Content Warning for: Racism/xenophobia. Depictions of nasty and toxic parents.
Annette came home to an unusual sight.
She didn’t put much thought into Amy kicking her out for the day. There was a local football game in the afternoon. The town’s stadium had disabled seating with an amazing view of the field. So Annette could put more thought into watching a ball, than to whatever Amy’s “emergency wedding preparations” were. It was easy for anyone to see how those two older people in their living room factored into Amy’s life.
With her arms crossed and her stance strong, Annette wasn’t going to be intimidated. “So…you never mentioned that you still had parents,” she said. In fact, it felt unusual and wrong for them to still be around. No other adult in the house had living parents.
“Who are they…and what is that?” Amy’s dad asked. He looked dignified, but his voice growled at a menacing tone. He punctuated his last word by staring at Annette and her colorful children.
Amy groaned in her seat. “Landlady and her family.”
“Explains why there’s a ramp…so tell me,” her mum said. “Is she a demon, an angel, and alien, or none of the above?”
Annette just smiled and nodded. “Yup.”
She approached Amy’s dad, with an outstretched hand. “I probably should have done this sooner. Annette Racket. Friend and landlady for your daughter…she also has to deal with my band of weirdos.” She made sure to introduce them all by name. Bill, her old human husband. Franco and Samira, their beloved spawn.
He returned the gesture, but with a sarcastic scowl. “Stanley Bull. It’s…a pleasure to meet you.”
Her mother acted a few degrees warmer about it. “Nahm Soo-jung. I reverted to my birth name after defecting from that bastard.” She chuckled a bit as she pointed to Stephen. “You look like a good hostess. Get me a beer.” Annette thought it would be hypocritical of her to wait for a “…please” from her.
“Yeah, soon.” She could smell her chili on the stove. She left it there all day, and it needed a taste test.
Amy caught her on her way to the kitchen. “I’m sorry about them.” She was pleading with her hands folded. “They’re grumpy about having to spend time together again. I got them separate rooms at a hotel in Pearlbrook, but they begged me to show them this place. Please don’t let them get to you-”
“Relax. They’re nothing I can’t handle for a night,” Annette said. She was cut off by Amy answering a call.
Once she hung up, she pinched her nose bridge in frustration. “Fucking–it’s the travel agent. Apparently now is the only time to talk about everything changing,” Amy said. “I’ll fetch them once I’m back. I…it’s not like I had a choice in who my parents are.”
“I’ll keep them entertained. Hope they like chili.”
Amy’s mother hung around the kitchen, and Annette hung around her chili. Once Soo-jung was placated by a dark IPA, she was not Annette’s concern. It was much more fulfilling to continue texting Lolly about those adventures in a broken engine. Her niece’s reactions to her car troubles grew more ridiculous with each text. It was a pleasant change from trying to drag her brother out of suicide.
“I hope one of those is spicy,” Soo said. “Unlike Stan, I can actually take the heat. It’s not like I divorced him over it, but you know what sucks? Cooking bland stuff for one mild baeg-in…if you catch my drift.”
“Yep.” Annette always made two pots of chili at a time. Spicy and spiked with a few arbol chilis for the adults, and mild for the kids. Bill wasn’t picky about the heat of a dish, so Annette didn’t share Soo’s old woes. Nor did she pull out foreign insults for her white husband, but he wasn’t in earshot. “You’ll be able to smell the difference.”
“You’re a good wife, I bet,” said Soo.
She smiled a bit. “Don’t worry, Bill lets me know.”
“So you waste all your effort on him. Got it.”
Annette raised an eyebrow and tried to stand her ground. “If you want to call it that, be my guest. I’ll just stay here and enjoy every single moment I have with him.”
“How old is he?”
“I’m just curious!” Soo had the same excited affectation to her voice that Amy did. In spite of them even sharing the same valley girl-esque inflection, it grated against Annette’s senses like her friend’s never did.
“Fine. Turning 78 in December. I’m guessing you’re younger than him and that you just don’t get why a fine demon like me would suck his dick.”
“And have two kids with him! You’re still young. End it now and enjoy what life you have left.” Soo punctuated it by finishing up her beer. “Be a good hostess and grab another. Nice brew.”
All Annette could do was grumble and grab another. She had a whole six-pack of it.
“If it isn’t the great groom!” Annette said. She gave Sinbad a desperate look and mouthed help me to him.
He rolled his eyes. “She’s a real piece of work. I’m just gonna get a snack for this kid. We’ve been on our feet all day…he has too.” He was growing up into an active two-year old, after all. Julian was starting to love stairs and climbing them.
