Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Mini Unit

One weekend every year, The Mini-Unit travels somewhere together and this February, we bused from Boston to New York City. The Mini-Unit consists of my two sisters, my mother and me (The Unit is my mother, her four sisters and their mother, my grandmother).

"Mom, why did you name it The Unit?"

"'Cause we're the unit, you know...the unit!"

"Well, a unit often refers to a penis, which is something none of us have."

During this two day trip, we are
classified alcoholics; full blown caffeine addicts; laughing gas junkies; preschool psychics painting predictions of our evolving futures; creepy old men, farting in elevators and photographing naked sculptures; serious psychologists; beauty school experts; knee socked nerds; vulgar dinner dates. We are little girls fighting for Mom's attention.

"Your father would kill me if he knew what we were talking about." 

"I still don't see what all the hype is about." 

"You're in your happy place, aren't you?"

"I can't believe we're having this conversation!"

On our second night, we take Mom to see a Broadway musical for her birthday. Afterward, we walk to the Olive Garden in Times Square. We sit in a red booth on the third floor, open our menus and find that they are decorated with pictures, prices and the calorie counts of every meal, drink and dessert. Entrees range from 300 calories to 1,400 calories. I choose a "light" meal (a commitment of only 330 calories), afraid I might otherwise die of heart disease before leaving New York the following morning. But when the 330 calories arrive, I notice immediately that the dish of pink, runny apricot jelly sauce drizzled over chicken breasts, steamed broccoli and asparagus, smells strangely familiar. "My dinner smells like vagina." I announce, pleased to have pinpointed the clammy stench. My sister has ordered the same. And apparently, her vagina doesn't smell like my vagina, because she defends the dinner and devours it.

When the young male waiter asks how everything is, I say good and smile, unable to tell him what I really think because my pre-show white wine has faded to fatigue and my bottle of beer is only half drunk. Eventually I scrape off the smelly jelly and convince myself to eat half of the $17.99 meal.

"I don't want to go back to real life." We all say over and over, while knowing full well that two and a half days is probably the safest amount of time to spend together in a small hotel room with only two double beds and one bathroom.

"I didn't get to my happy place until my thirties! This doesn't leave this trip."

"Rachel, you CAN'T write about this."