I love my family. My loud, inappropriate, angry, loving, and there for you at the drop of a hat family.
I grew up in Brooklyn, where the usual mode of communication was what I would call, “blunt yelling.” It’s something my husband had a hard time getting used to. He would say, “Why are you yelling at me? Why don’t you just walk over to where I am and talk to me?” And I would say, “BECAUSE THIS IS HOW FAMILIES TALK IN HOUSES.”
I’m working on it.
My mom, dad (who passed away in 2003), and two sisters spoke to each other in ways that many other families would consider unacceptable. One favorite family story is of the time we discussed bestiality over Thanksgiving dinner (there were questions that needed answers). Another is of the time in high school when I was on the phone with my mom and said, “F**k you,” while laughing at some ridiculous thing she said. The girl next to me was shocked. “Did you just say ‘F you’ to your mother?!” I said, “What? No. No, I would never do that.” But I totally did. To this day, my mother’s go-to sign-off from a conversation is to walk away while flipping the double bird behind her back. Because like a picture, “f**ck you” says a thousand words.
I love it all. I know that these aren’t respectful or polite ways to talk to members of your family, but they sure are honest. And it would be hurtful and empty if it weren’t for the fact that we also love each other fiercely. My mom, my sisters, and I have been through everything from my twin sister’s cancer diagnosis, to my father’s death, to the cancelation of Magnum, P.I. (R.I.P, Hairy Legs), and our love for each other has only deepened through it all. No, we might not be well-mannered around each other, but to me your family is the one group of people you shouldn’t have to be well-mannered for. They are the people you laugh with till your stomach hurts, cry with till your head aches, yell at till your throat is raw, and share a bathroom with when you both have food poisoning. And though none of that is polite, it is, to me, what family means.
For May, Netflix asked its #StreamTeam members to write about their families in honor of their new original series, Grace and Frankie (Jane Fonda! Lily Tomlin! JANE FONDA! LILY TOMLIN!). Dear God, please let Dolly Parton make a cameo appearance and I will never ask for anything else in my life.