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Family Antics Only Prove You Can't Go Home Again

Column by Stacey E. Blau
Opinion Editor

I went home this weekend for the first time in more than six months. And it didn't take long for me to remember why it had been six months and why it's going to be a lot longer before my next trip back to the 'hood - that is, Great Neck, NY.

It's my family, it always is. It's also the glut of Mercedes and the endless succession of rhinoplastied women and their shrill children that rule the streets. It is, after all, Long Island. But I digress.

It's gotten to the point where my mother and I can barely speak to each other. Sometimes things are better and we can have a normal conversation. But most of the time, my mother gets worked up about next to nothing and talks about it at a damn near amphetamine-driven pace.

Me: So I went to do my laundry -

Mother: Laundry? Really, you did? Uh-huh, tell me about it.

My knuckles were white gripping the steering wheel about five minutes into the drive home from the airport.

And it only got worse. Take, for example, the afternoon causerie in the backyard of my aunt's house. The conversation drifts to the topic of my love life.

Grandma: So, are you dating any boys?

Aunt: Any boys we should know about? (Looks at me knowingly).

Me: No.

Mother: They don't date' these days. They go out.'

Aunt: Are you going out with anyone?

Me: No.

It gets more serious.

Aunt: Don't you care if you marry someone Jewish?

Me: I don't care if the person I marry is Jewish or not.

Mother: That's what they all say. Soon there'll be none of us left.

Me: I don't feel I have to carry the burden of 5,757 years of Judaism on my shoulders.

Mother: What do you know? Have you read Alan Dershowitz's new book?

The conversation segues into a matter even more serious: lunch.

Aunt: OK - time for lunch. What do you want, Stacey?

Me: That's okay; I'm not really hungry. I had a lot for breakfast.

Aunt: What do you mean you're not hungry. (Turns to my mother and grandmother). What does she mean she's not hungry?

Grandmother: Of course she's hungry. Stacey, aren't you hungry?

Me: No.

Mother: She's never hungry. She hasn't been eating.

Aunt: None of them eat. They go to college and they eat nothing or they eat junk.

Grandma: That's right. They gnosh on junk.

Mother: When I went to visit her, she had nothing in her room. She says, Food shopping? I'm too busy.' I don't even want to think about what she eats when she's up there.

Aunt: Well, you have to eat something, Stacey. We're going to be very upset if you don't have something. Look at the time - it's time for lunch.

Grandma: Please, Stacey. Have something for me. Have cantaloupe. You don't have to be hungry to have cantaloupe.

Later, on before a family jaunt out toward the sprawl:

Mother: Stacey, go to the bathroom.

Me: I don't have to go.

Mother: You should go anyway or you'll have to go when we're in the car.

Me: Mom, I do not have to pee. If I decide I have to, I'll go when we're there.

Mother: You should go now.

Me: Mother, I am 21 years old. I can decide on my own when I need to go to the bathroom.

Mother: Oooookaaaaay, Stacey. You don't need to get yourself into a tiff about it.

If I was a drinker, I think I would have had a couple of shots of something and then a few more on the plane home, maybe followed later by a handful of Valium. But I don't drink, and I would not have had the heart to get Valium at the drugstore and take from the truly needy on Long Island.

The solution for me really is simple: Don't go home. Maybe after my mother reads this column, I won't have to. Maybe I'll be out of the will, too.