Chapter Two: Patron Saint of the Retarded

We’re visiting Aunt Millie, Patron Saint of the Retarded, the first day of our vacation. Her house is a couple hours from our hotel, and he felt obligated to visit the woman who’s been sending him “Happy Birthday. God Bless You” cards all his life. I wouldn’t even so much call it a house as I would call it a petting zoo for the mentally impaired. She never married, never had kids, and when she found god at age 58, she started taking in foster kids: twitchy crack babies, the droopy downward faces of Downs, and the shifty-eyed crouching abused. You name it, she housed it.

In my late 20s I wondered if I would ever have children. Karma and all that college hash would have it that if I did, they’d have eight arms like Shiva or be retarded. Either way, they’d have a dandy time at Aunt Millie’s. I wanted them. Want them. Want one, but I’m already taking care of a big baby. It’s just that instead of carting a kid to soccer practice, I’m carting one to his AA meetings. For all intensive purposes, he’s pretty much useless. He repairs guitars from our one bedroom in New York. Our curtains, our couches, our sheets all smell like varnish like someone glazed over our lives in an attempt to trap us in that moment, just like that mosquito in Jurassic Park. And he pisses on the seat, which he doesn’t lift (goes without saying I guess). And he leaves empty ice cream containers in the freezer and leaves cold pizza on the counter, not on a plate. I’d leave him, but I like his version of me better than I like my own version.

It’s not like I’m barren. My mom had had 5 kids, would have been 6 if she didn’t abort the first one (but I’m not supposed to know that). My grandmother had 4 kids. The other one had 3. Heretically speaking, I should be capable of getting knocked up. If I fail at even that… well, I’m not sure what I would do.

Aunt Mill is offering us peanut butter cookies she probably made 6 months ago, and she serves them in a plastic container that has a macaroon sticker on it, with tea. Scotty, who has a lisp, wantsss me to puhlay Hot Wheelsss with heem, so I roll it around the table a couple times. I’m kind of hoping he has ADD because I do and I’m already bored. Fuck this. How can this be entertaining for you? Stop picking your nose god damn it.

Upon closer inspection, I can see that the driver of this tiny vehicle is a booger, seat-belted in by its own gumminess.

Aunt Mill must have done something awful in her lifetime to be doing this kind of penitence. Like awful, awful. I-killed-a-man-in-Reno awful, because watching Scotty with his plastic car, and Liz with her spandex pink stained leggings, saliva softened cookie plastered to her sleepy elongated face, I think

this must be hell.

I look over to see my boyfriend, the manchild I share my bed and life with, the man I come home to after work to make frozen pizza for, the man I’m actually faithful to, with smooshed cookie in his beard and another in hand. He offers me one.

I taste nickel and feel the flames lick at my feet.


“Thank god we’re fucking out of there” as I light a cigarette on the way to our car, which still smells like the entire McDonald’s dollar menu.

“Oh it wasn’t so bad. The kids are cute.”

I roll the half-lit cigarette between my top and bottom teeth. I don’t even care that the smoke will stick to my hair, my face, my teeth and tongue. It’s not like I showered for this. The only consolation to this day thus far has been the voluntary singeing of my lungs. It reminds me that I have insides. I would have lit up in Aunt Millie’s Petting Zoo, but I was afraid that if I accidentally dropped it, the carpet Margot has so often peed on would have gone right up in flames, Carrie-style. There are two types of people in this world: those whose houses smell like dog pee and those whose don’t. Millie was of the former group.

“Babe, I thought you quit”

Thought I quit smoking. Thought I quit? Really? Did he not see that the first thing I did when I woke up was go outside for a smoke. Probably not, because he was probably jerking off onto the shower stall walls. That’s how it usually works. I work on giving myself cancer, and he works on himself.

Idiot. I have to remember to take my pill when I get home because if this man procreates, the entire world will be at a loss.

I take another drag.

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