birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

Night of the Macaroni and Cheese

(As told to me recently by a friend contemplating her upcoming beach trip with her husband’s family.)

Every year for the last four years we get a house on the beach. And every year we invite my husband’s alcoholic brother and his bitch wife to go in with us and get a house. And every year for the last four years they have said no, they can’t afford it. And every year for the last four years they show up anyway.

“Oh, we’ll stay with Penny,” my bitch sister-in-law says. They stay with Penny the first night, sure, but she’s thirty minutes away from the beach, so they end up at our place, eating and drinking and partying and of course they can’t drive home. Last year my own children had to sleep on the floor because she and Russel had to sleep on the couches. And then she has the nerve to complain that she wishes she could’ve had her own room. The couches were so uncomfortable. I shot back, “Well I wish you had contributed to us getting a bigger house!”

It’s not just that either. My niece, the one I ended up raising since she was 13, hates her. But she has a sister, my other niece Bethany. Bethany’s 22 now and has a job. And every payday, my bitch sister-in-law calls her and says, “Oh Bethany, we don’t spend enough time together. Let’s go out to eat!” So they do, and then she whines that she doesn’t have any money so Bethany gets stuck with the tab.

A few years ago they pulled this as usual and we had a smaller house so they ended up on the air mattress on the floor. It was the only common room in the house. Usually we stay up and have fun, play poker, hang out. But my bitch sister-in-law announced she was going to bed and shooed us all out. Then she complained about how uncomfortable it was and how little sleep she got. Michael’s eighty something year old parents offered to give them their room. That night Bertha and Ron ended up on the air mattress and she and Russel took the master bedroom! Can you even imagine? I had no idea. When I woke up and saw my eighty year old in-laws on the air mattress I was furious.

I don’t know. Maybe we should just go on and get a bigger house and expect them. It’s not like they’re going to change. I don’t know. I feel bad. I think Michael’s cousin enjoys watching us fight. Takes bets on who’s going to say the first snide remark, or how long it’s going to take me to lose my cool. Really I don’t lose my cool. Well, I did one time. That time I almost killed her.

We have this deal worked out where every night we take turns being responsible for dinner. Well, Russel and my bitch sister-in-law don’t because they always say they aren’t coming. So they contribute nothing. Nothing. They eat the food, they drink the beer, they use the sheets and towels, they sleep on the only available surfaces, and they contribute nothing. Anyway it was our turn to provide the meal, and I Michael made ribs and other things and I made a pan of macaroni and cheese. Dinner was almost over when my bitch sister-in-law looks up, without getting her own fat ass off the couch, and says to everyone, “Thanks a lot! Y’all didn’t save my child one bite of macaroni and cheese!” And then everyone looked at me. I told you I think they take bets.

I didn’t say a word.

Then I saw Michael out of the corner of my eye. He had a nice serving of macaroni and cheese on his plate. He was making the slightest movement but I caught him. I leaned down in his face and said, “I swear to God if you give her one single bite of your macaroni and cheese I will leave you, and I mean it. Don’t you dare.”

He sat back and nobody moved.

In the end her poor kid didn’t get any macaroni and cheese. I swear to God, I thought I was going to kill my bitch sister-in law-over some macaroni and cheese.

Onward and Upward