Dear Aunty P,
Boy, am I in the dog house. My wife is mad at me and my mother is crying and won’t even take my calls.
My mother came to stay with us for Christmas and she was looking around the house and said, “What happened to the painting of the little girl in the hat holding the bouquet?” I said, “Oh, we finally got rid of that stupid thing at a church yard sale a few years ago,” totally forgetting that she’d given it to us as a wedding gift.
My wife said, “You idiot,” and my mom burst into tears and stayed in the guest room the rest of the day and refused to talk to me the rest of her stay.
What can I do? I’m getting tired of Alpo.
First of all, you pinecone, it’s Aunty Pam, not Aunty P. You don’t know me well enough to begin mutilating my name for your convenience, Biff.
Secondly, to be honest, your letter made me laugh out loud because it’s exactly the sort of thing I’ve done, or would have done, and so I curled my toes in the most delicious way, grimacing, as it was you getting busted over your honesty and not me. Thanks for that.
I don’t really think it’s fair that your wife called you an idiot, though, because she should have known what every wife knows: one takes down horrible wedding gifts and hides them in the closet until the person that gave them arrives, then display them in pride of place in the house until they leave. Sending the gift to a yard sale leaves you with no alternative except to either be honest as you were (although your honesty came from shocking memory loss) or lie and say your house was recently burgled. The latter comes with a risk in case the giver of the horror runs out and gets you another one just like it.
And I have to say your mother, although hurt, I am sure, is playing this a bit over the top with drama. If she’s not taking your calls, you might try writing a letter or driving over to her house, assuming she doesn’t live in Poughkeepsie. You’re going to have to be brutally frank and tell her that while you despised the painting, it was reprehensible to behave as you did, you showed no gratitude, were completely unfeeling, but it’s not your fault, it was the way you were raised.
That oughta do it.