The Easter Party
But why are we even doing Easter parties, I wondered the other day. We're not that pious. How'd we get the idea? And suddenly I remembered. It all started with a woman, I'll call her Beth, that was at the time married to one of my family members. (That marriage has since ended, as has my obligation to interact with Beth. Whew!)
I cannot say much about Beth, other than she had a humongous self-esteem and a natural ability to insert her foot into her mouth at any given time. Beth had been drop-dead gorgeous in her younger years. That probably contributed to her belief that she could say anything to anyone and get away with it. People do tend to forgive an obnoxious statement if it comes from a gorgeous woman. Problem is, with time, the beauty wears off, but the obnoxious personality remains.
Since Beth had lived a thousand miles away from us, in my Dad's home town, I hardly ever had a chance to talk to her until we all came to America. When we bought our house, I invited all my relatives to the housewarming party, including Beth. She drove me up the wall.
When Beth tasted my potato salad, she said:
"Wow, you put real ham in it?! I cannot afford it. I use cut-up hot dogs."
And she added a second helping to her plate.
For the main dish, we had ordered shishkebab from a nearby restaurant. The shishkebab came with a large side of home fries. After it was delivered, Beth commented:
"Gee, I really wonder whether I should teach my daughters to cook so they can make their own fries, or to make money so they can order them."
And added a second helping to her plate, of course.
Finally Beth was full, so she didn't feel like commenting on my food anymore. Instead, she switched to racial issues.
"Say, what's the big deal about segregation anyway? So they had separate bathrooms for blacks and whites, so what? We still have separate bathrooms for men and women and no one complains. What's the big difference?"
How can I make this bitch from Hell shut up, I wondered desperately.
"'Cuz having separate bathrooms for blacks and whites would be the same as having separate bathrooms for Jews and Russians," I offered.
Out of sixteen people at the table, only two were ethnic Russians - Mr. Goldie and Beth herself. The rest were Jewish. Beth had no other choice but to shut her trap for a few minutes, giving us all a much-needed break. As soon as the guests left, I told Mr. Goldie that I didn't want to ever see Beth in my house again.
A year later, Beth called and invited us all to an Easter picnic at the park. The weather was nice; Beth was being Beth; we tried to have fun anyway. It was taxing, though. So when, another year later, Beth left a message on our phone inviting us to the Easter picnic again, I realized I couldn't go through with it. I'd had enough of the woman.
Next morning, I emailed all my girlfriends.
"Guys, help!" - was the subject.
I then proceeded to explain:
"I have this really awful relative, and she's inviting us over for Easter, and I don't want to go. But I need a good excuse. Such as - I'd love to come, but I'm already having a party of my own and all my friends are coming over. Can you guys make it?"
I have the best friends in the world. Less than half of them celebrate Easter. But every one of them said yes.
Thus, the tradition was born.
There is of course a moral to this story - one, annoying relatives can be a blessing in disguise. And two, don't be a pain in the ass, or else people will invent new holidays just to get away from you.