Aunt Sue tries to be a good Aunt. By this time she has long left the migrant worker’s shack by the freeway and moved up to L.A. and married this Italian guy who worked cutting meat in a meat packing plant. And they are both by this time somewhat along in years and he is Catholic and already has a bunch of kids and his wife had died, so he married Aunt Sue. Or she married him because she always wanted a family, but mostly they were older in high school or already out of the house and they mostly resented her. But she was a good cook and an economical housewife and pretty much filled the bill wife-wise.
When I am in college a couple of months, she actually shows up at the dorm and says she has come to get my dirty clothes to wash them for me. I am amazed but she is right; it’s been a couple of months and I have failed to wash my clothes. So I go with her with the clothes and visit while she washes the clothes. I don’t know what we talked about since she couldn’t stand my mother and so didn’t say a word about her, though she did praise my father to high heavens, lord knows what for, unless it was having the fortitude to live with my mother.
One time I don’t know when it was exactly, I go to her place for a visit and my good buddy, Richard, is with me. He is a real smart guy who started out pre-med and then joined the horde of ex-pre-meds and became an English major. He grew up in Lubbock TX where Buddy Holly came from and so we had the southern thing going, plus he was pretty much working class, his father having returned from the war not the same and ended up doing all sorts of jobs. I think maybe he drank too and he died while we were in college.
So Aunt Sue says she is going to fix some dinner for us, and she treats us like royalty and takes us out to the back patio, and offers us beer, and after a while, she brings out the plates that are like completely covered with a steak. The plate is like hardly visible beneath that steak, and it’s called a t-bone steak because it has a bone shaped like a T in it and I do believe it was the biggest piece of meat on one plate I had seen to that date. I remember thinking, damn! But this is a big piece of meat.
I guess that’s why I remember it. Nobody had ever given me a piece of meat that size before. I ate all of it. And with it came a dinky salad and a bowl of jello. Aunt Sue had this thing about jello; she served it at every dinner. Somewhere on the table there would be some manner of jello. And every time, she served it she would say like clock work that jello would help your blood to clot faster should you cut yourself. I don’t know where she got that from, but it was a bit spooky because you got the feeling she was sitting around waiting for one of her family to cut themselves real bad and bleed out before their blood could clot.