That Time My Aunt And Boyfriend Made Out On Thanksgiving
‘Look honey. I don’t know how to say this so I guess I just gotta say it. He made out with Lorette. In Jacque’s bed.’
“What was she even doing there?”
“No, but then she — “
“But Ijeoma,” my brother Aham interrupted again, “Seriously. What was she even doing there?”
I sighed. He had a point. Something like this was bound to happen.
The “she” he was referring to was my aunt Lorette. I mean, I guess she wasn’t really my aunt anymore. Not since she and my uncle had divorced a decade earlier. Before he was sent to prison again. We weren’t close at all. She didn’t like any of us. So what Aham was getting to really was at the core of the problem. What was Lorette doing at our family Thanksgiving? This could all have been avoided if we had just shunned the exes like we were supposed to.
“I don’t know why she was there. But it’s pretty fucking obvious what she was doing there. I gotta go. Break’s over,” I snubbed out my cigarette, gathered my nerves, and headed back into the office.
The day before had started innocently enough. I had spent the morning making pies for Thanksgiving while pleading with my 2-year-old son Malcolm to take a nap. This was my first Thanksgiving since I’d filed for divorce, and I was already stressed enough at the thought of all the questions from the family about how I was doing. I didn’t want to deal with a cranky toddler on top of it. He was screaming at the top of his lungs and throwing toys down the stairs while I tried to make the world’s worst pie crust. I was about to make a preemptive call to CPS when there was a knock at my door.
The day before had started innocently enough.
I opened the door and there was my new boyfriend. Crying. I was immediately filled with regret. Why didn’t I check the peephole? I could have pretended to be gone.
It’s not that I don’t like it when men cry. I’m a feminist, for heaven’s sake. I love it when men cry.
Provided they aren’t ugly criers.
Ian was an ugly crier. The kind whose face dissolved like a Dali painting as gobs of snot shot out of his nose. He lost all ability to function and demanded that people hold him while he choked on sobs that sounded like the mating call of a large goose. It filled me with a rage I usually reserved for people who scam the elderly, or Tyler Perry.
“It’s . . . just . . . so . . . hard.” He forced out between sobs, “I didn’t think it was going to be so . . . HARD!” and with that he ran past me and collapsed on a chair that was far too small for his 6’3, 250lb frame.
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Ian was also getting a divorce. That was the thing we had in common. We also worked together. And when you are in the middle of custody battles, heartbreak, and legal fees — all you need is one thing in common and proximity. At first. But we had reached the point in our relationship where I despised everything about him. Not just the ugly crying, his smug laugh like he gets paid $5,000 for every shitty joke, his inability to ever pick a restaurant for dinner, or the fact that he texted me from the bathroom. Not just the fact that he used scented shower gel, scented lotion, cologne, and matching deodorant ALL AT ONCE. But I digress.
I was frazzled and tired and before I could think it through I asked, “Do you want to come to my family Thanksgiving?”
“Oh. I think that would help,” he said as he wiped his nose on his shirt. My son had come downstairs to see who could possibly be crying louder than him. “Hey buddy,” Ian said, “Can I have a hug?”
I really should have dumped him then.
We arrived at Thanksgiving and things started out pretty smoothly. Nobody was yelling, it didn’t smell like any food was burning, the kids were well-rested. My mom was frantically yelling for ingredients as she stirred gravy and my grandma was pulling an insane amount of cranberry salad out of the fridge. My grandpa was yelling that nobody ever gives a damn about what he has to say anyways so why doesn’t he just stay home goddamnit. Lorette was sitting at the table discussing a fancy dress she had just bought. “It’s taffeta,” she said with a raised eyebrow as she poured another glass of wine from the Franzia box.
Ian fit right in. He immediately began helping my mom in the kitchen and she was laughing at his horrible jokes in no time. He had compliments for everyone. He thought my grandpa’s stories were fascinating. He assured Lorette that she was going to look stunning in her dress. He shared work stories with my brother. In all honesty, it really annoyed me. Nobody interesting enjoys Thanksgiving. Especially not in my family. And here he was, having fun, laughing. And they were laughing with him. Nobody had started crying yet. Nobody had thrown any dishes. Nobody had stormed out in anger. Nothing to break the monotony that is forced time with the people you love.
After a few hours I really couldn’t take anymore. As soon as dessert was served I started prepping my exit. “Oh man, look at how tired Malcolm is,” I would say as he ran around, alert as ever. “Oh geez, he is just wearing himself out. He NEVER stays up this late,” I said around 7 pm. It was about 8 pm when I felt that I had sufficiently bitched enough to leave without raising suspicion.
Nobody interesting enjoys Thanksgiving. Especially not in my family.
I tapped Ian on the arm, “Hey hon, it’s time to go. Malcolm needs to go to bed.”
