her day to be the martyr, and she shoves $15 in my hand as she jumps in the back seat. On the way home I use it to buy colored markers and Newman-O's and breath mints and a magazine I don't need, because something twisted in me wants to be as frivolous as possible with it.

The best part: at the restaurant, P-A #1 told the waiter, "I'd like a Happy Family." We of course made it into a joke, grinning at her, all "Is this happy enough?" But on some level, she probably meant it literally. The saddest part: she doesn't realize how her own behavior makes it difficult to spend time with her. You can't guilt-trip people into wanting to be with you, when it's your guilt-trips that make people not enjoy being with you.


Post a Comment

<< Home

ring logo
Writing Desk Webring

Join | List | Random
Previous | Next
Powered by RingSurf
Locations of visitors to this page