The MIL sometimes, without warning, gets mean when she’s in fine fettle. She’ll be stewing some hideous onions,
singing a merry show tune and swishing her sweatpants about like a big hoop skirt. You make a comment about the onions, such as "Yum! What a fine scent!" And she might turn on you like a wolverine, missing teeth bared, and remark that the last time you ate her hideous onions, you didn’t ask for second helping. You don’t really like her onions, do you? Do you?! You back away in horror, protesting love of onions, but it’s too late.
This is nothing compared to when the MIL is ill. Because my kids are veritable germ factories, they bring home all sorts of foul poxes and diseases from their elementary school in Larchmont, including the shakes, dropsy, the squirts, the vomits, and the galloping ab-dabs. Every germ they bring into the house is immediately contracted by the MIL. Although when my dear husband was a sick child she used to tell him to "stop whining and get over it," she fails to stop whining and get over it. Instead, she moans, groans, lowers the shuffling to a sedate .246 miles per hour, and checks the calendar repeatedly to see when child # 1 became ill and recovered so that she can time the progress of the Deadly Ailment.
The last ailment had the MIL stricken for about 2 1/2 months. She contracted the squirts, the shakes, the fever. Days went by when I wondered if she might have died in her room, so little was she seen. Then she’d stagger out, mumbling that she had horrible sores all over her palate and tongue and couldn’t eat a thing but a boiled egg. Concerned, I suggested she see a doctor. She recoiled as if I had handed her a live cobra. "I knew you’d say that!" she hissed in a venomous tone, slithering away. I don’t know about you, but I rather like doctors. They sometimes give one medicine, and soothe one’s ills.
The illness went on, and so did her sighs and loud groans. She boiled her wretched rice and eggs, and the pots would always boil over and leave detritus on the stove, and she would never clean it up. The timer would jingle and she’d shuffle down in a stupor, complaining like a metronome. She cooked Thanksgiving dinner, which was awfully big of her, but snapped at the kids while she did so–including an announcement that "children never tell the cook what to do!" I was not welcome in my own kitchen during the Big Cooking Event, so I skulked away and gnawed on my own spleen. She served the dinner and then came down with an explosive bout of diarrhea (see MIL
Dearest: Chapter Two) and retired to her room.
Then, one day, as she sat and ate her first proper breakfast in weeks (cooked by dear husband), she snapped. The baby gave a loud and happy shriek, as babies do. MIL recoiled and stiffened. She snapped at eldest child to stop tormenting his brother, even though the little mite had done nothing. But "eldest child" is an evil imp, and he sensed fun. So he pulled a face at the baby, who gave a very loud and very happy shriek of delight.
That was it for the MIL! She slammed her plate of eggs on the table, and, cursing and muttering, stompled up the stairs. I sat there for about two minutes, contemplating the situation. Yes, she would have to leave. Leave, very soon. What I then said to her, Dear Reader, will have to wait until the next installment.
Next up: I am intolerably rude to the MIL, and she challenges me to engage in rapier-like wordplay! Plus: Her finance career takes off with yet another online course costing thousands of dollars.