"What? Just tell me."
"OK (sigh). I have an issue with you. I'm unhappy about something you did, and we need to talk about it."
"Oh Christ, what now?"
"Well, auuuuughhhhhmmm. Many of my friends were really shocked by that article you wrote."
"Which friends?! Who?"
"That's not important."
"Who was it?! Which article, the money one?"
"You really hammered us, you know. You've gone too far."
"But you LIKED that article! You CALLED me to tell me you liked it. You said you were surprised how even-handed I was about the whole thing!"
"Well, I thought I did, at first."
"Oh, and now you don't."
"Well, a LOT of people have come up to me and been horrified that you'd say such things in print."
"What 'lot' of people?"
"Just ... several friends."
"You understood the article the right way the first time, and now you're letting other people influence you? Why are you adopting other idiots' takes on it over mine?"
"Well, there were a few things that got pointed out to me which I realized were unkind. You've humiliated us again."
"It's not MY fault that your friends are stupid! If you're going to listen to people who have their heads up their asses it's no fault of mine!"
"Just listen to me ..."
"No! You told me you were amazed at the insight I had into the situation!"
"Well, it was really cruel!"
"No, it wasn't cruel, it was real and true."
"Yes, but is there nothing sacred? I mean, this is your FAMILY ..."
"Yeah! It is! And I'm not going to make it look like a Hallmark card! Family situations are sticky and complicated and difficult! Other people wrote to me to tell me they really appreciated that article. People told me it was a Universal Sentiment!"
"You come off as being so angry at us."
"Well, I was angry at you! But I never aimed any gun at you in that piece that I didn't aim twice as hard at myself. I'm the one who ends up looking like the monster in that piece, if anybody."
"You just don't see any reason to spare us, do you?"
"Yes I do. I spare you guys ALL THE TIME. I NEVER write about the family. And when I do, I'm REAL CAREFUL, because every time I've ever mentioned you in an article, you've found a way to take it horribly personally and moan at me about it for months afterwards."
"Look, let me read you some of the things you wrote here ..."
"Look, here in the first paragraph, you call us 'neurotic' ..."
"Well, you are neurotic! Who isn't?!"
"I just don't see why you can't be more kind ..."
"Because! I'm not going to write about the family and sugarcoat it over with some thick latex of denial so nobody can actually see anything. That's the epitome of dysfunction; that just fucks everybody up. That kind of shit is way better out in the open; otherwise it just festers and gets cancerous."
"I just don't know why you can't ever write anything nice about us."
"Look -- if you don't want me to write about the family, I'll never write about the family again. It's that simple."
"Well, it's just that we don't get any say; you don't get to hear our end of it."
"You want a rebuttal? Then get your own goddamn column!" (laughs)
"You're a horrible child. So mean to Mommy."
"I can't believe you're giving me this much shit when all I'm doing is calling up to tell you I'm getting married."
"... You WHAT?!"
(Laughing) "You heard me. I even have a new piece of jewelry here."
"What is it?"
"Well, it's little and round and gold, and it has a hole in it."
"Is it a RING?!"
"What do you think it is?"
"No! You're not serious!"
"I'm serious. It's all over."
"Well ...! I don't know what to say! (Leaning off phone) Stephen! Your daughter's ENGAGED!"
(From far off) "WHAT?!"
"Wait, when?! How did it happen?"
"It just sorta happened. It was all a blur. Suddenly I have this ring on my finger."
"Well, that's how it happens. You're going to have to tell me every single little detail later. I can't believe it. I'm just thrilled for you."
"Yep. It's pretty damn thrilling."
"Cimmie! My God. Do I get to come to the wedding?"
"I don't think so. You'll have to wait in the car outside the church." "Awful child. Let me talk to him! I want to talk to my future son-in-law!" "No, I wanna talk to my Dad."
"He's killing bees, he may not be able to ... Stephen! Come talk to your engaged daughter! He's out there inventing something and there's stuff all over him ... here he is ..."
"Hi! Congratulations! Actually, I can't talk to you right now, your mother is holding the phone next to my ear. My hands are covered with yellow jacket pheromone. If I touch the phone with my hands, it'll get swarmed with bees."
"Killing bees, are you?"
"Yes, and this stuff is going to create a sensation with them, so I'd better get it off my hands before they start coming at me."
"Well, OK then."
"But congratulations! I'm very happy for you!"
"OK, love you, bye-bye."
"My God, Cimmie, you're going to be a BRIDE."
"Eeeeu, God. Find another word for it, all right?"
"I get to help you buy cakes and dresses!"
"Do me a favor: Don't get all histrionically excited about the whole wedding deal, OK? It's going to be strictly unconventional. I'm thinking of going Royal Indonesian."
"Oh, come on, Mommy gets to have some fun! I get to be MOTHER OF THE BRIDE!"
"I'm serious, don't treat this like it's the junior prom, all right? You'll just scare me off."
"Oh, you're such a pill."