Boomer in the city | Its just the holidays

“I’m having a post-Hanukkah family gathering at my house,” says Aunt BeeBee.

“Sure. Thanks. Can I bring something?” I ask politely, hoping she says no.

“Oy, why don’t you make that nice brisket? Maybe a little apple pie?”

“Sure, no problem,” I say, wondering why she can’t do it herself. She inherited a fortune from her last husband and lives in a Nob Hill palace. She also asks my daughter Bonny to bake the desserts.

I wonder what she means by family? Most of the family is estranged.

“I’ve invited a nice Jewish widower,” Aunt BeeBee continues. “He’s 75 and a doctor!” Her voice lingers on doctor. “Plus he’s very wealthy.”

“Oh, nice, but these older men are nightmares.”

“Oy, it’s a nightmare that you’re alone,” she says. “Myra Berman twerked, threw her hip out and met a nice single retired orthopedic surgeon. The rest is history.”

So I spend the next few days shopping, shlepping and cooking, and finally the day comes.

My daughter and her husband and I arrive at the Nob Hill palace, carrying our casseroles and gifts. Aunt BeeBee, wearing blue taffeta, leads us to the mile-long kitchen and we place our casseroles on a marble buffet table next to the other casseroles.

“What is Aunt BeeBee cooking?” I whisper to Bonny.

“Mom, it’s family day,” she says. “Let’s be compassionate. And don’t start your political rants. Last time when you said that we have to legalize prostitution and marijuana, Aunt Zoe had an asthma attack. Let’s have a nice time with family.”

Aunt BeeBee’s new co-op is a palace with a nonstop view of the city. Framed paintings of her deceased husband and their trips to Israel hang on the walls. Family members, about 20 of them, are gathered in the humongous living room.

An hour passes and no appetizers. No drinks. Not even a nut. Everyone is talking about their recent trips, how fast the year went. Stuff like that. Meanwhile I’m starving and dying for a vodka shot. A hideous 2-year-old is riding a toy car on the polished wood floors, yelling, “I have to go poop!”

Aunt BeeBee enters. “Barbara, this is Dr. Ben Feldman,” she says.

“What kind of doctor are you?” I ask.

“A tree surgeon.”

“Trees. I love trees,” I say.

I make small talk about how my ficus trees always die, until dinner is announced and everyone makes a beeline to the buffet. The 2-year-old slaps my leg, screams and runs away.

I sit next to the tree doctor. The food is cold and I’m praying my irritable innards don’t act up, while the tree doctor complains about heartburn and his food allergies. Everyone is talking at once — who died this year, went broke, fell in the street — and arguing about the presidential debates. Uncle Norman’s face is all puffed up and red and his mouth full of turkey as he screams, “Donald Trump is a gonif. A regular gonif!”

“Well, I like Bernie Sanders,” I say, my voice rising above the noise.

“A socialist!” Uncle Norman shouts, glaring at me. In an aside, he turns to the guests. “That girl always was a hippie.”

“Stop shouting, Norman!” Aunt Zoe yells. “At least he’s Jewish!”

“I like what Sanders says,” I insist, ignoring my daughter’s kicks under the table.

“Really, Barbara,” says cousin Buffy, her voice oozing with sarcasm. She shrieks that I’m a communist, while Uncle Norman, whose mouth is full of mashed potatoes, is yelling above everyone else’s screams. He says I should move to Russia and see how I like it.

“Oy, please, let’s all get along!” shouts Aunt Lil. “What are we, anyway? Animals like ISIS?”

Suddenly Uncle Norman starts choking and then he’s on the floor, gagging. The tree surgeon takes over. He stops the choking and then he calls 911.

”He’ll be fine,” he assures me. “It’s just the holidays. Can I call you?”

“Sure thing.”

I’m home now, watching “Gone With the Wind” and obsessing about whether Rhett will ever go back to Scarlett. I pray to the higher power for world peace, to help the homeless out of the cold streets, grateful for family and wondering if the tree surgeon can tango.


Barbara Rose Brooker is a San Francisco native and the author of “The Viagra Diaries.” A sequel, “To Be Continued,” will be available on Kindle next month.

Barbara Rose Brooker
Barbara Rose Brooker

Barbara Rose Brooker is a native San Francisco author. CW is making a pilot for a TV series based on her book "The Viagra Diaries."