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In Which My Relatives Came to Visit

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Do you like having to entertain out of town visitors? Me neither. Especially when it's (insert music that indicates impending doom) family. After a long week of work-related travel, I had caught the 2 o'clock broom so I could come home and do what everybody has to do in anticipation of the arrival of blood relatives. I attempted to legally change my name. And then I looked for a doctor who hasn't prescribed medication to Michael Jackson to get myself some Xanax. Then I stowed my carry on, returned my seat and tray table both to their upright and locked position, and raced home to hide the liquor, paint swatches and jewelry. Worst of all, I had to clean the house. Buying another one was completely out of the question on such short notice, even though it might have cost me less time and money. My cleaning lady immediately moved to Guatemala in search of opportunity and riches. She purchased a nice oceanfront condo with what she had earned cleaning up after me.

I will be the first to admit that I am not the world's greatest hostess. When I am home alone, I like to parade around naked with the blinds open just to scare the gardener. I laugh at laundry and parking tickets of which I have equal piles of both. Sometimes I do both these things at the same time while calling the DJ at the local radio station to ask him if he will play "The Monster Mash" for me again. All that had to come to a stop like my car did when I slid into third base at the Avis parking lot not too long ago. No sense of humor those rental car agencies. I had to pay for pony rides for everybody.

Because I grew up in an uber-hygienic, hermetically sealed household, I took it upon myself to take the alternative route when it comes to keeping house. Personally, I find dog hair slippers to be very comfortable and wish that others would too. My neighbors realized fairly quickly that I'm not the person they want coming to the block party when I knocked on their doors with a big PVC pipe and invited them over to do lines of dust that were as long as my living room. I hate block parties. Not as much as I hate cleaning or entertaining family, but I would put them in the same category as squeezing a fart out of somebody else's rear end to relieve someone's suffering. I'm just not that compassionate.

Back to my immediate problems. I regret that I had to use china for these last few days. I see absolutely nothing wrong with those Lean Cuisine trays. It helps with portion control. I have just enough of them so that I can sometimes make myself a lovely dinner for eight if I'm really hungry. WhenI use only one or two of them, I eat less. If I use the china, I have to worry about whether or not my brother and his wife are going to the Pack and Ship store while I'm pretending to be out at a meeting. Anything so I don't have to listen to them talk nonstop and really loudly about the Rumba.

It's all well and good when the relatives first arrive. Like normal families, we exchange hugs, kisses, macaroons and stock tips. I hate macaroons. They just love to see me lose money like contact lenses. I love to watch my brother lose his hearing. Did I tell you that my brother plays bingo and is a financial planner? I must have told someone else.

About 20 minutes into a seven-day visit, I start looking at my watch. Within an hour, there is sure to be some sort of misunderstanding like whose turn it is to flush the toilet or if we are really related. Half a day into it, we are barely speaking. It's just like being married accept that we don't get invited to go on gay cruises. Do you remember "Mystery Date"? My brother is the dud. His wife owes personality payments to some "family" in New Jersey. When she gets a little behind is usually when she and my brother decide to come for a visit.

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You are probably asking yourself a couple of questions right about now. The first is, "where does this woman buy her nail polish remover?" The other is, "what was the last number they called in bingo?" The correct answer to both of these questions is that there is a "7" in both of them. You are probably wondering too, what we are going to do after we have exhausted all the pleasantries, plotted to overthrow those four guys on Mt. Rushmore and planned how to divide my father's collection of his photos with famous people after he dies. Who knows? We still have two more days to put up with each other, but who's counting?

That would be me.

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Patricia A. Smith is a writer and artist (and sometimes both at the same time). A former columnist, restaurant critic and cruise line executive, Smith has lived in London, Greece, Denmark, Hungary, Egypt, Costa Rica and France. She returned (more...)
 

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