So the other weekend my husband and I were up visiting my parents. As it happened, my grandparents were there at the same time, so in honor of the mini-family reunion, we decided to grill hamburgers and hot dogs out on the porch.
As we were waiting for the food to finish cooking, we chatted about various bits of neighborhood gossip, and then talked turned towards the past, and how our memories of the past tend to be more idealized than realistic.
“I guess we all think there’s a time in our past that’s better than where we are today, and that we’d rather be living then than now,” said my dad.
“No, not me,” my husband disagreed. “There’s no time in the past that is better than right now.”
“Oh, I don’t think so,” interjected my grandmother. “There are a lot of times in the past that I’d like to go back to.”
“Yes,” agreed my grandfather. “For one thing, there was a lot less crime back then, and the world was a much safer place.”
“Excuse me,” my mom interrupted, “but I think you’re forgetting about The Shooting.”
“Oh yeah, ” I said. I forgot about that.”
“Yes,” she continued, “there was a murder. In your very own home.”
(Very Important Side Note, So As To Prevent A Deluge Of Phone Calls By Angry Family Members: this did not involve my grandparents in any way, and was many years before they even lived there)
“Well, now” replied my grandfather, straightening up in his chair and pointing his finger at us, “there was a good reason for that.” (I don’t actually remember what that reason was, because by this time I was convulsing on the floor with laughter, but I think it had something to do with a love triangle.)
“The bad thing was,” he continued, “that he only had the one bullet. So he had to walk all the way down to the next town to get another bullet so that he could shoot himself.”
“Hm,” said my grandmother, still lost in thoughts of the past and determined to prove her point. (And, incidentally, the only one of us who still retained the power of speech.) “Yes,” she announced, visibly brightening. “At least the air was much fresher back then!”
After the rest of us had picked ourselves up off of the floor the conversation turned to other things, including a local man who lives on a nearby golf course and who is apparently worth, conservatively speaking, infinity billion dollars. So now, no longer bothered by the pesky worry of having to earn a living, he is free to turn his attention toward other, more important matters, like wading around in his swimming pool, fishing out all of the errant golf balls that end up in there.
“I guess he’s got so much money now that he just does whatever he wants and doesn’t care what other people think,” commented my grandfather.
“Oh,” I replied. “Well, I’ve just gone ahead and jumped straight to the ‘doing whatever I want’ part, without worrying about all that money stuff. It’s much more efficient that way.”
“So what you’re saying is that, even if you had all that money, you’d still fish the golf balls out of the pool yourself?” asked my husband.
“Heck no!” I snorted. “I’d hire someone for that and then watch them do it.”
“Well, as long as ‘the someone’ isn’t named ‘Paolo’, or, ‘Jose’, or anything like that,” said my husband.
“Oh, so no hot pool boys for me?”
“No, I’m afraid not.”
I thought for a moment. “Well, what about hot, gay pool boys?”
I never got to hear my husband’s response to that question, because it was at that moment that the conversation reached my mother, apparently having had to travel across a distortion in the space-time continuum first, because she exclaimed, “Hey, [name of male relative] has a Paolo!”
(Silence, as my father, my husband, and I all experience simaltaneous brain aneurysms.)
“Um, WHAT?!” one of us managed to choke out, feebly, knowing that the man in question is a very heterosexual, strait-laced accountant. Who, incidentally, does not own a pool
“Oh, yeah,” she said, happy to be a part of the conversation, and then she, my grandmother, and my grandfather began chatting amongst themselves. And it doesn’t even matter what they were saying, because TRUST ME ON THIS ONE; everything that comes after an exchange like that sounds dirty.
When oxygen began to return to my brain, I managed to pick up a tiny thread of the conversation, which sounded like the person in question was hired to assist with various and sundry accounting duties.
“Um, and does he perform them shirtless, with his rippling muscles glistening with oil?” I asked my mother, still not entirely sure that I understood what was going on.
“No,” she replied, confused as to why I should ask such a question, and apparently not yet noticing the three members of her family who were currently bleeding from the eyes.
And then, slowly, s-l-o-w-l-y, the pieces clicked for me.
“Oh,” I said. “You mean that [our relative] hired someone to help him with his accounting business, and his name really is Paolo.”
“Yes,” replied my mother, not wanting to say anything, but really wondering why the three of us were being so dense on the subject.
I’m sure there’s probably a moral in here somewhere, but honestly, the only one I’ve been able to come up with is, ‘Dammit! Why do I never have my tape recorder when I need it?!”