Chapter 4, Part 2: Lasagna-gate, and the Emergence of Bratty McBratFace
Warning: This will be a bit long...
We’re still in mid-summer 2016, and SO’s large family was planning a reunion in the mid-west that summer. SO rented a couple of large houses near a lake. He went out there for a full week to handle arrangements but as this was the first time I was meeting his family, I opted to leave a bit later and just spend a long weekend there (plus I was limited on vacation time that year). SD flew separately as well (2 days after SO) due to a schedule conflict with her part-time summer job. I offered to drop SD off at the airport and when I went to meet her at SO’s apartment, she was ready and quickly closed the door behind her so I couldn’t see inside. I dropped her off at the airport for her flight, and went home.
The next day she texted me and said she may have ‘left the bread out’ and would I mind stopping by and put it back in the fridge. Sure, no problem – I had a key to SO’s apartment. I stopped by after work the next day and walked into the most disgusting kitchen I have ever seen. It was not just ‘bread left out’ – there was a whole sink full of gross dishes with food stuck on them and food flies everywhere. Obviously she had people over as one person could not make that mess in 2 days. There was no way I could leave that situation so of course I rolled up my sleeves and cleaned it up. I thought about whether I should text SO but decided to wait and address it with him in person instead.
Then there was the question of SD’s birthday, which came up during the reunion. For the prior Christmas, I had gotten SD a couple of paperback books (she likes to read) but she tossed the wrapped gift under the tree without comment to open later. I never got a thank you for those books, but no big deal – it was the first Christmas and SO and I were recently dating and I thought nothing of it. But, I didn’t want to show up empty-handed at the reunion for SD’s birthday but had heard SD complain about her BM and siblings still trying to give her gifts and ‘how dare they since they didn’t know her anymore’ (SD had cut off contact from BM when she went to live with SO). So, I opted to get her a card for her 19th birthday with a small $10 gift card to Panera that she could use for lunch (there was one on her college campus that she frequented). I reasoned that it was something but not excessive or overstepping the relationship either.
So when I finally arrived for the reunion, SO borrowed a car to pick me up at the airport. On the drive to the lake, I told him about the mess in the kitchen. He laughed it off and said well she is a teenager. I was like, WTF – so that’s it? At any rate, I quickly forgot about it as my attention turned to meeting his family for the first time, including his mother.
When we arrived at the lake, there was a flurry of introductions. I’m nervous, but everyone seems nice. We settle in for dinner that night (pizza) and I’m informed that the family typically take turns making meals at these reunions. I was on a ‘team’ for dinner the next night with SO, SD, and SO’s nephew (who had gone to culinary school and we’ll call Bob here – though clearly not his real name). Nothing like stepping off a plane and being told you’re cooking dinner for 22 people the next day! But I love to cook and was up to the challenge.
The next morning we had a ‘team meeting’ after breakfast to figure out our game plan. We first deferred to Bob, who is super sweet and a really nice young man, since he had the cooking school experience. Bob said was open to doing anything and wanted to hear our thoughts. I tossed out lasagna since it feeds a crowd and is adaptable so we can make different kinds. I suggested three different lasagnas – one traditional, one turkey, and one veggie. Bob and SO loved the idea but SD was quiet again. Well, silence is approval and we voted to forge ahead with lasagna.
Next, SO, SD and I head off to the grocery store to do the shopping. In the car, SD finally speaks and says she doesn’t think Bob got enough airtime to voice his opinions. I’m like wtf again and SO is like ‘ok SD that’s nice’. When we get to the store I have a list that I’m going through and this marks the emergence of SD’s new persona: Bratty McBratFace. Every item I pick up, she starts whining that I am buying ‘too much’. First of all, Bratty doesn’t cook unless it is out of a box. Secondly, 3 full lasagnas does require a certain amount of ingredients. Bratty’s whining goes on and I’m getting annoyed since SO is still really pandering to Bratty. Bratty then announces that we should be making 2 veggie lasagnas and one should be a tri-colored lasagna (with marinara, pesto, and alfredo sauces) like she had in a restaurant once. Finally, SO decides on a rare occasion to tell her no, this was a meat and potatoes crowd and 2 veggie lasagnas would not go over well. She gets quiet again but regroups and then whines that ‘her’ lasagna should be the tri-color veggie lasagna. I think to myself, great, go knock yourself out then. So we have to find pesto and this store didn’t have fresh pesto. It did have jarred pesto, but only very small jars and at a high price. Bratty gets one itty bitty jar and I know that will never cover a full lasagna but I stay quiet.
