picnic basketI’m enrolled in a new Memoir class this spring. Today’s assignment is to write about one of the deadly sins (I’ve selected three, overachiever that I am) and use it as a theme in a writing piece. I wanted to share it with you since it’s been a while since I’ve posted any personal work.

I’m not even sure when my parents became bosom buddies with the Redleafs. With such an unusual last name, I remembered it ever after.

They’d been invited by this couple to spend Memorial Day weekend at their house in the Hamptons. Excuse me. Quogue. Ritzier, I guessed.

Given my mother’s reverence for class, I wasn’t surprised to hear the effort she’d gone to assembling an impressive enough house gift.

“I had such a time finding a Wizard of Oz style basket which I knew would be perfect. I went to three department stores looking,” she said holding up three fingers, as though I couldn’t conceive of how many three was.

“I’d picked up hand-woven placemats at your last craft show, Janie. Remember those?” she asked, not waiting for my response. “I think I paid $25 for the set. I used them to line the basket. Then I found matching linen napkins that just made it all pop. So classic!”

She’d lost me at ‘your last craft show.’ The one she and Dad came to and barely stopped by my booth. I remembered that, not the f**king place mats.

“I convinced Dad that we should splurge and add a bottle of Veuve-Clicquot for mimosas, of course,” a distant voice hummed.

“Just before leaving on that Thursday, we drove into the city to Zabar’s. I knew I had to get the thinnest sliced nova and freshest bagels. It made quite the hit.”

I hoped against hope that this gift-buying frenzy would translate into something as meaningful and well-thought out for my upcoming birthday. I didn’t have to wait long to find out.

“Larry,” Mom ordered my father, “bring down the checkbook so we can give Janie her birthday gift. We can forego the card, I’m sure.” Turning towards me she added, “That’s okay, isn’t it, Sweetie?”

While I’d taught my kids from the time they could talk  to “use their words,” I was unable to speak, my throat thick with unexpressed rage. I got up and walked out before Dad came back.


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