Celebrating, Inca Stinka Style

So. Since I took my ease yesterday, I suppose that makes this Monday. Or something. I’m not taking a nap, at any rate. I am, however, going on a date. Yes, that’s right. Me and he. He even shaved.

Speaking of going out on the town: class was cancelled this weekend, and so I got to join some of my female in-laws for a weekend lunch to celebrate my mother-in-law’s birthday. She thanked me by flinging a good-sized dollop of whipped cream across the table and down my front. Luckily, I associate with this type of table manners all week, and it didn’t bother me one bit. Besides, if you have ever been to Inca’s in Moses Lake, you know that we call it Inca Stinka and you understand that if you don’t want to tack the cost of a seriously hefty dry cleaning bill onto the cost of your meal, you wear something you can take off and wash when you get home. As soon as you get home. There’s a reason my hair is up in as tight a knot as I could get it. That’s me in the black coat, blessedly obscured from the camera. (Have you ever seen a good photo of yourself, eating?)

The important thing in this picture is that pink box on the bench beside Charli–keep your eye on that one:

I couldn’t help but ask myself, as the waiters came out singing, with a plate of free (you guessed it) whipped cream covered, deep fried tortilla crisps, and the dreaded sombrero, How many other people has that hat been worn by? Do they disinfect it between celebrations? Somehow I think not:

This is the birthdayee, my mother-in-law, Carlene. She’s an amazing woman–she’s put up with my father-in-law for more than fifty years now.

Kidding, Glade. (But you know it’s true…)

She seriously has the patience of something beyond Job. Or her teeth are permanently fixed in her tongue, I don’t know. The only time I ever heard of her losing her cool was the day one of my nieces was walking out of Chico’s pizza parlor and her baggy pants fell down around her ankles. And her hands were full of nearly $100 worth of pizza.

You have to understand that Carlene is seriously old school. As in, she cannot bring herself to say words like “pee”: Ew, she will say when the litter box needs changing, it smells like wet in here. She is also very frugal, however, she certainly will not endure her grandchild exposing herself to an entire parking lot. My daughter–who was there–says that on this occasion, Grandma Carlene proved she can make herself heard.

Which might make it even funnier that inside that pink box was a racy pair of scarlet underthings: a gag gift from her daughter, Shalene. Apparently this set of lingerie has been making the rounds for more than a decade in various gifts and surprise appearances between them. This is a bizarre little family secret I have never been privy to. There was also a head from a goose decoy which appeared in vehicles and under pillows and strapped into infant strollers. It made a final disappearance in Idaho a few years back.

This is the family where Santa hides the stockings so well that weeks have gone by without them being found. They’re shifty like that.

Carlene opened up the box, unwrapped the tissue, and immediately clapped the lid on again. Her sense of decorum must be slipping, however, because she relented and showed the rest of us what was in the box–in full view of everyone else in the restaurant. I suppose us young folk are rubbing off on her.

At any rate, with patience and a sense of humor and she has been capable of endure just about anything we dish out. In all the years Marty and I rented her basement apartment, she never once let us drive her to distraction (that she has ever admitted to, anyway.) Now, she lives less than a quarter of a mile away, and I rarely see her anymore, shame on me. It was worth the whipped cream stains–happy birthday, Carlene!


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