Sinbad stayed in the corner, while Julian shoved his hands into a bowl of cold maple and brown sugar oatmeal. Instead of gushing over her grandson, Soo continued with Annette. “How long has Sinbad been bothering you for?”
“For as long as Amy has known him? I dunno, he’s a part of my life now,” said Annette. “And his dad and I were definitely the best of friends.”
“Isn’t he such a catch…not!” Soo laughed, even if her future son-in-law was only ten feet away. “I haven’t been impressed with him at all lately. He’s unemployed, angry, cheated on her…he’s Japanese, need I go on? And I dunno what else he’s mixed with. That poor kidlet of theirs is gonna be so confused. It was bad enough with Amy.”
Annette could see Sinbad fuming in the corner. “Yeah, sure,” she muttered. “You done yet?”
“You have me for the night, honey.” The alcohol had finally slurred up her words. “And for the rest of this goddamned wedding week.”
“The good times keep coming, don’t they?”
“Well hey, looks like my little girl grabbed herself a sassy one!” Soo started laughing. “Look, if I’m just a bitch of an in-law to all of you, then why even have me here? You could be making out with Mr. Takasugi, instead of dealing with someone you just hate so much-”
Annette didn’t know how to stop her. Heck, she didn’t even want to correct her on what his dad’s name really was. But someone else could take a stab at it.
Soo was cut off by an angry Sinbad, going off at her while holding an oblivious Julian. “I hate my parents! But I’d rather dig up either of them than spend a week with you. At least they wouldn’t say things like this because…”
“Because why?” Soo asked, as Sinbad struggled with ending his sentence.
“…because they know I’d fight back. That’s the only reason you insult her, isn’t it?”
“I don’t insult Amy. I just make sure she knows that she’s been a fucking embarrassment of a daughter. Mooching off poor Annette here, focusing on art, marrying a wae-nom like you. I can go on-”
Before she could, Sinbad slapped in future mother-in-law across the face. Annette couldn’t even argue with doing that. She would expect and hope for Amy to do worse to Emma, if she was alive.
“What the fuck, Takasugi?” Soo yelled.
He spread his arms out in anger. “Don’t shit-talk about me, and definitely don’t do that about my wife. Are we clear?”
Soo turned to Annette. “I’m gonna try and find your wine cellar,” she mumbled.
“Have fun!” As she headed down the hall, Annette grinned at how she was leading Soo on a trip to nowhere. No one but her and Sinbad knew how to get to the wine racks in the basement.
Annette washed her hands. She just wanted some chili and peace for the rest of the night! But less than two minutes later, she heard Franco arguing about something.
He held Samira and stormed into the kitchen, with Stanley on his heels. Franco’s face was contorted in disgust, while Samira sucked her thumb and didn’t seem aware of anything at all.
“I’m just talking from experience!” Stanley said. “It’s less trouble that way.”
“Context, please,” Annette said. Either of them could answer.
Franco sighed in annoyance. “He said that I should date inside my own race, and break up with Carmen.”
“Eh, she’s black and Lebanese and some sort of ginger. It’s close enough,” Annette said. She then turned towards Stanley. “I bet you have great intentions, Stan, but leave the dating advice to…well, to his mixed mum.”
He approached her and seemed oblivious to anything he had done. “It’s just common sense! I wasted so much time with Soo, and I don’t want a nice young man like Franco to do the same.”
“Dude, not your call,” said Annette. “And good luck finding another African demon to marry. I’m glad I just found a cuddly white guy who loves me.”
“But it almost never works! And now my disappointment of a daughter is marrying…god knows what went into him. I see this failing within a year, tops.”
Annette tried to be reasonable with Stanley. At least he wasn’t being as obvious with his insults. “Well, they’ve been together for over a decade now. I think you’re wrong about this.”
“She’s still a failure of a person. Mingling with demons, not owning a house, never going to college?! This is now what I sent her out here to do.”
“God, and you divorced Soo? You’re basically her,” Annette said.
That seemed to be Stanley’s breaking point. He looked ready to strike Annette, but instead just grumbled.
“I need to find your wine cellar,” he said, almost snarling his words out.
Annette ended up eating dinner quickly with her family. As much as she wanted to take the challenge of Soo and Stanley off Amy’s hands, she had to sit through dinner with them when they came home. Or just book it back to Pearlbrook.
It did leave Annette with a lot of time to herself. She relaxed on her soft brown comforter upstairs, with a good book and absolute silence. She changed into a t-shirt and matching boy shorts too, so she couldn’t get herself involved with polite (?) company again that night!
