Auntie Jo fancies herself a bit of an amateur psychologist. She loves to poke her nose into other people’s personal affairs, listen to their complaints, and offer solutions. Her willingness to interfere comes from long years of observation and the curiosity of a cupboard full of cats.
…a birth, a wedding, a passing, lost jobs, new jobs, moves up, moves down, just a hint of gossip and Auntie Jo goes into action.
She pulls on a faded tee shirt, size ROOMY, choosing one with a sassy slogan. She adds an ample pair of yoga pants and a sequined ball cap. She jams her “PEACHY CORAL” pony tail (Clairol’s color of the month) through the opening in the cap, slides her manicured pedis into a pair of flips, spritzes a blast of “Parfum de Paree” and she’s off to interfere, invited or not.
The interesting thing is, people appreciate her. Oh sure, there are a few snarky soreheads: “Mind your own business, Lady” or “Get a life,” to which she might reply with an equally snarky “Back at ya.” (Nobody ever said Auntie Jo was a pushover.) But snarky or not, if she thinks she’s needed, she won’t give up. And advising other advisers is her favorite thing.
I was recently in a family situation that badly needed help. My brother’s wife’s sister’s third husband left her, and the sister came to me, of all people, for marital advice. I was at a complete loss, reluctant, and unable to see how I could do any good.
Fortunately Auntie Jo heard of the problem, (she seems to have her own little grapevine going) and ended up on my doorstep within the hour. “Now, what you need to tell her,” she blurted out breathlessly, “is for her to find out why she can’t hold onto a husband.”
“I could never do that,” I reply. “Looky here,” she butts in, “When you’re asked for advice, you give advice.” Finally I mumble, “Well, you see, it’s like this,” and I pour out the whole story.
“My brother’s sister-in-law had been dallying with the guy next door. Her third husband wanted to get even so he was getting it on with the woman across the street, whose boyfriend, the mayor’s chief assistant, had a thing going with the town librarian. They’d been spotted compromising up a storm behind the NON-FICTION stacks at the library. The librarian’s husband, our police chief, was too busy popping in and out of various empty jail cells with a variety of deputy sheriffs (all female) to pay much attention.
“The husbands and boyfriends of the deputy sheriffs decided to turn the tables, quite literally, with the cute waitresses at the diner. One of the boyfriends, a truck driver, was regularly inviting my brother’s next door neighbor’s wife to check out the comfy bunk in the cab of his truck. As it turned out, my brother’s wife was involved with that very neighbor who happened to be my brother’s best friend. She was seen tip-toeing out of his back door at dawn several times, shoes in hand.
“So where was my brother during all this hanky-panky? Sitting naively at home, working on his needlepoint, watching Reality TV and wondering why the old gang never dropped around anymore. As for me, my last romance had ended badly and I was getting pretty lonely myself.
“So you see, Auntie Jo,” I concluded, “I really can’t get involved. I’m going to have to move out of town and take my wimpy brother with me. It’s just too complicated.”
By now Auntie Jo’s eyes are glassy, her ears are ringing and her mouth hangs open. She’s at a loss for words but not for long. Suddenly an idea strikes, her eyes light up, she draws in a deep breath and informs me briskly:
“Divorces All Around!! It’ll be like musical chairs. When the dust settles, everyone picks a new partner. You get to be first, and your wimpy brother can have second choice! Let the rest of them figure it out after you’re out of there.”
I never appreciated Auntie Jo’s advice more. The mayor and I have never been happier. As for my wimpy brother and his wife, they’ve remarried. No one else would have them.