My mother has two sisters, both significantly younger than herself. The middle sister, Evelyn, always had a taste for the finer things in life. Though they were raised dirt-poor, she declared at a very young age that if she did nothing else with her life, she would marry rich. She met Rich in college. Rich, a good and decent man who loves and is loved by Evelyn quite genuinely, has provided her with a 6 bedroom house in Carolina, a log cabin in New England, a beachhouse in Florida, and a vacation home in Britain.
Though my mother had children late in life, the age difference meant that my brothers and I came before Evelyn would spawn any of her own. As we grew up, Aunt Evelyn was a constant critic of the way that we were raised. She was never anything but nice to us, but she felt that my mother was doing everything all wrong. We didn’t need to go to prep school as long as the public schools were good.
Mom thought that as long as we went to church, it didn’t matter if we didn’t wear a coat and tie in the hot southern heat. Mom thought that as long as we were home in time for supper, she didn’t have to know exactly where we were every moment of the day. Evelyn, to say the least, did not agree. Every way that we strayed ever-so-slightly from the formal way that they were raised was grooming us for social failure. Every compromise was a compromise of integrity.
Gregory dropped out of school at 16 to become a rock star. Rich and Evelyn responded by sending Gregory off to military school, where he lasted less than a semester and was kicked out for dealing drugs. With threats having failed, they turned to bribery. They sent him off to music school, where he was also kicked out. He didn’t want to become a musician, he wanted to be a rock star.
He moved in with a girlfriend (which would have thrown my mother into orbit, there’s no telling how Evelyn responded) before catching her cheating on him and then moving back home. The initial thought was that time at home could do Gregory good, but Greg found some other place to be and she started getting the distinct impression that he might be doing drugs. He had somehow managed to convince them that it had been a misunderstanding before. Evelyn told her maid about her suspicions but also that she hadn’t found any drugs. In a scene right out of a sitcom, the maid darted across the room and found the stash in the third place that she looked, hiding in some shoes on a shelf in the closet.
Gregory decided to pursue his music career in Amsterdam, which his parents gladly funded hoping that he might find something there that he hadn’t in the US. Instead, they found that they were a lot happier when he was far away. He eventually came back to the US and they set him up in Boston.
He has a two-bedroom apartment all to himself in downtown Boston. He has a job as a real estate agent, though I get the feeling that he misses more days than he makes. He’s getting tired of the Boston scene so he’s thinking about getting an apartment in Manhatten. Decisions, decisions. His parents don’t care as long as he isn’t moving back to Carolina.
Malcolm is a less tragic case. Having dealt with one emergency after another with Gregory, they were too worn out to spend too much time parenting Malcolm. They just bought him what he wanted and because Mal wasn’t the rebel that Gregory was, it sufficed. Even so, Malcolm never went to college opting instead to go to art school and work in production design. He’s not a criminal, though he’s not really much of anything else, either.
As far as I know Mom has not lorded it over on Aunt Evelyn. Her revenge has been a quiet one. Two of the three Truman boys married acceptably. We all got college degrees and we all hold full time jobs. Of the three of us, I’m the screw-up and I was more at 22 than either of my cousins are today.