Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Pseudos, Part Four

The summer i was fifteen, my parents had major no-kid vacation plans as well. My brother had since destroyed our uncle's dream of coaching a nephew to the summit of competitive tennis by electing to play high school baseball. My brother would be spending our parents' vacation time at a baseball camp that also operated a summer league. My parents couldn't really leave the country with my brother playing baseball because they needed to be available to fly to where he was in the event that he got hurt, but that still left forty-eight contiguous states through which they could travel. When I attended tennis camp, I usually got sick each year, and was only able to stay because my uncle ran the camp and my aunt was there as well. My parents didn't think the odd of my making it through a random summer camp were all that great. They chose, insead, to send me to pseudo-summer camp with my pseudo-aunt and uncle.

We didn't start out as complete strangers, but there was still a getting-used-to-each-other-all-over-again period. They had changed, and so had I, and it took some time to become reacquainted. Still, Pseudo-Uncle was never again so cold to me as he was on that ride from the airport the first summer. Their furniture from the previous year was no longer in their living room. I assume it must have gone to a garbage heap, because if they'd tried to donate it to the poor, they'd have been hard-pressed to find anyone poor enough to want it. Their "new" furniture was still someone's cast-offs, but they were apparently getting their cast-offs from someone with a slightly higher-calibre lifestyle. They were also buying real Kool-Aid instead of the store-brand variety.

That year my pseudo-aunt was teaching kindergarten in summer school. I went with her to summer school every day until the final week, when one germ factory who contantly had at least one finger up a nostril any time I looked at him eventually caught a respiratory virus and gave it to everyone else in the classroom. Pseudo-Auntie and I caught the bug; for her it ended up as pneumonia, and mine turned to croup. Even pneumonia did little to get in the way of the pseudos' poignant silences followed by their emerging in a disheveled state from a room in which they had been alone, and Pseudo-Uncle becoming suddenly very cheerful.

My croup was my only significant illnes of the summer, and my summer at pseudo-summer camp eneded more or less uneventfully except for the time we ran into my Aunt Marthalene, my father's sister, in a grocery store. actually she ran into us --literally -- with her shopping cart when she wasn't paying any attention to where she was going. True to form,my Aunt Marthalene, blamed Pseudo-Aunt for having the nerve to have her body within collision-range of her cart. I can say with9ut hesitation that my aunt Marthalene is one of my three least favorite relatives, with the other two being her husband, Mahonri (the one who steals toothpaste and toilet paper from us) and her father, who is also my grandfather. Once my aunt Marthalene recognized me, she stopped haranguing Pseudo-Aunt. She gave me the evil eye and quickly moved away.

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