“We are two generations of sisters!,” my mother sing-songed to one of the good ole fashioned South Carolinian gents, who stopped to say “hello” to the “out-of-towners,” as we all sat outside of a small restaurant in Beaufort. The waitresses, all for some reason dressed like nurses, scurried over to explain to us that our food would take much longer than expected, due to the late truck delivery. With that, I began to swat flies out of my face and put on my bored look.
It was true though. Between Jane, Carol, my mother, my sister and me, we did span two generations. There was a decade between the older women, who were all in their 50s and 60s now; and just two years between my sister and me – thirty between us and them, altogether. We all looked similar, too, each with dark hair and eyes, similar complexions and noses.
Jane sat to the left of me. She anxiously held her sweater close to her shoulders and talked about how much she enjoyed moving to South Carolina and the numerous antique shops in the area. A “nervous nelly” as we called her – both affectionately and entirely unaffectionately – she worried constantly over her sick dog, Caesar. So many of her sentences began with, “After Caesar,” that I began referring to the future as “A.C.” Jane, a self-righteous Catholic, who believed in the death penalty (I think Scott Peterson should fry!), didn’t find that funny.
Carol, who sat across from her, was blowing smoke out of her nostrils from her fourth cigarette during lunch. All fire-breathing dragon clichés aside, Carol was always bitter, angry and blunt. As her face sagged down to reach the cigarette near her lip, she wondered aloud if she should move to South Carolina too.
“Jersey and New York are just so fast-paced and RUDE,” she said. “I mean, even look at how we are portrayed on television -- the Sopranos are fat, angry slobs and the girls on Sex and the City are all sluts.” She never had anything nice to say, so she abruptly ended with, “Though I am sure there are much prettier places to live than here.” Jane indignantly tried to defend her new home state, but it was no use.
My mother, who sat next to Carol, ended her conversation with the man who came up to her, and promptly took a cigarette from Carol’s pack and ordered a glass of wine. I could tell she was frazzled from trying to keep everyone together and getting along. My sister took after her in that way – they always wanted to have everything wrapped up in a little package with a pretty pink bow. Sometimes I thought it pathetic; other times, I thought it was both sweet and sad. My mother was actively criticizing everyone in her head for being so difficult, but wouldn’t say that out loud. Instead she repeated, “We are two generations of sisters!”
No one responded. With that, the television announcer said something about Michael Jackson that got all of our attention. Carol, Jane and my mother began to discuss the trial, and pretty soon, an argument ensued between the three of them about his guilt or innocence.
My sister leaned close to me and whispered, “Jessy, how do you say ‘nightmare’ in Spanish?”
I responded, “I have no idea.”
Vanessa retorted, “You idiot.”
I found it hard to believe that she would call me an idiot when she was the Spanish teacher and I told her so, then I asked why she needed to know anyway.
“Because,” she said slowly, swatting a fly from her face and reaching up for a low-hanging Spanish moss tree, “this right here, right now, is my own, personal nightmare.”
With that, I began to laugh so hard that my head and stomach began to hurt. In the background, the other three sisters were still bickering about the trials and tribulations of the Jackson family.
Ahhh, yes, I thought – two generations of sisters, indeed.