dan tells a story about an old lady named Ruth

Many years ago (I mean, like, ten years ago…not like earth-bursting-with-lava many years ago), my sister got engaged. She has since married and had two beautiful children as beautiful and lovely as she is. But, as happens with marriages, she got engaged first. That is the story I am here to tell today. Sidebar of eventual importance: at the time, my unremittingly feminine sister had something of a choppy, trendy, short-ish haircut. It killed. People loved it.

Meanwhile, in another corner of Long Island, my grandfather had died several years earlier. And the saddest part about his passing is that it was merely a device in order to further the narrative of this story. Anyway, my grandmother had a female friend named Ruth (no names have been changed in this story, because old people think computers take up whole rooms or are strictly for “Atari-loving whippersnappers,” so they’ve never heard of pamie.com and they’re not reading this right now. No offense, Pamie) who had a husband named Lester (and a story isn’t a story without an old man named Lester) who my grandfather, an amazing judge of character himself, hated hated hated. Ruth was strident and loud; Lester seemed more the quiet neighbor with an ambiguous bicycle shop in the back of his fake-wood-paneled-basement. The kind of people my grandfather would take pains to keep us away from. Hence, Ruth and Lester would never be invited to any parties or events, and my grandmother would have to chill with Ruth on the sly. It wasn’t until after my grandfather passed away that Ruth and Lester started sneaking into the fold, appearing at parties we’re not sure they were invited to and taking the last piece of rye bread at family functions even through I don’t think they’re family. It got to the point where they would show up early at family functions to “help” set up. And so it was for the day of my sister’s engagement party, held on the lawn behind my mother’s house.

My sister, sleeping in the bedroom she grew up in and wearing the clothes she slept in when she was sixteen, woke up early on the day of the party, seeing as it was to take place 50% in her honor. She stumbled down the hallway wearing plaid pajama pants and an orange sweatshirt reading “Birchmont,” heading toward the salvation of the fresh bagels and the pink plastic cup of dry Cheerios poised to meet her for breakfast. But on her seemingly innocuous journey from bedroom to kitchen, she was stopped in her tracks by the aforementioned Ruth. My sister stared in horror. She was born ready to face the barbed running commentary of a Jewish grandmother judging her aesthetic appearance, but you’d better make damned sure that it was HER Jewish grandmother who was there to do the judging.

Ruth looked at my sister. My sister looked at Ruth. Ruth looked at my sister. Ruth spoke:

“You’re the bride? YOU’RE THE BRIDE? Honey, that’s something. I looked at you from down the hall, and, well. I thought you were a little boy.”

On the day of her engagement party. When she had to look and feel her prettiest. In front of a lot of people. All day. I thought you were a little boy.

Anyway. Lester was probably excited about the “little boy” part of the story, but otherwise he didn’t figure in again.

People know better than to snark about how I look. Or perhaps my numerous television appearances have been so short, sporadic, and subliminally “Mystery Oldie” that no one’s been able to adequately quantify my physical shortcomings. Also, the nose job really helped.

That’s a parable about how much Pamie rocks.

Currently in love with Running with Scissors.

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