Home > Uncategorized > Oh Dear God, I’m Aunt Rose

Oh Dear God, I’m Aunt Rose

I bought myself one of those long (but not really long) cardigan sweaters the other day. It’s warm and soft and a soft heathered brown.

My waxer is visiting her family in Brazil and I refuse to go to the other chick — she hurts. So, as I have since I got pregnant, I’ve got a little bit of fuzz on my lip. It’s mostly white/blonde, which is why the (painful) laser hair removal didn’t work on it. But when I don’t see Priscilla for a while, it gets fuzzy enough to cast a shadow and I look like I’ve got dark hair.

And finally, a few months ago, I got new glasses. For years I’d been wearing gold-tone oval shaped glasses, but the guy at the shop convinced me to get dark tortoise-shell frames with strongly rectangular lenses. They are very au courant, but to me they sometimes look a little like the angry librarian’s glasses in any bad Edwardian melodrama.

Anyway, the other day, I had my brown cardigan and my dark, angular glasses and my fuzzy lip. I’d scraped my hair back into a bun with a pencil stuck through it because The Child has decided that it’s fun to hide all the hair elastics in the house. And I popped into the bathroom to get something and was shocked to discover someone familiar looking out of the mirror. Because while she looked familiar, she wasn’t me.

It was Aunt Rose. Or Aunt Francine. Or Aunt Ruth.

You know her… or maybe you don’t.

Pop into a church bake sale this Easter, preferably one in a neighborhood that’s second-generation Polish or Russian or some other Slavic genome. You’ll wend your way past sheet trays filled with babkas baked in coffee cans and mounding piles of peirogi and tinfoil baking dishes heaped with golabki and plates of towering paczki and krischiki. It all smells delicious in a heart-stopping, artery-clogging kind of way.

There will be old women, ancients of the community, shriveled and wrinkled with silvery hair and the most outrageous fashion sense you’ve ever seen. They will sit in state talk, endlessly, about how they made the delicacies before you. They are fascinating women and if you have time, you should sit down and offer to buy a bottle of something for them. (Vodka or scotch, usually.)

There will be fat young women with double chins, giant breasts, and lank blonde hair running around after small children. Ignore them, they are very busy and don’t have time for you.

There may even be, though fewer now than when I was a kid, a few tall and statuesque blonde hotties in their teens. They will dress provocatively and flirt and show off their big breasts, which still look good in that scoop neck top (but you can see where they are headed as their older sisters tear by after the kids.)

And then, in the back, you will find some stern, stout women. They are not doing the actual baking but instead lifting the 50 lb. bags of flour for the wrinkled old ladies. They are not out front schmoozing the buyers, but are making sure the change box is full and that the pretty boy doesn’t charm the girls out of too many paczki for free. They keep the kids from fighting, the babka from burning, the old ladies from drinking (too much) vodka. When I was a kid, they were in their 40s and 50s, which seemed ancient to me. Now, I imagine they are all really old, but I can’t picture a Polish church fair without them.

They are Aunt Rose. Everyone calls them Aunt. Often they are the single women, though sometimes they are married, with kids. They have strong jaws and often the only dark hair you’ll see in the room and no time to do anything with it. Which is why it’s always short or put up in a bun. They run the church. Not the politics, not the glamorous positions — they are never in the choir — but the nitty gritty. They scrub the sacristy and take the old ladies to the doctor and keep the schedule for the choir practices and put out that monthly newsletter. They wear cheap tennis shoes (and cardigans) and talk very loudly and make coffee strong enough to strip clean rusted steel.

They are competent. Professionally, I think. That’s what they do. Be competent.

I guess it’s not such a bad thing to be Aunt Rose. It’s just not who I was expecting in my mirror the other day.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. elcynae
    January 14, 2009 at 1:42 am

    I wish I could be Competent. I’m reasonably competent, I suppose, but I’d like to be Competent. Instead, I’m Nice. I value nice, I really do, but as a defining characteristic it leaves something to be desired.

  2. K
    January 16, 2009 at 5:56 pm

    Competent is good. I don’t think it’s a bad thing to be Aunt Rose (and I am definitely familar with the women you describe.)

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