From The Law of Attraction
We walked downstairs and first I saw my Aunt Ruth and my Uncle Ira. Ruth came over to me and clutching me to her ample bosom, said in the most nasal voice and the heaviest Queens (and I don’t mean the British kind) accent most people have ever heard, “Gabrielle! How awre you?”
“I’m great, Aunt Ruth. How are you?”
“Fabulous! Simply fabulous! You look amazing! Look Ira! Doesn’t Gabrielle look amazing?”
“You look amazing, Gabrielle. You lost some weight huh?”
“Nah, not really. I just walk a lot, so I’m kind of like more toned, you know? Uh, let me introduce you. This is my boyfriend Braden. Braden, this is my Aunt Ruth and my Uncle Ira.”
“It’s a pleasure to meet you,” Braden said, sounding wonderfully cultured. It wasn’t hard to sound wonderfully cultured next to my Aunt Ruth though.
“Oh my gawd!” Ruth screeched. ”Gabrielle brought a guy home! And he’s so good-looking!” I wanted to crawl under the couch and hide.
“Well, that’s a first!” Ira added. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Braden! We were starting to wonder if maybe Gabby was gay, you know?” He chuckled. “Not that there’s anything wrong with that.”
“There’s nothing wrong with that! I know lots of gay people!” Ruth chimed in. “My hair stylist is gay and he’s a lovely person!” She seemed to be apologetically explaining this to me for some reason.
“Where’s Rachel?” I asked, before Ruth could name every gay person she knew.
“She and Bubbe are still outside. They’re having a little disagreement and I asked them to resolve it before they came in,” she said, rolling her eyes.
“Maybe we should check on them,” my mom said. Yeah, no kidding. They could be out there all night. On the other hand … My mom went out front.
“Ben!” Ira said. “How’s the world of big business?”
“Great, Ira! How’s the dry-cleaning business?”
“Wonderful! We’re the ones who keep your guys lookin’ good!” My dad chuckled like Ira hadn’t said that every time that he had seen him for the past thirty years.
“And what do you do, Braden?” Ira asked.
“I’m an assistant district attorney.” He smiled.
“Another lawyer! Well, good for you, Gabby! You found one with a good job. We were worried you might get desperate enough to start dating your clients. So when are you getting married?” I wanted to drink bleach.
“Uh, well, we haven’t been dating that long yet, Uncle Ira.”
“Well, Gabby, you’re not getting any younger and I don’t think you want to let this one go, you know what I’m saying, kiddo?” he said in a quiet voice, like he was sharing privileged information with me.
“Ira, why don’t you come with me for a minute while I check on dinner?” My dad jumped in quickly. “I want to hear everything that’s going on in the dry cleaning world.” Dad was such a great guy. He was totally taking one for the team. Ira followed him to the kitchen, talking serious dry cleaning talk. The front door swung open and my mother came in looking stressed. She plastered a big smile on her face anyway. She was pretty great too. My parents were really going to the mat for me.
“Gabrielle, sweetheart, look, your cousin Rachel’s here!” Rachel, my thirty-two-year-old cougar cousin with the big hair, the expensive manicure and the Jimmy Choos came over and hugged me.
“Gabrielle, you look great!”
“So, do you Rach! This is my boyfriend, Braden.”
“What a pleasure,” she smiled. Then she turned to me and said loud enough for everyone to hear, “Wow, very hot. Is he built to scale?” My eyes widened. Braden coughed to cover a surprised laugh. And then I heard it, coming in the door, the voice of my childhood nightmares.
“Gabrielle! Dahling! Is that you?”
“Bubbe! Yes it’s me.” My grandmother, all four foot eleven inches of her, shuffled in, leaning on her cane. The cane was a prop, of course; she could sprint a city block when she needed to.
“I almost didn’t recognize you. Probably because you never visit me. I wouldn’t know your voice because you never call me either. Would it kill you to call once in a while? Maybe you could even write a letter if you were feeling particularly generous.”
“I’m sorry, Bubbe.” She made it to the front of the crowd and squinted up at Braden. She also had twenty/twenty vision incidentally. “Who’s the Viking?”
“This is my boyfriend, Braden, Bubbe.”
“Your boyfriend? We thought you were gay. Does he have a job?”
“He’s a lawyer.”
“A lawyer who makes money or a lawyer like you?”
“He’s a prosecutor.”
“So, a lawyer like you but on the right side.” She squinted again. “He doesn’t look Jewish.”
“He’s not Jewish, Bubbe.”
“What do you mean why not?” Rachel cut in. “Because he’s not! And I’ve got news for you. It doesn’t matter! I married a nice Jewish guy.” Oh no! Here we go! “A doctor! Top of the freaking Jewish food chain. And do you know where he is now? Shacking up with a twenty-three-year-old shiksa! That’s where he is now!”
“Well, were you keeping him happy in bed?” Bubbe asked, and I started to panic.
“Ma!” my mother cut in. “How could you ask that? You’re not gonna blame her because her husband cheated on her?!”
“I’ll bet you any money she didn’t give him oral attention,” Bubbe announced.
“Uh! I don’t think we should …” I tried.
“Excuse me! But a lot of women simply do not enjoy performing oral sex! I mean guys pee out of that thing!” Rachel shouted.
“See? What did I tell you?” Bubbe looked smug.
“Braden, maybe we should check on dinner,” I said desperately.
“Uh,” he replied. I grabbed his hand and dragged him into the kitchen where Ira was still talking dry cleaning and my dad’s eyes were glazing over.
“I’m so sorry,” I said to Braden and I meant it from the bottom of my heart.
“It’s okay! Don’t worry so much.” I could hear Rachel and Bubbe yelling at one another in the other room. My mom popped her head in.
“So, Ben, sweetheart, does the brisket look done?”
“Judy! Yes, honey, why don’t you help me? I don’t want to impose on Ira here. Ira, why don’t you go in the other room and relax?” Like anybody could relax with the cage match going on in there.
“Okay, if you don’t mind.”
“No! Not at all! Go! Really!” my dad pleaded. Ira grabbed a carrot stick and headed for the other room. Maybe he had learned to block them out.
“Daddy, can Braden and I please stay in here and help you too? Please!”
“Yes, of course sweetheart! You don’t have to go back out there.”
“So, Braden, I hope you like brisket,” my mother said with a smile just as Rachel shouted something about how maybe Bubbe should just go and blow all the guys in her bridge club.
“I do, thanks,” he said, trying not to laugh. My dad turned to face him with a look of exasperated amusement, and in that moment, Braden Pierce and Ben Ginsberg bonded.
“Okay, let’s get this show on the road. Gabby, do you want to light the candles, sweetheart?” Dad asked.
“Okay. Ma, will you please make them be quiet?”
“Of course, honey.” She took a deep breath. “Ben, Gabby, I love you. Braden, darling I think you’re wonderful. Okay! Let’s go!” she said in a voice filled with steely determination. We got into the other room and my mother put two fingers to her lips and whistled shrilly. “Everybody shut up! It’s time to light the candles and welcome the Sabbath!” I sighed.
“Here you go, Braden,” my dad said, handing him a yarmulke. Braden looked at it like he had just been given a gift. There weren’t a lot of six foot three blonde-haired blue-eyed guys who wore Jewish skull caps, but he managed to carry it off pretty well. We went into the dining room and everyone stood by the sideboard as I lit the candles and said the blessing. I glanced up and smiled at Braden who was watching me carefully. He really found this interesting. I also saw my parents watching him. The fact that he found it interesting made them happy. Somebody up there must have been listening to the prayers because my crazy relatives stopped screaming at each other and sat down quietly. It was a Sabbath miracle.