We are family….

As many of you are aware, my husband comes from an…INTERESTING family.  He says he grew up in a “normal home,” but some may use words/phrases like:  Asylum or Booby-Hatchery.  His parents and family constantly tell me that “Tony was left on the door step by gypsies.”

Tony’s REAL Mom

And I have to agree because Tony’s immediate family (I absolutely adore his cousins, so I’m not talking about them here) belong in straight jackets.  I’m not going to go into great detail about all members of the family because, frankly, I’m not in the mood to rewrite the “The Encyclopedia of Psychology and Psychosis.”  But we did just have a visit from my sister in law and, as you can imagine, I have some good material.   For these purposes we will call her: Sybil.

Sybil decided to come for a 10 day visit.  Which, in my opinion, was 9.5 days too long.  Don’t get me wrong, she is my husband’s sister and he loves her, and I do care for Sybil, but she is a few sandwiches short of a picnic.  She fell out of the crazy tree and hit every limb on the way down… twice.   In Sybil’s defense, she has some medical issues, she doesn’t hear well and has some vision and balance problems.  But there is a whole plethora of other issues not related to her maladies – these are the issues to which I am referring.

Sybil arrived on an British Airways flight from London.  Except the flight was being operated by American Airlines.  She neglected to give us this information.  Thus Tony was waiting at the incorrect terminal.

Sybil arrived and asked for a cocktail.  We made her a Cosmopolitan which she immediately spilled on my living room carpet.


In general, Sybil constantly appears to be on the verge of falling.


It’s nerve-wracking for those of us that surround her.  I feel like the Secret Service, I never know when I will need to spring into action.

I had prepared dinner for Sybil’s arrival.  Spaghetti and meatballs with garlic bread.  She immediately fed a piece of garlic bread to each dog- which shall, from here on out be referred to Canineocide Attempt #1.

Yes, garlic can kill dogs.  Sybil then began to hack the spaghetti and meatballs into a fine MUSH.  I thought she was trying to “cut” the meatball, so I got up and got her a knife and said “Here is a knife to help you cut that.”  She ignored said knife and continued to hack away at her meal.

Bon Appetit

The following day, I am getting out of the shower and hear some noise in the hallway, thinking it’s one of the dogs, possibly in a death throw from the garlic bread, I peek around the corner and see nothing.  The door to Sybil’s room is closed, so I assume she cannot be the source of the noise. Then I see the dogs run out of our bedroom, running toward the noise (so it couldn’t have been one of them).  I hear the noise again.  As I was wearing only a towel, I didn’t want to venture too far.  But I look again.  Nothing there. Finally I look around the corner and Sybil is standing in the stairwell “hiding.”  (in plain sight)  “Oh, I didn’t know you would be awake.”  Sybil said.  NOTE: the previous evening we discussed, at great length, the time that I would be awake in the morning.  None of it registered, apparently.

There is a little area outside of Sybil’s room that has a bunch of Wizard of Oz memorabilia.  I wore “ruby slippers” under my wedding dress, I love the movie and have little tchotchkes on a book shelf in the hallway.  One of them is a tin sign replica of this:

I dressed for work and Sybil was standing in front of the tin sign and said “Eh, Christine, where did you get this sign?”  Foolish me, I thought she wanted to know where I got the sign.
I replied “Oh, I don’t remember, probably on Ebay.”
Sybil asked “Is it real?”
“No, it’s a replica.” I said
“Is there really a haunted forest nearby?”
“No, not that I am aware of.” I said
“Oh, we have, in the UK, The Blair Witch.” Sybil stated
“We have that here too- but it’s just a movie.”  I said
“Oh no, it’s real.” Sybil said as I slinked down the stairs and off to work.

That evening we decided to go to a famous grocery store nearby- they have, like, all kinds of crap that people love.  Robots and little shows and a petting zoo.  In the store, Sybil was putting stuff into our cart right and left, including a birthday cake for her brother.  I tried to explain to her that I was getting a big cake for his birthday party, but Sybil insisted on getting this cake for her brother- that ironically, her brother wound up PAYING for and was a type of cake Tony doesn’t even eat.  She got croissants and watermelon and sour cream and onion potato chips.  She did, however, buy herself some Rice Krispies, but we paid for the rest of her stuff.  We were ok with this, but why she INSISTED on buying her own cereal, I don’t know.