“Hey, can I stay here?” he said brightly, “I mean, your family is the best. And they were just going to bring out the karaoke machine!”
“That’s really weird,” I blurted out. But he seriously looked like he might cry again. “Okay, whatever. I’ve got to go. Have fun.”
I gathered my kid and my bags. My grandpa tapped me on the shoulder, “I really like him kiddo. Good job.”
My grandma nodded and gave me a thumbs up.
I saw Ian at my first work break the next morning. I had taken the subsequent hours of post-family time to reflect. Ian really had been great with my family. How many times had I wished that my ex-husband would even make eye contact with one of my relatives, let alone sing karaoke with them? I was obviously being way too hard on this dude.
“How was the rest of your evening?” I asked, extra cheerfully to make up for last night’s surliness.
“Oh man, it was so great,” he said as he waved away my cigarette smoke, “Your family is the best. Hey, I know this is weird, but is it okay if I text your mom? I just have some great jokes to send her. I know she’ll love them.”
I was about to answer when my phone rang. It was my mom. “Speak of the devil,” I said.
“Hey mom! How-” before I could finish my greeting she interrupted.
“We don’t like him anymore.”
I was confused, “What? What do you mean?”
“Ian. We don’t like him anymore,” she repeated. Her voice was oddly serious.
“I don’t . . . what . . . ” I stammered.
“Look honey. I don’t know how to say this so I guess I just gotta say it. He made out with Lorette. In Jacque’s bed. I guess they got really excited about karaoke.”
“Wait . . . are you serious?” I said.
“Yes, they were in there for a long time. Jacque fell asleep in the hall waiting for them to leave.”
My brain was a fog, my ears were buzzing. “Okay, I have to go now,” I hung up and lit another cigarette.
I looked at Ian; he was still smiling happily. “So uh . . . did you forget to tell me something about last night?”
His smile immediately faded. “She came on to me!” he blurted out.
“YOU MADE OUT WITH MY AUNT IN MY 7-YEAR-OLD SISTER’S BUNK BED? ON THANKSGIVING?” I yelled. I had forgotten that I was at work and there were about 50 other smokers huddled around me.
“We are officially broken up,” I hissed while I blinked back a few embarrassed tears.
He quickly walked inside and I called my brother.
‘YOU MADE OUT WITH MY AUNT IN MY 7-YEAR-OLD SISTER’S BUNK BED? ON THANKSGIVING?’
That was the last Thanksgiving with Lorette. She never admitted to making out with my boyfriend, but a few days after the incident a $500 check arrived in the mail from her. I cashed the fuck out of that check. Ian transferred out of my department and found himself working for my brother. They avoided eye contact until one day Aham arrived at work to find Ian sitting in his office, crying. He said he couldn’t handle the tension anymore, working for Aham after what he had done to me. He was so very sorry. Aham pointed out that he was apologizing to the wrong person.
“It was so weird,” Aham recounted to me that evening, “there was snot everywhere.”
We didn’t see much of Lorette until our cousin’s wedding last summer. I barely recognized her, the years had taken their toll, and she had died her hair a weird orangish blond that you unusually see on pictures of East African children suffering from severe malnutrition. We awkwardly said hello. But I looked at her and felt no bitterness. Sure, I lost a shitty boyfriend, but I gained $500 and a story I was still telling a decade later. I’m pretty sure I got the better end of the deal.
We made some small talk, shared some pictures, and then turned our focus to the wedding. My brother, who has always been far more diplomatic than me, struck up real conversation with Lorette. He told her about his music and his writing, he laughed at her jokes. And with every glass of wine she leaned in closer. I could see him leaning back at about the same pace. Finally Lorette’s boyfriend, who apparently had been keeping up with Lorette in drunkenness, wobbled over and sat next to Aham.
“What are your intentions, man?” he slurred at Aham.
“Uh . . . what?” my brother asked, confused.
“Oh honey . . . honey honey. This is my nephew, Aham,” Lorette interjected.
“Aaahhhh . . . ” he exhaled, confused. Then he nodded his head, “Ah, cool man. Don’t blame me. Gotta protect what’s mine, you know?”
“Heeyy . . . I think it’s time to go,” Aham said and quickly got up from his chair.
I got up to go at the same time. As we got to the door Aham’s fiancée asked what was going on.
“Oh my god I think that dude thought I was trying to fuck Lorette,” Aham gasped.
I laughed so loud I made a barking noise. Our sister Jacque walked up to see what was so funny.
“Jacque, we’re heading out,” I said, “Watch your boyfriend. Don’t let Lorette get him alone.”
A cloud of recognition passed over her face as she was taken back to what was surely a traumatizing moment for any 7-year-old, watching her big sister’s boyfriend make out with her aunt in her bed.
“I don’t know . . . ” she paused, “I could really use $500.”
This story first appeared at Medium.