Denial at Dinner
By the time I reached high school I was a good student, though having dyslexia and a troubled home I tried. This wasn't always the case, given my socially lacking nature and my lacking grades I was placed in a class for troubled students with behavior issues in early middle school. Mostly aggressive in nature were all of these personalities that surrounded me and there I was shy and awkward with no real place to fit in.
My mother would give me my sister's handy-downs. The transition from my sister's body to me should have been called inflation. My sister was skinny and delicate, she looked like the girls you would see modeling on PB Teen or Limited 2. I was a chunky girl always placed on a diet, always waiting for it to work.
Looking back I can see everyone in our household suffered a sort of denial. My mom was completely oblivious that dressing me up in my sister's hot pink t-shirt and tight jeans would synch and mold my extra fat into the most unattractive form. The waistline of her jeans often ripped into my stomach, forcing all the fat there to hang over. An everlasting wedgie and camel-toe haunted me. Every crease of my body was in pain and normally suffering some kind of rash. During this particular stage in my life my mother had taken to Iron-on bedazzlement of all my clothing. I pretty much walked around looking like a deformed highlighter with disco bling. I transmitted a strange odor because according to my mother I was not yet old enough to wear deodorant. Same went for wearing a training bra or shaving.
My father would come home after a long day at work around 7 or 9 PM. Mother often made us wait to consume our food till he made it back. I would be reprimanded if I were to consume a snack after I got back from school, after all I was on a diet and should wait. "Jess, Dani! Supper!" My mother would always yell before swallowing her pills for the night with a gulp of water. My sister and I would seat ourselves in front of our dishes that weren't to be touched. If Wheel-of-Fortune was on and my dad came home it was relatively early. If Jeopardy was on and my dad came home it was pretty normal time but depending on what round the food maybe cold. That's ok he'll microwave it for me. If Who Wants to be a Millionaire is on then my mom normally would mumble "come on, where are you." At that point we had very reluctant permission to eat without him. Dani and I quickly learned to bring our homework to the table, even that was a delicate balance of being able to set the table in case Dad was early and us waiting for him if he wasn't.
I was so relieved when my dad came home that I could barely wait for him to get settled. I was starving. "Put the coke back in the fridge, I don't want it on the table." My mom would say with a most annoyed expression. Soda. My dad could and would consume a whole two liter at the dinner table, and often start the next one in the same night. He continuously filled my glass too, pretty soon I was addicted. "I'm gonna fill my glass pretty soon, so why should I?" He'd ask, baffled. By the end of the night my Dad would have to unlock his belt to let there be room for all the carbonation and food in his belly. The top button on my sister's old pants would try so hard to stay linked to the loop but the second I bent down it would be undone, no big deal anyway it was time for PJs.
In high school my dad's schedule was more regulated, I had lost my baby fat, and my sister had gotten me a job at a craft store. Things were better between her and I, but the family remained as strange as ever. It was the dawn of cell phones and my sister and I would text what was gonna be said at the dinner table next and laugh when it happened. On this particular night no one could have predicted the ketchup fight. "There is ketchup on my hot dog." My dad spat out appalled. "who did this!" I giggled at the sheer ridiculousness of the accusation and Dani followed. My Dad's face got red and hot before pointing a finger at me and screaming "You!" In the background I could hear my mom saying "What are you talking about I don't see any ketchup, what that dot? That's probably a pepper from relish." He kept his finger in my face and barked back at her " There are no red peppers in relish." Understand that at this time I feel as if I am getting punked. Surely this is not real life so I continue to laugh not realizing this will escalate his impending anger. My sister, in the same mind set I am, goes "Dad why on earth would Jess do that." He narrowed his eyes on her, my mom is now inspecting his hot dog with her reading glasses. "You're in on this too." He has redirected his finger at my sister and humor is drained into the reality of his anger, I cease laughing. "You two have been on your phones plotting this." Dani and I are terrified. We have seen this level of anger before and we know how this ends. My mother's voice Breaks through the silence, she is now holding the relish container. "There are red peppers in this one, look!" My dad's eyes slowly become less dilated and we are out of the red zone.