While there, I bought some Lobsters.  I checked with Sybil prior to make sure she EATS lobster.  She does.  In theory.  More on this later.

While Tony went to get the car, Sybil and I walked over to the petting zoo.  The animals there are fine.  They are well fed and treated well, but Sybil was worried about them being outside all night.  There are shelters for each animal within’ the zoo.  There are two pygmy goats there and they can have an odd-bulbous shape.

Pregnant Male Pygmy Goat

Sybil INSISTED that the gray one HAD to be pregnant.  I informed her that HE was a BOY and thus, couldn’t be pregnant.  But Sybil insisted.  The sign even SAID that they grey one was a boy, but Sybil could not be dissuaded.  She insisted that he was a pregnant she.

The next day, Saint Tony took his sister into New York City.  Accordingly, Mayor Bloomberg raised the threat level to ORANGE.

Tony took her to Time Square, Top of the Rock and to take a boat ride on one of the high speed boats that go around Manhattan.  Two hours into his trip, Tony texted me saying:  “Kill me.  Lay me to rest when I get home.”  Uh oh.

In NYC Sybil was trying to strike up conversations with people, and, of course, she can’t HEAR it when they are telling her to “f*ck off.”  Trying to have her picture taken with the NYPD officers on the street- while they are chasing a perp.  She even give the security guard at the Top of the Rock pointers on how to improve the venue- by cutting a hole in the deck so visitors can see through the floor to the ground.  Sybil is now on the NYPD Terrorist Watch List.

Of course, Sybil needed to get souvenirs.  She needed hats and T-shirts and bags and magnets, every piece of crap known to man.  She got a shirt with NYC subway map on it.

She thought the subway lines were the streets.  She bought touristy T shirts and “Ed Hardy” type NY hats.

While they were in the city, I made a beautiful lobster salad.  It was a green salad with big chunks of butter poached lobster tossed in.  There were tomatoes and corn in there too, lightly dressed- perfect for a hot summer day.  But then I made the mistake.  I made the grievous error of putting 3 very thin rings of red onion on top.


ONLY on top, not mixed in with the salad.  I also poured 3 glasses of Sauvignon Blanc- perfect pairing for this salad.

We sit down at the table and we are treated to “the face.”

The Face

What?  WHAT???  The onions.  The 3, easily removed, little slices of onion are the problem.  But removing them isn’t sufficient.  She can’t eat the salad.  And she can’t drink the wine either.  It all will make her sick.  She pushed her chair back from the table and walked away.

Trust me- pitbulls LOVE lobster AND wine- especially mine.

Where are we?  Friday?  Sybil opened her bag of Sour Cream and Onion Potato Chips and was feeding them to the dogs.

Hereafter referred to as Canineocide Attempt #2. At this point, the dogs LOVE Aunt Sybil.  They, clearly, have Stockholm Syndrome.  I, thankfully, worked a half day and decided to take Sybil off of Tony’s hands for a few hours.  So I enlisted the help of my best friend, Rin.  Rin has the patience of a saint, which are necessary in this situation.  We decided to take Sybil to “The Taco Trucks” in New Haven.  Rin and I are completely obsessed so it was more about feeding our jones than about entertaining Sybil.  At “the trucks” Rin and I like to get pork tacos at each truck (or as many trucks as we can hit before we puke), but when we suggested a pork taco….that’s right, we got “the face.”


Ok, ok, Chicken- Sybil will try chicken.  The meat is marinated and normally is topped with onion and cilantro.  Knowing our experience with onions, I told the guy “Chicken Taco- PLAIN”

Remove everything that looks good from the top of this and that’s what Sybil ate.  She LIKED it!!!  But she kept saying how “spicy” it was.  It wasn’t spicy at all.  (Bear in mind, her brother orders the HOTTEST curry in the US and it still isn’t hot enough for him.)  Remarkably, Sybil ate three tacos, and was happy.  Although she did want to know why everyone at “the trucks” came in a mini-van with 15-20 of their friends.

When we returned from “the trucks,” I made the mistake of offering Sybil a cup of tea.  In fact, I made a cup for all of us.  I drank mine. Tony drank his.  Rin drank hers and Sybil dumped hers on the couch.