Bratty then decides she and her father will be doing a bruschetta appetizer together. So they go off to buy bread and find some small thinly sliced baguettes (more suitable for crostini than bruschetta) available in large bags of about 24 slices each. She gets 3 of these bags ‘to make sure there is enough’. Yeah I think almost 75 is enough for 22 people (especially since half of them were kids that probably wouldn’t eat that appetizer). Since Bratty had been criticizing everything item I put in the cart as ‘too much’, I could no longer resist and told her and SO that much bread was, well, ‘too much’. Bratty gets snotty and says its’ HER project with HER father and I should basically butt out. SO chimes in with well, we’re a team but yes, Bratty and I will handle this appetizer. I’m really ticked off now so once we get to the register I walk out and let them finish up with the bill inside. SO could tell I was pissed and the ride home was quiet.
Once we get back to the house, Bratty wants to get started on ‘her’ appetizer but SO asks me to step aside so we can talk. Bratty immediately gets upset that SO is ‘abandoning’ her but he tells her we’ll be right back. SO and I go outside and we talk a bit. I’m upset that he didn’t control Bratty better and felt inappropriately criticized by her. He says he didn’t see Bratty’s comments as criticisms but just her opinion. He said he was sorry if I felt he didn’t stand up for me. We patch things up - temporarily at least - and get back to work in the kitchen.
So much for SD’s ‘tri-color’ veggie lasagna being ‘hers’ as she did not lift a finger to help make that or any lasagnas that day. In fact, what she did make was a mess. Bob and I did all the prep, cooking and assembly (well a couple of the little kids came by interested so I supervised their assembly, LOL) of the lasagnas. Bratty spent hours dicing tomatoes and looking at recipes on her phone, while SO diced garlic and babysat her. Bob and I worked efficiently as a team and got all three lasagnas ready and in the oven. I started working on cleanup.
Over by the 2nd oven (it was a big kitchen) Bratty put a tray of her bread slices (tiny little crostini slices) to toast in the oven. Under the broiler. Most people with common sense would understand that those tiny little crostini slices under the broiler would burn in an instant. First batch, burned terribly which filled the whole kitchen with smoke. Second batch, same result. By the third batch I was dying from lack of oxygen and ‘suggested’ to her and SO that they put in the regular oven at 400 to toast and not the broiler. Bob comes over and says the same thing.
Then Bob tries to show Bratty the correct technique of rubbing garlic on the bread but Bratty gets upset and just leaves the kitchen and tells him to finish. So poor ends up finishing the crostini and I’m still cleaning up (we made a lot of dishes, LOL). SO had already left the kitchen and was in the other room socializing. While I’m at the sink, Bratty comes back in the kitchen and asks me, in an accusing tone of voice, ‘why didn’t you use MY pesto in MY lasagna?’ Um, huh? The lasagna you didn’t help make? I stayed calm, but threw poor Bob under the bus and said ‘Well Bob thought it was best to use that small amount of pesto as a garnish only’. Then I shout loudly across the kitchen, ‘Right Bob? Bratty is asking about the pesto and you thought it was best as a garnish since there wasn’t enough of it?’ He comes over and says yes, he thought that was the best way to go. Bratty storms out of the kitchen again.
The lasagnas finally came out of the oven and smell great. We let them rest and pull together a Ceaser salad and garlic bread to go with it. Bob finished the appetizers and passed them around. Bratty annoyingly comes back in the kitchen for a third time. Right as I’m finishing the last dish and she asks me where the sponges are so she can help clean up. Gee, thanks, but if you look around you can clearly see I already finished that. I just said I don’t know and ignored her from there.
The lasagnas were a huge hit. Everyone loved them and proclaimed them the star meal of the reunion. I finally got to relax, eat, sip some wine and socialize. We played a game of Scrabble where I was teamed up with SO’s brothers’ partner and we won! Fortunately Bratty avoided me the rest of the evening. I was so tired at the end of that long day, I slept the sleep of the dead.
The next day there was a cake for Bratty’s birthday. I gave her the birthday card earlier that day and I just got a grunt of acknowledgement. Whatever. Bratty’s gift-giving and receiving etiquette will be pop up again in future chapters…
The rest of the reunion was fine – SO’s mother is really sweet and I got along well with his siblings. The three of us returned on the same flight back home with SO unaware that Lasagna-gate was still festering within me. Our first dinner after returning was the first full-blown argument we had regarding Bratty but I’ll cover that in Chapter 5 – The Aftermath.