Standing in the kitchen, clutching a glass of wine for dear life, I’m watching a whole lot of things happen all at once. Daria runs through the kitchen, never missing a beat in the conversation she and I are having while keeping tabs on her son and humoring Miss Fifi, who I’m sure is grafted to Daria’s hip. Mom is supervising as she and Dara boil water for angel hair pasta. Each family group bought out a Costco: on every surface in the giant kitchen someone has shoved things aside and made piles of cookies, breads, crackers, pasta. There is a whole counter covered with hot dog and hamburger rolls and Portuguese muffins. The four little boys run from room to room in spite of the chorus of voices shouting, “Don’t run! Go outside!” Dan quietly feeds Miss Gigi in the dining room. Anya and Corinne pour wine and sort out disputes between the little boys and the teenage girls. Lois and Dara have a room at the end of the hall upstairs, next to mine. The little boys aren’t used to being separated from Lois at least and don’t understand why Corinne tells them to stay out of the girls’ room. Tippecanoe in particular seems crestfallen that he can’t play in his sister’s room. I give my sisters credit. It’s so loud I can’t think, and I can’t figure out why Dara is tossing butter with a giant mound of angel hair while Daria says, “Mantequilla aqui!” and I say, “Use the Italian cognate,” and Mom puts the whole thing on a back burner. Later, it will require four people to portion out the room temperature pasta for Tippecanoe, Tyler Too, Sandro and Ezekiel.
I can’t explain any of this. I look like the statue in the middle of a traffic circle while cars buzz by – a very glamorous statue with vibrant red hair. My discomfort with all the noise is not a secret.
Tata: Too many people talking –
Daria: Shut up! Are not! What a wuss!
Anya: Ezekiel, sit down at the table –
Corinne: Tippecanoe, did you wash your hands?
Mom: If I say beurre, is that more helpful?
Daria: It’s a romance language! She should be able to pick it up.
Lois: What kind of vegetable are we having?
Mom: Domenica, we have broccoli and asparagus. Tyler will grill or we can microwave.
Tata: Let’s microwave the asparagus, if no one minds.
Daria: Have you seen the chicken?
Daria: Dara and I made it by accident and it was GREAT!
Tata: I’m sure it is…what is it?
Daria: Two nights ago, Dara and I sauteed some chicken breasts, then threw on some red peppers, tossed on some mozzarella and painted up the whole thing with pesto. We didn’t even make it to the table. I was like, “Sorry I can’t stop shoveling this delicious chicken in my mouth long enough to make conversation but -” and she was like, “That’s okay, I can’t stop shoveling either.”
Tata: That sounds very delicious. Or like hypnosis –
Mom: I believed her. Note the large number of trays ready to go into the broiler.
Daria: And the pesto any one of us would drink through a straw.
Tata: Yep, and ever since I gave up Hollandaise a la mode –
Tata: It went better over ice cream than in Italian dessert sodas.
Tata: Mine is a different concept of dessert. Not for me the tooth-rotting sweetness, no! I want the salty and unbelievably fattening gravies and sauces. Preferably in a nice glass with a soup spoon.
Mom: I believe you, too.
Daria: Will you shut up, already?
Tata: What? Mom believes me!
Daria: She’s lying, Mom!
Anya: Does everybody have a bowl of buttery pasta and a little boy to feed?
Tata: Mom, I am so glad I only had one child and she’s old enough to cut her own angel hair –
Daria: Oh, good, Miss Mouth. You can cut Sandro’s.
One of these days, I am going to learn when to express gratitude and when to shut my trap. I cut up buttery angel hair wondering if our plan to subdue the four little boys is to starve their brains of protein until they just think they’re running around the house – and why am I cutting angel hair? Isn’t it small enough that the whole noodle can easily fit through the tiny nose of the average laughing little boy?