Irish Linen

Two days before the table had been set. The new paint job was on the walls. The holes had been fixed.  The argument that cut our trip short the last time was behind us.

“They did a nice job on the walls” I said trying to act like it didn’t bother me.

“Everything looks so festive…”

The glasses on the table sparkled, the snow white linen was from Ireland.

“They really did a nice job didn’t they” she replied back.

“They sure did” I said.
What I wanted to say, I couldn’t! Instead I smiled. It’s gonna be festive alright, real festive.

My girlfriends mom put her spoon in the sink.

“I see you purchased a grate for the bottom of the sink. Now the spoons won’t scratch the stainless steel. ”

My girlfriend gave me the “eyes“. The “shut the hell up” eyes but I smiled the “no chance in hell” smile back at her.

We had only walked in the door a few minutes before. It was Wednesday and Thanksgiving Thursday felt far away.

Tomorrow is never a guarantee and because of that I have a hard time holding my tongue.

The Delaware River Gap was flooded, the banks overflowed, and all the leaves were gone. My politeness was gone and as hard as I tried I could not forget the last time I was here.

The last time, my girlfriend and her mother had an argument and her mom wanted us to leave. I was in the middle of painting the house for her. Everything was going well, the walls and hallways looked great just like they do now. But a spoon had been put in the sink and her mom got upset over it. It was a new sink and she didn’t have a grate for it yet. She didn’t want the stainless steel being scratched.

I stepped outside for a smoke.

I liked being outside at her mom’s house. Outside on the porch I was sure I wouldn’t sit in the wrong place or on the wrong furniture. This obsession with material things was new to me.

On the mountains in the Pocono’s was a ghost town. The neighborhood was clean and gated but every other house was in foreclosure or for sale. The grey rocks and course grass, a bare outline of a landscape. I was alone on the porch like the rest of the retirees.

I held my tongue into the next day. We sat down for Thanksgiving. Smiles and prayers, set us off to a good start.  We were having a few drinks and laughs when one of the kids spilled a drink.

The grape juice stained the Irish linen. My girls Mom jumped up screaming “Ohh No No! That’s Fine IRISH Linen! You’ll have to pay for this.”

“I am not paying for you to have that cleaned, Mom. You knew you were having kids at the table.”

Her Mom turned to me “What would they do in Ireland?”

“In Ireland, that linen would be in the closest or wrapped around a Celtic King at his funeral.”

This time my girl didn’t give me the “eyes”, instead the wine shot out of her mouth and nose. I got the “eyes” from her mom instead.  The politeness was gone.

It was the perfect family dinner.

I finally felt at home.


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