Christmas Eve

The drive to Olympia (where Mr. Husband’s aunt and uncle live, people I would contend are the only sane members of the family) is usually mercifully short–an hour tops. You leave Seattle, get to see a gob of pine trees, play “who would you rather sleep with?” for a while, and then BAM you’re there. Good stuff.

Not on Xmas Eve, however. The drive was a two-and-a-half hour extravaganza of festive brake lights and jolly middle fingers. The rain blatted down onto the windshield, causing me to fret about my poor wet chickens, who would not get their coop door closed against this mess, and my leather yard clogs which I had forgotten on the back porch again.

Needless to say, things got a little weird in the car. The subject of Mr. Husband’s family came up in regards to the Santa picture question.

“Why don’t you just check with me first, in regards to your sister’s ideas,” I said, trying desperately to sound casual.

“I don’t know what your deal with my sister is. You two always get so tense.”

“Well,” I said. This is the point at which I usually just give a feeble “well” or “aherm” or change the subject entirely. Not today though. I blame the feelings of car-claustrophobia that happen after an hour of gridlock.

“Well,” I said again. “I just don’t like your sister.” Crap. I can’t believe after seven years of biting my tongue I just blurted that out in the car.

He was quiet for a moment.

“You don’t like my sister?”

“No, and she doesn’t like me either. It’s pretty obvious, honey, and it’s been going on for years.”

“I like your sister,” he said, as if this was any sort of valid argument whatsoever.

But my sister is nice, I thought. This time, I didn’t say anything.

We got there and we were pretty wasted from the drive and the discussion (except for Frannie, who slept the whole way). Mr. Husband’s sister was all ready there, having left earlier with their parents. I grabbed the first glass of wine I saw, and some how got caught up in a discussion about where Frannie would attend preschool. We are looking into a school that is run by one of Mr. Husband’s childhood friends, and a few other private schools.

“What’s wrong with public schools?” asked The Sister, a public school teacher.

I thought for a minute, took a breath. My first instinct in any situation like this is to formulate a polite answer and change the subject. Did I have to do that anymore? Wasn’t our mutual hatred practically out in the open now, now that Mr. Husband knew what everyone else had for forever?

“Really? The real reason?” She nodded her head. “Riff-raff, overcrowding, and underfunding. You know, the typical stuff.”

“Riff-raff,” she repeated. She didn’t say anything else to me, and got up a short time later and walked away.

She was ready for me to give her a stupid opinion so I gave her one. She is such an emotional person that she’s never taken complex, subtle arguments well when she thinks she’s right, which is most of the time. There are a billion reasons I don’t want public school; I have tried explaining them to her in the past and she just won’t hear me. So my new tactic is to piss her off so completely with my apparent stupidity that she will leave me the fuck alone. Whatever works, right?

7 thoughts on “Christmas Eve

  1. *nods* It’s the tactic I use with my equally obtuse and much more obnoxious sister. She’s your in-law–imagine having to grow up with someone like that. My sympathies with you, and moreso with Mr. Husband. Yeesh.

  2. Hey.
    This is kind of heavy for the comments section of somebody else’s blog, but I’m just gonna throw my two cents in on this public school thing. Not that anyone asked for my opinion or anything.
    So, my dad used to tell a lot of jokes with the word nigger in the punch line. I followed his example until I was about thirteen, when my thinking about such things took a 180 degree turn. I know what caused it: bussing and the forced integration of public schools.
    My high school was the first school I ever attended that had a fifty-fifty population split; half African American and half Anglo, with a two or three percent wedge of “miscaneous other” in between. The demographic character of the school population was due almost entirely to bussing. White kids came in from as far north as Wedgwood. I knew kids that lived less than six blocks from Nathan Hale High School, who spent an hour and a half every day on the bus to Garfield.
    During my four years at Garfield, I witnessed the death of public school bussing in Seattle. Watching parents fight tooth and nail to keep their kids out of south end schools while the PTA pushed the school board to divert funds to mostly-white north end schools like Ingram, Nathan Hale, and Ballard, I started to see Garfield’s problems as my problems. I didn’t have any African American friends in high school. But looking at the African American kids on one side and the middle-class white kids from the north on the other, I did see pretty quickly that my lot was with the African American kids when it came to matters of education, opportunity, and expectations. I was a poor welfare kid from the central city. The north-enders’ parents owned their homes, gave their kids cars, and paid for all or most of their college. They had stay-at-home moms who had time to go to PTA meetings and collect private money for improvements to north end elementary and middle schools. And my school took a beating in the process. From the halls of Garfield, their agenda seemed clear: re-segregate the school district so that private funds can be spent to improve “their” north-end schools without any “wasted” money going to improve services for poor inner city kids

  3. Hey! How’s everyone doing? Anyway I was wondering if there’s anyone out there who can help my with my project about integration in public schools and bussing. I myself feel like everyone else because I am african american , and went to an all white school( no offense)with quite a few rednecks everyday hearing how they want to hang me but I saying strong so can you. If you can help me please, please help me by hitting me up at before Friday,May 16,2003. Thanks
    Peace and Love to everyone.

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