Sunday, February 3, 2013

Fluster Chuck

by Rose A. Valenta

Super Bowl Sunday dinner is destined to turn out like the maiden voyage of the Titanic. Believe me; it has nothing to do with the Ravens, 49ers, or Shannon Sharpe. The fluster chuck and icebergs being our two young grandsons vs. our daughter Sally’s in-laws, Dwight and Margaret Stern, a surly couple equipped with the combined personalities of two flat souffl├ęs.

Margaret is a retired country club groupie, who once thought Warren Buffett was the sexiest thing since Aristotle Onasis, and Dwight used to stuff shirts for a living. They met at a charity play – a match spawned from a remake of “Les Miserables.” I found all this out a few months ago, after they drank too much champagne at Sally and Mel’s wedding and dumped on me. It was better than a Joe Biden Gaffe. Now, they stick with non-alcoholic cantaloupe horchatas. They should drink more alcohol. 

Our other guests include Sally’s husband, Mel; our 12 and 14-year-old grandsons, Glenn and Earl, whom we call Loaf and Domino because they are lazy and always into mischief; my husband’s best friend, Vince Lubelli, who is divorced and unemployed with an IQ low enough to make Ripley’s; and my sister, Berni, who is 50 years old, going on 12, and still dates college guys. 

Our oldest daughter is away. We are babysitting our grandsons and have no choice in the matter, we’re stuck with them for Super Bowl Sunday. I quickly determined where to hide the mashed potatoes, so they can’t have a food fight and play “zit” in front of the Sterns. My husband and I were uneasy about inviting them, but Sally had called earlier and insisted.

“Mom, can you invite Mel’s parents over for dinner on Super Bowl Sunday?”

“Are you nuts?” I asked. “The Domino Effect, Vince ‘The Zoner,’ and your Aunt Berni ‘The Cougar,’ will be here.”

“It’s Okay,” she said. “I’ll keep the boys occupied with Xbox games. Margaret and Dwight are in town and it would be impolite to leave them alone at our house, while we come over and party. Just make sure Aunt Berni doesn’t bring her latest Nick Jonas look-alike; and ask Dad not to torment Vince with his usual Jay Walking game. I was totally embarrassed the last time Dad grabbed the salt shaker like a mic and put it in Vince's face, asking 'Who wrote the motivational book,  Who Moved my Cheese?' and Vince blurted out ‘Chaz Bono?"

“I don’t know,” I said. “Remember the last time we all had dinner together and Loaf kept pelting Margaret with Spanish olives? The boys swing from trees at the mall. Your sister never trained them for anything civilized. When they play Xbox, they use all seven Urban Dictionary words that Carlin said are banned on TV."

“Mom, I promise to keep them calm and occupied.”

“Okay,” I said. “This I have to see.”

“Thanks, you’re a gem.”

“You’re welcome," I said. “The disclaimer will be hanging off the front door, just below the Harbaugh jersey. Your father is leaving nothing to chance."

We decided to serve dinner buffet-style, so that we could keep the Sterns at a safe distance from Loaf and Domino, who never mastered social skills or how to put the toilet seat down.

“Five dollars says one of the Sterns will end up sitting on cold porcelain in the bathroom before the night is over,” I yelled out to my husband, who was outside trying to blow the dust balls off the fleur de lis candlesticks that haven’t been out of the china closet since Super Bowl 44. He finally resorted to artfully using the potato peeler to shave them; then, he added two plastic ravens.

“You're on,” my husband laughed.

Well, he should have just handed me the five dollars, as half-way through dinner we could hear Margaret’s loud screams in the bathroom drowning out the entertainment system, which was blasting Domino's favorite Steelheart recording, “Love Ain’t Easy.” Margaret prefers Luciano Pavarotti's "A Te, O Cara" from I Puritani, so she was doubly traumatized.

Kick-off was still a few hours away, so I gave her a towel, two aspirin, and a doggie bag.  I gave Dwight a desperately needed 12-pack of Blue Moon. He was so upset, his testicles receded and he was in a great deal of pain. Vince gave up his Ravens hat and Mel drove them back home.

I turned to Sally and she accurately read the I told you so look on my face.

“I know,” she said. “Just like savoir-faire, Fluster Chuck is everywhere!”

© 2013, Valenta, All rights reserved.
To read my column Skinny Dipping click here
To buy my book “Sitting on Cold Porcelain” click here