I’m going to do this one first because it happened first chronologically, both this weekend and originally, back in1982. I will not do it the justice it deserves; Paul is my neighbor across the street who works at AB and knows how to entertain a crowd with a story. But I will try to portray him accurately. And it is probably only amusing to those of you who actually know my aunt. But for those who don’t, it is at least another example of how very very small St. Louis is.
Background from Saturday night:
Setting: Mary & Brent’s kitchen, for dessert at the progressive dinner. Approximately 12 or 13 people of the 16 total attendees were in the kitchen; there may have been more around the corner listening. I was kind of wedged between the table and the fridge, standing next to Paul.
Prelude: small conversation groups with chatting. Paul mentions that he went to gradeschool at St. Clement of Rome, in Des Peres. My aunt Gracemarie lives right near there and her kids went to that school. I guessed in my head that Paul and my cousin Michael were probably about the same age—even if they weren’t in the same class, certainly he knew the Miller family, right? So I ask, “Were you in class with Michael Miller?”
Paul’s response: Was I in class with Mike Miller? Was I in class with Mike Miller? Let me tell you about—yeah—I was in class with him. How do you know him?
Bridgett: He’s my cousin. Or, rather, our mothers are first cousins. But Gracemarie—his mom—we’re pretty close.
Paul: Well, let me tell you about Gracemarie. I mean, I was a bad kid. One of those thug kids, always getting into trouble. I’d been in a lot of trouble. It was 1982, and any of you who were around St. Louis in 1982—
At this point, the whole kitchen starts to focus on Paul.
Paul: Well, you know that snowstorm that hit and dumped a couple of feet of snow on us. We were out of school for like a week. And the first day back, the parking lot was clear but there were mounds of snow like twice as high as me. Just huge piles. And I was in 7th grade and our plan was to eat lunch as fast as possible and spend the rest of the time on the playground. So we ate in like 3 minutes and had the next 27 minutes to ourselves. So I was out there with a friend of mine and we were tossing this kid into a snowbank—
Bridgett: Mike Miller?
Paul: Naw, not Mike, he was all right. We didn’t spend a lot of time with him, you know, Dungeons and Dragons kind of guy, kind of a dork, but he was ok. I wasn’t going to toss him in a snowbank.
At this point, Paul’s wife Kristen has recognized with horror that her husband is telling this story. Her hands are cupped over her face like she’s just seen a car wreck and she is inching towards the butler’s pantry.
Paul: So it was like a 4th grader or something. So anyway, Mike Miller’s mom—and she always looked like this crazy gypsy, had her hair up in a bun with a little lace thing over it—
Bridgett: Yeah. She did that for a long time. She’s not a gypsy. She’s Mexican.
Paul: That’s great, this gypsy bun lady comes over to me and grabs me by the arm long enough to let the 4th grader get away, you know, that’s fair, and my buddy who was doing this with me is of course nowhere to be found, and Bun Lady tells me that I’m going to stay with her the rest of recess. Now, of course I’m not going to stay with her the rest of recess. And I tell her that. But this bun lady doesn’t let me go.
Kristen: Paul, this is Bridgett’s Aunt! You can’t call her the bun lady!
Paul: Fine. So she says yes you are and I say no I’m not and she’s holding onto my arm and not letting go and it’s crazy and I wrestle away from her, and while doing so, pop her in the jaw with the back of my hand. I mean, she was the one holding on so damned tight. So suddenly it’s like I’ve assaulted her, and we’re off to the principal’s office. I get suspended because Bun Lady tells the principal that I hit her. I didn’t HIT her, I just was trying to get away. So then the principal calls my mother, who is having a St. Jo luncheon at the house, and she refuses to go get me. She tells him that she pays his salary and he can keep me the rest of the day. Eventually she gives in and picks me up.
Mary: Did you get in trouble?
Paul: Nah I—
Kristen: You got to go home and eat chicken salad and pineapple rings with the luncheon ladies! I’ve heard this story. I just didn’t know that the woman you hit was Bridgett’s aunt. Oh my God.
Paul: Yeah, and then trying to get into high school, they kept looking at my ‘Permanent Record’ and saying things like well, then there was the time you hit Mrs. Miller, and I’m like I DIDN’T HIT MRS. MILLER!
Bridgett: Hey, Paul, it’s ok. I can totally see how she would piss off the average 7th grade boy.
Paul: Oh yeah. Hey, though, if you see Michael sometime soon, you know, tell him I said hi.
Bridgett: And the next time I have Gracemarie over for lunch, I’ll be sure to bring her over.
Kristen: [mortified moaning from the next room].