The Devil Made Me Do it

I love my husband's family. Stop laughing, it's true. I feel very blessed to be included in such a wonderful family. They have and continue to be a large part of my support system, through the death of my son and with Boo being gone most days of the month.

That said, I often wonder what planet these people come from. It stems from the entirely different upbringing and values his parents raised their family with than what I grew up accustomed to.

His dad worked on the family farm and at his daily job for the gas company and was home every night for dinner, to ride herd on his family; never missing a birthday or a holiday. My dad worked out of town in the oil patch and would be gone so long that when he finally came home sporting a full beard, I would wonder who the hell was this dude sitting at the kitchen table in his underwear having a cigarette.

His mom taught Sunday school and sang church hymns as she baked fresh bread and cooked three square meals a day, while chasing chickens and feeding cows and generally being a little Molly Homemaker. My mom worked in an office everyday, putting on business suits and heels and was so exhausted by the day's end the only thing she was singing was the blues.

Our childhoods were vastly different. I wouldn't say his childhood was better than mine, or vice versa, just really different. He was a country kid from a Christian family and I was a city kid with working parents. Boo never had the joys of being able to walk to the park or the store after school, and I never had the joy of hauling my arse out of bed to go do farm chores before I was allowed to eat my breakfast.

I would pay big money to see my mom wearing an apron chasing a chicken around the yard to kill it for supper.

If I tried to emulate my mother in law, I think my children and my husband would fall over dead from shock if I slapped on an apron and started belting out hymns while baking cookies. I'm no Martha Stewart.

Because of these vast differences in our upbringings, I often find myself feeling a little out of place with his family. I'm not exactly the wife they had in mind for their baby Boo. Not that I'm a bad wife. I'm just not exactly a good one.

Still, they welcome me with open arms and overlook the fact that I've got more holes in my body than any of them, I don't know the words to Amazing Grace and they try to see past my skin which is starting to look like a canvass a three year attacked with finger paints when Mommy wasn't looking.

They've adopted me as one of their own. For which I'm grateful.

Yet when I discovered there was going to be a large family gathering this weekend to celebrate the 90th birthday of the family matriarch, I panicked. Boo wasn't going to be home to apologize for whatever blunder I was about to commit and I felt like I was marching off to the gallows, awaiting my fate.

Silly, really, as this family is full of kind and loving people. Even if they thought I was a nut job who should be locked into a rubber room, they would never let that show. They're too nice for that. I could walk around wearing hooker boots and a leather bustier, with my hair in a mohawk, and talking about conspiracy theories while food fell out of my mouth and they would just nod and tell me 'that's interesting dear. Would you like a napkin?'

It's just I haven't been to a gathering of this magnitude since the day I buried my son two years ago. The last time I saw many of these faces, they were crumpled with tears or sporting looks of pity on them as they tried to console my husband and I. I wasn't sure I was up to facing the crowd with out my husband's broad shoulders to hide behind.

I didn't want to answer the dreaded "How are you doing?" question that inevitably comes up when someone remembers that yes, I'm the mother to a ghost. I wasn't sure I was mentally strong enough to pull off a family function without turning into a puddle of self-pity and tears.

Turns out, like always, I was worried for nothing. Because I like to do that. You know. Fret and sweat and get all up tight over nothing. It's part of my charm.

I tried to take special care with my appearance. I gussied up and made sure all of my bits were covered appropriately. I didn't want the guest of honor to keel over from shock because her grandson's wife looked like a two bit hooker looking for a john. (I'm thoughtful like that.)

I tried to watch my manners and make sure my children didn't act like wild little animals that were ready to chew off the legs of anyone who came near them.

I sat with my legs primly closed, and my back ramrod straight. I smiled and made small talk with the hordes of family that descended upon us and tried not to show how nervous I was. It may have felt like they were all circling in for the kill, ready to pounce at my jugular, but really they were just wanting a chance to catch up with our lives.

I think.

I thought I did pretty good.

I got cocky. I started feeling confident. Until an aunt came up to me and stuck up a conversation. She prattled on about writing, and how she had just submitted a novel to a Christian publishing house. Then she informed me that she heard I was writing.

"What are you writing?" She inquired as she eyed my tattoos.

"Um, nothing serious. Just a little here and there," I evaded, while telling myself to behave.

"Where could I find some of your work?" she asked, genuinely interested by the fact there was another writer in the family.

And with that, I stared at her and shit my pants blinked. Crap.

"Um, I publish online sometimes. Not very often," I hurried to add. She lit up like a Christmas tree.

"Really! That's fabulous." She smiled and patted my leg. And then it came. The question I feared worse than a plague of locusts. "What do you write about?" I could feel the battle of good and evil wage within me.

I took a well timed sip of my coffee and wondered do I dare tell this highly religious, mother of four, prim and proper, rather uptight, well respected woman that I spend my time writing about nipple rings and blow jobs, composing odes to bath tubs filled with shit and dead animals and how I spend most of my time hiding in the pantry drinking wine instead of parenting my children.

Common sense was screaming at me to shut my mouth and lie. Tell her you write about your feelings, the angel on my shoulder implored. The little red devil begged me to tell her about the post I wrote about waxing my beaver.

I was torn. But not for long.

"Well, I occasionally talk about my angel boy and how we've struggled with his passing," I started. She nodded and told me how fantastic that was.

"But most of the time I like to write about wearing nipple tassels and knee pads for Boo. You know, crotchless panties and the such." And then I excused myself to get the hell out of Dodge get a cup of coffee without making eye contact. As soon as I said it I wished I could take it back. It sounded good in my head. Why Lawd, why did you make me with out an impulse control button, I wondered.

She didn't try and strike up conversation again after that. I wonder why.

This is why I like to have Boo with me for these types of gatherings. He generally keeps the devil in me muzzled.

Later that night, feeling like an arse, I told my husband what I had done and how good it felt to be bad at the time yet how I was now suffering with remorse. He consoled me and told me not to worry about it.

"She's cool. She probably thought you were joking. Don't worry about it. You have a bigger problem," he warned me.

Oh great. Because it's not enough that I basically made myself look like a sex feigned twit. I need more things to freak out over. "What? What more?" I whined.

"You ought to be ashamed of yourself," he continued.

"I know..."

"You've got crotchless panties and I've NEVER seen them!" he noted.

Ya. I guess that is a bigger problem than placing both feet in my mouth at the same time. Thanks for the perspective honey. I needed it.