Scene 2 (in the kitchen. Mom and Aunt are preparing food, Cousin 5 is reading at the kitchen table, doesn’t look up.):
Aunt: What’s all the commotion in the dining room?
Mom: They’re probably just fighting.
Aunt: (rolls eyes) Why’s this night different from all others?
Mom: Well, there’s a bit of news from the other one.
Aunt: What news? You told me he was gay months ago.
Mom: Yeah but (pointing to the dining room) he didn’t know.
Aunt: Your husband wouldn’t care if his son were gay.
Mom: Well, that’s not the problem.
Aunt: What is?
Mom: Well,... remember the boyfriend, Robert Gold?
Mom: It turns out he lied about the boy’s name, the name is Robert GOULD!
Aunt: THE BOYFRIEND’S A GOY!?!
Mom: Shhhhh. Don’t let your husband hear, he might have a heart attack.
Aunt: How can he do this to us?!
Mom: He never cared what we thought. He always did whatever he wanted. Remember when he was three years old and I was pregnant again? Well one day, just a few weeks before I had his sister, I couldn’t find him, so I asked his brother where he was. He told me, ‘he went out to lunch.’ So I went outside and I still couldn’t find him. I start looking down the road and I still couldn’t see him. That was when I realized that he was totally serious. So I ran as fast as I could toward Main Street, screaming his name all the way. When I finally saw him, he was riding his tricycle in the middle of main street, with stopped cars honking their horns as far as the eye could see in either direction. I screamed at him ‘What do you think you’re doing?!’ And he said: I’m going to McDonald’s.
Aunt: Wow. How did you not have the baby right there?
Mom: Who knows? All I know is that was the moment I realized that I would have to watch him with both eyes. By the time I realized the other one needed another two eyes, it was too late.
Aunt: He was always so bright.
Mom: And his whole life, I never knew what to do to help him. We don’t know musicians and writers, we know Jews.
Aunt: Couldn’t one of us help him find some of those people?
Mom: We could if we tried, but why would we ever do that? If we helped him, he’d turn his back on us the way they all do. He might be happier but he’d become just like his brother and hate everything we are.
Aunt: You can’t know that.
Mom: Look at his brother. Y’know I would almost be OK with our sons becoming more assimilated if they actually assimilated. But they wouldn’t be Americans, they’re just America-haters that complain about everything in this country and ignore that this country did everything for them. From the time they were little they both did whatever they wanted and thought they were entitled to it. They never cared that their parents had no lives except taking care of them, and they both live like we’ll be there forever.
Aunt: Well look at your mother. You might be around forever!
Mom: I don’t think I will be. (comes right up to the aunt and says very quietly) I don’t want you to tell anybody this, but the reason I lost all the weight on that diet is that I have Lupus.
Aunt: Oh my god!
Mom: Shhh… I don’t want the kids to know.
Aunt: Well, you’re obviously taking care of yourself.
Mom: But my kids can’t take care of themselves. It’s my fault for not teaching them, but I have to live with the fact that I failed them as a mother. So I have to be around as long as I can.
Aunt: That’s not true at all. You’re the best mother in Baltimore!
Mom: They didn’t need the best mother, they needed a drill sergeant.
Aunt: Well, your husband certainly tried.
Mother: And I should have let him. But he’s such a bully sometimes.
Aunt: He means well, and when push comes to shove he’s a real tzadik.
Mother: A manic-depressive tzadik for sure. He always tells me that I want him to be miserable because the times when he’s miserable are the only times I’m not.
Aunt: (laughs) Was there ever any doubt about that?
Mother: Of course not. But we have parents and children to take care of. And he takes care of them - anything they need: money, laundry, food, cars, apartments, tuition.
Aunt: (jokingly) And he wants every bit of credit for it.
Mother: Yeah, he complains about it every second, but can you blame him? All these years when his Dad was sick. Stroke after stroke, screaming nightmares from both his parents for their years in the camps. All the fights in his house growing up and the breaking furniture.
Aunt: Did you ever wonder if his dad hit his mother?
