When the one person you want to tell is the one person you can’t tell
Our mutual brother in law – Ted – was being his usual jerk self at Stephanie’s funeral.
I thought, “Oh man I need to call Steph and tell her what Ted is doing!”
Steph was the only one who Got It.
Mr T also gets it to a certain extent, but Steph and I were the outsiders with no blood ties, so it was easier for us to roll our eyes at Ted. Mr T is his brother (or his “half brother,” as Mr T’s parents were always so quick to point out), so it’s a bit harder.
She and I shared many a gossipy conversation about how awful Ted is.
He and his family don’t eat leftovers, he told Mr T.
(Steph was an amazing cook and Italian tomato sauce gets better if it sits a few days. Stephanie and I are both big fans of leftovers.)
When their dad, Sly, was in the rehab center, Ted told Mr T that Mr T needed to prepare Sly’s house for his return, including removing all the carpet and making Sly lose 30 pounds and stop drinking.
(Steph and I wanted Mr T to use his amazing weight loss powers on us first.)
Ted screamed at Mr T when Mr T wouldn’t reimburse him $800 cash for the frequent flier miles Ted used to attend his own father’s funeral.
Please note that Mr T did reimburse him what an actual plane ticket would have cost – about $400 – to attend the funeral.
He just didn’t give Ted the $800 he wanted.
Steph agreed that Ted was a greedy jerk.
Steph and I also had our shared history about Mr T’s dad, who, one Thanksgiving, pitched a fit because his grandchildren, whom he had told to serve themselves of the 20-lb turkey, had taken nothing but white meat.
He would never have dared to take only white meat when he was a kid, Sly shouted.
Why didn’t their mother raise them better? he yelled.
It was quite A Thing and ended only when Steph, who didn’t take crap, got her coat and said she was leaving. Mr T and Steph’s husband (Mr T’s other brother) convinced their dad to leave his office, where he had been sulking, and return to the dining room.
At Thanksgiving the next year, Sly said, unprompted and apropos of nothing, that he had never liked the white meat anyhow.
Steph and I turned to each other as our jaws dropped.
Years ago, after Steph, her husband, and their kids had moved closer to Mr T’s parents, Mr T’s parents had asked them over for Christmas Eve.
Steph politely declined, saying that they had their own traditions – the Seven Fishes, something Steph’s Italian family did every year, but that Sly and Doris were welcome to come to their house.
Sly and Doris insisted and said they would honor the tradition.
And they honored it.
Mr T’s parents provided Steph with a crab leg.
One crab leg.
Every time I saw crab legs on sale, I would screenshot the ad and text it to her.
Ted told Mr T that our musical tastes were “pedestrian” because we went to a Dire Straits concert.
Steph said “I like Dire Straits. Am I pedestrian, too?”
Ted’s wife had told Mr T it was a good thing that Mr T and I were not “financially strapped” the way they were, giving us the joyous freedom of taking care of Mr T’s parents as they died.
Ted and his wife grabbed tons of stuff from Sly and Doris’ house after they died, asking for furniture and complaining that Mr T wasn’t giving them the Good Jewelry that Doris had promised them.
“WHAT GOOD JEWELRY?” Steph asked. “She had nothing but costume jewelry!”
Mr T finally dumped all of Doris’ jewelry into a box and sent the whole thing to Ted.
And then he sent his mom’s silver to Ted.
Ted was not amused.
For Steph’s funeral, Ted chose to stay at the same hotel where Mr T and I were staying.
We did not ask him to stay near us.
We did not ask him to stay in the same hotel.
We did not even recommend the hotel.
Mr T got our room on points and it was a convenient location and that was it.
Ted complained to Mr T that the hotel was awful and said he was going to punch and maybe even murder Mr T for that.
He also told Mr T that he needed to “open your wallet” and stay someplace like the Ritz Carlton.
He said that an open-casket funeral – which this one was – is “morbid.”
And he questioned my amazing, smart, kind, thoughtful niece’s ability to plan a funeral and execute the estate.
OMG! I thought. STEPH WILL NOT BELIEVE WHAT A JERK TED IS BEING!
Then Ted suggested that we – Mr T and I, our nieces and nephew, their dad, and Ted and his wife – get together for supper the night before the funeral.
At an expensive restaurant.
Not world class, though! Not world class, like where the ones where Ted lives, but it was good enough, he assured us.
“Surely the trust can pay for the kids,” he said. “I’m sure Sly and Doris wouldn’t mind kicking in from the grave.”
Thing the One
This trust is the money the kids inherited from their grandparents. It’s their money now, not their grandparents’ money. Money that Mr T is using to pay their student loans. To help them with unexpected big expenses. To fund their IRAs.
It’s not go out to fancy restaurants money.
Thing the Two
Mr T and I, in Before Times, would have supper with my dad’s two brothers and their wives. We tried and tried and tried to pick up the bill and my aunts and uncles WERE NOT HAVING IT.
“My brother’s kid paying for my supper? I DON’T THINK SO!” my uncle muttered. (Yes, he muttered in all caps.)
In what world does an uncle invite his nieces and nephews to dinner on the night before they bury their mother and expect them to pay for their own meal?
Steph is going to be so pissed that Ted thinks Niece #1 can’t handle this. Generous Steph, who always fed me when I visited, is going to be so pissed that Ted didn’t offer to host.
Mr T and I agreed that our nieces and nephew might want to spend the night before their mom’s funeral with Steph’s brother and his family and the rest of their mom’s relatives. That having dinner with us might not be top of mind for them.
Mr T’s brother and the kids’ father told Ted the same thing.
Ted said he would make reservations just in case.
FORTUNATELY, Ted told us, he is friends with the front of house manager at the restaurant and could get reservations for nine.
(Ted aside, the last thing I want to do right now is to 1. eat at a restaurant 2. with unmasked possibly infected people 3 when it’s so crowded that reservations are required.)
(Also the last last thing I want to do is spend a lot of money to eat out.)
(And if I were going to risk covid to eat at a restaurant, it would not be so I could eat with Ted. It would be with people I actually like.)
FORTUNATELY, Mr T told him that we wanted to eat the local food, not the French food offered at the fancy restaurant Ted had chosen.
To which Ted replied that he can’t eat the local food because he can’t eat onions and I thought “WTAF? Is this about being together or is it about eating where Ted wants to eat?”
Silly me. Of course it’s about eating where Ted wants to eat.
And then FORTUNATELY Mr T told Ted we are not eating in restaurants anyhow these days and the kids’ dad already said they’re not going to supper, which would be the reason we might make an exception.
And I wanted to text Steph and say “OMG CAN YOU BELIEVE THIS GUY?”
And I couldn’t.