(Note: The goons who took away my computer last night have failed to materialize tonight. It behooves me, therefore, to take advantage of their dereliction of duties by quickly cranking out another saga in the exciting chronicles of my time with the pseudo-relatives. I've been very busy in the daytime with helping my peers academically, primarily by distracting the teacher who comes in daily to supervise their studies, so that they can actually complete their assignments. I'll write more abouut that, which is a story in and of itself, at some other time.)
So the ice was essentially broken in my new relationhip with my Pseudo-Aunt
and Uncle. Even though my Pseudo-Aunt is only six years older than I, it was then and is still as though she's now of a different generation. It's easy to think of her more as an aunt than as a cousin, which was a more correct characterization of our relationship while she was still growing up. When we met up with her acquaintances, she usually just introduced me as her niece so that she didn't have to go into the convoluted story of just how screwed up my family was and still is. Pseudo-Uncle is four years older than she, so even if I had known him in the earlier years, he probably never would have seemed like a peer. He contimnued to treat me as a child much younger than I was, but as long as he was nice, which he always was after the initial encounter, it didn't bother me.
We got through that first summer almost without incident. The most noteworthy occurence was when I developed croup, which I still get from time to time. I tried to tell the Pseudos what to do about it, but Pseudo-Aunt called her parents (her mom's an R. N. and her dad's an OB-GYN), and they said I needed to be taken to the hospital. So at 11:45 p.m. the Pseudos loaded me into a car in my pajamas and drove to an emergency room in a city next to the one in which they lived. The hospital in their home city has a reputation for killing off relatively healthy people, so they were taking no chances; we went instead to a hospital where Pseudo-Uncle's brother had privileges as an attending physician. Pseudo-Uncle carried
me in and told me to do my best barking seal imitation to make it appear as serious as possible and to shorten our wait time. It worked; I was seen immediately.
Nurses hooked me up to an IV. I was given IV antibiotics and injections of steroids and too many other drugs to remember. I was placed into some sort of oversized crib thing, and a steam tent was set up over it. At some point in the night I was relocated from the E. R. to a regular room. Pseudo-Uncle's physician brother came to check me out after I had succumbed to drugs and was asleep. I don't remember much about his visit, but I do remember thinking that he wasn't nearly as good-looking as his younger brother. I hope I didn't say it out loud. The Pseudos stayed diligently by my bed through the night. I'm sure they didn't want to have to call my parents and tell them I was dead, because they might not have gotten paid if that had happened.
The only other noteworthy happening was when we went to an LDS church We didn't go to any other churches during my stay there. Pseudo Uncle supposedly converted to Catholicism before their wedding, but I saw no overt evidence that either one of them was taking religion overly seriously. For that matter, one doesn't go to Utah to hang out in Catholic churches. To do so would be akin to going to Rome for the purpose of checking out the local Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses.
The reason for our visit to the LDS church was to be present for the blessing of Pseudo-Uncle's niece. I tried hard to convince the Pseudos to allow me to stay at their apartment by myself, but, for whatever reason, they would not allow it. They had told my parents they would babyit me, and they were intent on babysitting me whether I needed babyitting or not.
On the way to the Church, I told them about the time I was blessed and how witnessing this might cause me to have ugly flashbacks. I suggested that they might want to stop the car and let me out so that I didn't scream during the night and wake up the neighbors' babies through the cardstock-thin walls. Pseudo-Uncle said that if I did wake up the neighbors' babies, it would only be justice, because they had certainly woken him up enough in the months he'd been living in the apartment. Short of faking an epileptic seizure, which would have been a stretch even for me, I had no other trump cards to play. There was no option except to go to the @%$^* LDS church service.
I've been to LDS churches a few times for family events. There is a certain sameness pertaining to LDS chapels: if you've been to one, you might as well have been to them all, and once you've been inside, you'd never mistake an LDS chapel for a church of any other denomination. It's familiar in other ways as well. Mediocre organ music (played by a mediocre-at-best organist on a mediocre-at-best organ) combined with the sound of restless toddlers and cranky babies, mixed in with the scent of Cheerios, spit-up milk, and diapers, then tossed into uncomfortable pews, all blend to form a multi-sensory experience that is unique to a Mormon chapel on a Sunday. It was instant deja vu, and not the happy kind of deja vu.
Then what for me was almost the worst thing happened: my father's sister Elise and her family walked in. I was seated between Pseudo-Aunt and Pseudo-Uncle's seven-year-old niece. I immediately pulled the seven-year-old, who was nearly as big as I (she's the one who almost caused me to be a flower girl when she got chicken pox because her dress fit me) onto my lap and told her to stay there no matter what. Pseudo-Aunt asked what was wrong. I told her. She didn't say anything, but when the seven'year'old's dad told her to get off my lap, Pseudo-Aunt explained it to him, and the child was allowed to remain as my human decoy.
Eventually the first part of church ended, and the little kids went off to Primary. Then my biological aunt noticed me. She just glared in my direction. I glared back at her. Pseudo-Uncle started singing some LDS kiddy song about how families can be together forever. Pseudo-Aunt told him to stop before he gave me nightmares.
It seemed eerie that, of all the LDS wards in Utah (I have no idea how many there are, but the count must be in the tens of thousands) the one I went to had to be among the approximately ten in which members of my dad's family would be present, which would have put the odds at greater than one in one thousand. Mormonism seems consistently to defy odds in that way.
TO BE cONTINUED