But it’s ok, she got up to make herself another cup… of coffee.  So she had a cup of tea mixed with coffee, which she deemed to be “Lovely.”  #new@starbucks

Saturday was Tony’s birthday and we had a few of his friends over.  We had a major catering snafu (in that the caterer didn’t show up and says they never “got” the order… yes, I know I’m a chef- why am I hiring a caterer?!?!  Because a) I knew I was already going to be stressed over Sybil and surrounding BS and b) Tony wanted me to actually ENJOY a party for a change.) and people drank WAY too much.  Sybil was wandering around in her “I Love NY” T shirt looking like something that Time Square threw up.

Besides the catering issue, I had another major problem.  Every time I turned around, my drink was GONE.  And the glass I had been drinking from (a unique tall, skinny glass with dogs on it) was empty and in the sink.  I was like… WTF?!?!!?  I thought someone was playing a joke on me.

Finally, I see Sybil drinking MY drink.  She denied it was my drink.  I had, purposely, given her a sturdy glass- a thick-walled pint glass.  She was drinking out of my “dog glass.”  She had been making herself a drink (rum and diet coke) in her pint glass, but then drinking MY drink (vodka and diet coke) and then dumping it down the drain because it “tasted funny.”  Then miraculously FINDING her correct drink and drinking that.  She then complained to me about how badly her stomach hurt from MY drink.

So Sunday, sweet Sunday… the day of hangovers.  While Tony slept, I tried to wrangle Sybil.  She insists on closing every door in the house except, of course, the door that actually matters- the one to the OUTSIDE while the A/C is on.  If I closed the back door once, I closed it ten times.  She just would walk in or out and leave the door wide open.  So, if temperatures in Bridgeport were slightly cooler on Sunday, it’s due out our A/C cooling the entire city.  You’re welcome.

Oh! The weather.  Everyday “Why is it so hot?”  “Another hot day!”  Yes, Sybil, IT’S SUMMER, THIS IS THE WEATHER HERE.  She never grasped why each day was hot.

On Monday, Tony had to work so Sybil was left to her own devices.  She, trying to be helpful, attempted to organize our spare room.  Our spare room is constantly in a ridiculous state of overflowing laundry baskets of clean laundry.  It’s terrible.  The only thing Tony and I hate more than doing laundry is putting it away.  So we don’t.  We just sift through the clean clothes, in this room, for our clothes.  It’s our non-system.  Is it embarrassing that we handle our laundry like this?  Yup.  Are we embarrassed enough to change?  Nope.  Regardless, Sybil was going to organize everything for us.  So now we have multiple laundry baskets of clean clothes sorted nonsensically according to which clothes she THINKS belong to which person.  It’s a fustercluck.  Even worse than it was before.  Tony will pull out what he thinks is boxer shorts and it’s one of my skirts.  I’ll pull out what I think is a t-shirt and it’s Tony’s bathing suit.  Neither of us can find a thing.  Big help, Sybil. I know she had good intentions. Jack The Ripper probably had good intentions too, he was probably just looking to meet some new people.

Monday evening we decided to go out for dinner. We thought we would take Sybil out for Hibachi.

Knowing Sybil had never had food cooked on a Teppanyaki, we thought we would take her out for a treat. We sit down a the Teppanyaki table and begin to look at the menu. I ask “Sybil, what would you like to have?”

“Yeahhh, I will have this chicken salad.” Sybil replies

“You aren’t having Hibachi?” Tony asked

And here comes “the face.”


“Neah. I don’t like it.” Sybil said

“You’ve never had it.” Tony said

“I’m not havin’ it.” Sybil said “I’ll have this nice chicken salad.”

Beginning to lose it I say “Then why did we even come here??? Tony and I can have Hibachi anytime!”

“I am not havin’ it and you can’t make me.” Sybil said.

“Fine, don’t have it. Don’t enjoy a beautiful meal. Get a salad with grilled chicken on top.” Tony said.

“I will only eat COOKED food.” Sybil said.


Finally, Sybil did us a BIG favor and consented to get Hibachi Chicken, but we were reminded repeatedly that she “did it for us.” Sybil thought “hibachi” meant “sushi” which, by the way, she’s never tried either.

In the end, Sybil thought Hibachi was “lovely,” but this illustrates how difficult Sybil is… with everything.

When we arrived home, I offered Sybil a chocolate chip cookie. I said to her “Sybil, DO NOT give the dogs any of this cookie.”

“Ok.” Sybil said.

Two seconds later she gave Javvy half of her chocolate chip cookie. Canineocide Attempt #3.

We met.  Sooner than expected.  Sybil must be visiting.



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