My Aunt Nelly in a word was insane. She had her hair dyed white blonde, and would rack up the phone bills calling The Psychic Friend’s Network when it was on television in the 1990s. Aunt Nelly was the one who turned me onto astrology, tarot, and other things. She even fashioned her own Ouija Board. We had fun playing with it, but my father reminded us that we were Catholics and were to engage in no such things. He said it was the gate to hell. But we all knew my Aunt Nelly was insane. She insisted that her dead husband, the one she cheated on to no end, haunted her basement. He walked there with her dead mother that she never got along with either.
According to her, Aunt Nelly’s dead husband was much too controlling. And her dead mother was too judgmental, but in the afterlife everyone had become good friends. While this was quite the revelation, Robert Stack and the crew of Unsolved Mysteries was nowhere to be found.
One day we were having some sort of backyard party, I think it was for my sister’s first Communion. My grandfather, who at this point still worked full time and played tennis was in attendance at this affair. I have insane family members, so he has the patient of a saint. My Aunt Nelly and my grandfather struck up a conversation. They talked out their kids. My grandfather talked about all six of his. He mentioned my mother was a champion swimmer, my uncle a lawyer, my other aunt married a dentist and had a daughter who was trying to be a professional ballerina. Of course there was my other aunt who was in dental school, and then the other aunt who was a periodic actress. And then there was my uncle, a high school art teacher who was trying to sell his paintings. Of course he also mentioned my grandmother, who while quite insane was a poet and was currently trying to get her work published.
Then it came to my Aunt Nelly’s kids.
Aunt Nelly mentioned she had four. Her first was a daughter who she said refused to speak to her. Apparently, when my Aunt Nelly left her husband, her daughter took offense and asked, “Why is my mother such a whore and why does she dress in provocative clothing?”
Then she mentioned another daughter, who grinned and beared my aunt. Apparently they had come to some peace, only if my Aunt Nelly was forbidden to talk about her estrogen treatments, her sex life with my Uncle Vince, and the fact that both her dead mother and dead husband were friends in her basement.
Then there was a son who actually had a good relationship with my aunt, probably because he lived in California, hardly called, and visited once a year.
That’s when she came to her last son, her so called problem child by the name of Dan. According to my Aunt Nelly, Dan had been a rebellious teen who one day had disappeared. He was walking behind a car. My aunt had apparently called the police. There was no rhyme or reason for why he had just up and left. And when they turned their heads he was gone. A search was put out and the young man was never found. Eight months later she got a call from the mountains in Colorado. Apparently, he was on a lot of drugs and had been living in a commune with a gay cult. When she asked Dan how he got there he was unsure. He said he didn’t remember. But after watching a special on television and deducing the clues my Aunt Nelly had come to one conclusion, her son had been abducted by aliens.
My grandfather stared in disbelief. My Aunt Nelly continued to explain that her son had never previously been gay but now he was gay and this was the only way she could explain it. When she confronted her son with the evidence he agreed. Apparently he had been in the parking lot when the aliens had just snatched him. When they snatched him they had introduced him to an alien God and once he got the message he was dropped back onto the planet into this gay cult. According to my aunt the UFOs were the reason her child was gay, did drugs, and chanted in tongues when he spoke about God. This was all too much for my grandfather who, despite being the nicest little old man with the tolerance level of a saint. He got up, told her to shut up, and walked away. My sister and I exchanged a glance of what.
Afterwards he told my mother never to invite the woman who he classified as “absolutely dreadful” to a party he was at again. This says a lot because at the time my grandfather had my Aunt Rhonda in the house, who worked all the Renaissance Faires and would be in fairy character around the house. He dealt with that peacefully. However, this was all just too much for him.
My grandfather, always well ahead of his time said, "The kid's gay. I don't see any problem with that. The problem that I see is that his mother is a nutcase."
My brother made some remark about how Sally Struthers was perhaps my Aunt Nelly’s true Lord and Savior and that this was the message her son carried from the space ship. Then my mom informed us it has been much worse. During an adults only gathering at her home, my Aunt Nelly invited her problem child Dan who testified to his alien abduction, talked about life on the spaceship, and left everyone aghast.
My dad chimed in, “Anne, you should tell your dad that it could have been worse. Not only did we get to see Dan testify to his alien abduction but then he showed us the place in the back of his skull where they probed him shortly before he became gay once and for all.”
There was a silence in the room. My mom just said, “Bill, I think we will leave that detail out for my dad. He’s been through enough.”
Needless to say we never did meet Dan. Some people are in denial about what makes their child gay. Others accept it. I think this was a bizarre mixture of both. My aunt was accepting of her gay son, but she was blaming the flying saucers for the fact he liked men just as much as she did. Either way, it seems they were praying to the aliens.
I Came, I Saw, I Sang: Memoirs of a Singing Telegram Delivery Girl