Bill wheeled himself to the elevator and upstairs. Annette greeted him at the bedroom door with a big hug, burying her face into his shoulder.
“He called me a filthy race-mixer,” Bill said to her.
“You too?” she asked him. “Well, at least they’re not rapists.”
“Never thought we had to lower our standards that much.”
Annette would be content snuggling with Bill for the rest of the night. Even the dirty work of caring for a semi-paraplegic was ten times better than dealing with Amy’s parents for any longer. Heck, Soo had a point. Annette would have more fun hanging out with whatever remained of Emma and Harwood. At least a pair of skeletons wouldn’t call her husband a filthy race-mixer.
There was some commotion downstairs. And Annette had the choice to either not lose her sanity, or eavesdrop.
She peered in through the archway to the dining room. Amy and her family were seated at one of the dining tables, with a pot of chili and no one eating. Stanley sat with his back to her, which was the most important part. But no one else seemed to notice her, as they were all wrapped in a tense, bitter atmosphere.
Julian seemed to be the only one content that whole night. Sure, his grandmother said that his ethnicity was a mess, but Annette would describe it in a similar way.
But meanwhile, Soo had plenty of choice words for her daughter. “I haven’t liked a damn thing I’ve seen here. What’s the matter with you?” She leaned across the table, nearly spitting in Amy’s face. “And I’m growing more suspicious of your so-called ‘landlady.’ Who the hell locks all those rooms?”
“She’s a fine person. That’s all,” Amy muttered.
“I don’t trust anyone who allies themselves with that…jjokbari.” Sinbad growled a bit upon hearing that. “And she seems to love him! And that shady-looking white guy too.”
Amy stiffened her back and pointed a finger at her mum. “And I have trouble trusting people who insult my husband like that. And insult my best friends! Annette’s up against a lot right now…she needs us.”
“This better not be something criminal,” Stanley said, grumbling. “I swear to Jesus, you embarrassed me enough by becoming an art teacher.”
Sinbad interjected. “Yes, it is something criminal. And none of your business.”
Stanley got up from his seat. He flailed his arms around as he spewed out all his anger. “Christ, Amy! I feel sick being in this house now. Taking orders from a filthy demon…I should have guessed you’d stoop that low.”
And he didn’t stop. “You should have just stayed in San Mateo! Maybe I wouldn’t be so ashamed calling you family-”
“Well maybe I don’t need you to be family.”
Amy stood right next to her father, pointing at him. “You know what Annette does? She fights for everyone. And we’re up against the biggest gang in the state. And she still feels more like family than…you! Every time we talk, you just tell me how much of an embarrassment I am!”
“Tear his head off, Amy!” Soo shouted, from across the table.
She turned towards her mother. “Like you’re any better! You spent this whole day saying the same things…and yeah, I remember enough Korean to know exactly what you’re saying about Sinbad. And why? We’re not in Korea. You grew up in Angel City!”
“Geez, I’m just trying to be the helpful one here,” Soo said, rolling her eyes.
“Helpful? You’re just as bad as dad. I don’t even know why you guys divorced.”
All Soo could do was glare off in the distance. Sinbad did too, but having a collection of Korean slurs thrown at him put him in a bad mood for the whole day. No matter what Amy did.
“I’ll get you guys back to Pearlbrook,” Amy said.
Annette found Amy when she arrived back home. She put Julian to bed as soon as she got back, and didn’t notice Annette sneaking into the nursery.
Once Amy turned around, she ran to Annette and fell into her arms. “I’m sorry. I never talk about them, because…you know, I thought they were just normal in comparison to all of your parents.”
Annette just smiled and squeezed her friend tighter. “No…you did a great job tonight.”
A/N: So Amy has parents. Like she’s some sort of mammal, or something! But it was weird to not say anything about them, as we tend to know something about everyone’s parents sooner or later. Her husband can’t take the spotlight for parental issues all the time, now can he? 😛
I did the math, and if Amy’s parents had her in their 20’s, then they could easily be alive. Much to her chagrin, but I digress.
Soo’s choice Korean words are all…pretty obvious insults. Either towards white people or Japanese people (I know that Sinbad is technically “fucking everything” for ethnicity, but if he goes by the Takasugi family name now, there’s no hiding that he’s Japanese). I realize that Korea has had an awful past with Japan, but they’re two Americans. And it’s generally good advice to not insult your future son-in-law in his face. Class analysis trumps personal insults every time. 😉