Mother: Never. Jews yell so they don’t have to hit each other
Aunt: Nobody in my family ever yelled, my parents have just sat in the living room simmering at each other for fifty-eight years.
Mother: Your family was German Jews. Your great-grandparents all got here in the 19th century and moved out to the midwest to run stores. To Jews like us, your family might as well have been goyim.
Aunt: That’s not very nice!
Mother: You should be happy! You had a real American upbringing! The rest of us were just poor Jews in the middle of a neighborhood that became black after the fifties.
Aunt: We had antisemitism too!
Mother: Not the way we did. My family didn’t move out to the suburbs until 1970 - in the sixties the schvartzes harassed me every day. Dad had to drive me and pick me up from college so I wouldn’t get groped on the way home from school.
Aunt: Yeah, that must have been hard. We didn’t have anything like that.
Mother: And I had it easy compared to my husband. He never really had a childhood. All the years in his parents store he would have to help out, stay up late to count the money from the day, get up early to help unload the stocks.
Aunt: And still he skipped two grades.
Mother: A PhD from Toronto back when academia meant something…
Aunt: Why does he hate to talk about it so much?
Mother: He always says he did it for the war. But I think he just did it to get away from his family. But now, I wonder if that brilliant mind of his isn’t going to go sooner than his father’s did. The seizures are getting more frequent.
Aunt: I remember seeing it, it’s pretty scary. But long as you keep taking care of yourself, you’ll be there forever.
Mother: I don’t know that.
Aunt: Your kids still have plenty of time. They will be fine. (beat) Anyway, I know you’ve known about him being gay for months. But how long have you known about the goyfriend?
Mom: From the beginning. I kept the whole thing a secret from his father until he told me to tell him, which was just this week. He didn’t want his father to know about the boy either because he knew his Dad would grill him about it until he got the truth.
Aunt: Well that’s just stupid. He should have told you everything right away.
Mom: He knew we’d try to break them up.
Aunt: Yeah, well, so what? There are plenty of gay Jews out there.
Mom: You know him. If we tell him he can only date a Jew, he’ll go through every schkotz in New York.
Aunt: But all those girls from college… Not a single shikse.
Mom: Yeah. He probably slept his way through the entire Hillel house.
Aunt: How did he even find time for studying?
Mom: I don’t think he did. He was just one of those kids who could do the reading five minutes before class and ace the test.
Aunt: That’s weird. I never thought of him as the type to cut corners.
Mom: Well, apparently he still likes things uncut…
Aunt: That’s horrible. (beat) But he was never the smart one. How did he turn out so well and your other one crap up so badly?
Mom: (half-heartedly chuckles) Well, the other one always joked that he sold his birthright to his brother for a bowl of soup.
Aunt: I don’t get it… you mean like Esau did to Jacob?
Mom: Yeah. He keeps repeating that joke it’s hilarious, but nobody ever seems to get most of his jokes but him.
Aunt: Did you ever test him for some kind of autistic spectrum, like Asperger’s?
Mom: We did, he has some traits in common, but if he has anything like that it’s mild. Between you and me, I always wondered if he had Borderline Personality Disorder.
Aunt: Don’t say that! That’s horrible!
Mom: You’ve never really seen how bad his temper gets.
Aunt: Well I’ve seen flashes of it, and I’ve certainly heard all about it, but you should have seen the way my sister got when she was younger.
Mom: Yeah,... y’know, about that, I know this is none of my business.
Aunt: (interrupting) Don’t start with that. You have no idea what she put me through. I know everybody gets along your family. But she’s crazy.
Mom: (beat) Have you taken a good look around here?
Aunt: She hasn’t thrown away a single article of paper in thirty years. She doesn’t have anyone come over. She’s never had a job and now that Mom is dead she moved into Mom’s apartment with only her crap for company.
Mom: But that sounds incredibly sad.
Aunt: I know it’s sad, but you can’t talk to her without her blowing up. She can’t even be in the presence of mustard!
Mom: If you want, I’ll…
(Interrupted by the entrance of Brother 2 and Cousin 3)