Families, each and every one of them, are crazy. Believe me, I have plenty of stories about my family, but it’s so much fun to pick on someone else’s family that I have to indulge.
My friend, let’s call him Bill, has great tales that rival any Lifetime made-for-TV movies. Having seen pictures of each family member, here’s how I would cast the movie:
Kathy Bates as Mom: This pillar-of-society woman once held a position of power and influence, but now she’s on the prowl looking for a plot of land to build a “compound” of some sorts.
Omar Sharif as Dad: An old school Lebanese gentleman with a passion for unbuttoned Hawaiian shirts and a weakness for flashy women
Meredith Baxter Birney (before she ditched Birney) as Stepmom: Above referenced flashy woman, with a passion for Jello shots and men wearing unbuttoned Hawaiian shirts
Kristy McNichol as Daughter: A beautiful, sweet young woman with a passion for other beautiful young women and a specific dislike of men wearing Hawaiian shirts, unbuttoned or otherwise, and their drunk flashy wives
Dean Cain as Son: Once a wise-cracking juvenile delinquent with a penchant for electronics, now a wise-cracking adult with a passion for men not wearing shirts and a rarely diagnosed Big Daddy/Sugar Daddy disorder
Alice Ghostly (as Bernice from Designing Women) as Elderly Aunt: Dad’s sister. A sweet but nutso old lady with a passion for church and a love-but-don’t-like relationship with her brother; sadly, battling a fatal illness
Dog as Neurotic Dog: Once just a neurotic puppy, now a full grown Neurotic Dog with a passion for fire hydrants, slippers and rabbits
Their story is filled with passion and pathos, drama and melodrama, hummus and pita bread.
Opening Scene: Dad, smelling of bad hummus and flashy women, packing to leave his family. Mom wild-eyed and chain smoking, whispering sweet nothings to her lover on the other end of the phone. Daughter, prophetically, watching Kristy McNichol movies. Son, staring dreamily at a poster of David Cassidy and fiddling with a couple of Radio Shack gadgets that allow him to record Mom’s lustful conversations.
Scene II: Thanksgiving dinner, Mom throws a turkey because Son is gay and refuses to cease and desist (see When Turkeys Fly, November 21); Mom discovers daughter is a lesbian and lobs a rather lovely stuffed goose. Mom realizes she is repressing her own attraction to women and throws a rack of lamb. Neurotic Dog confesses he is attracted to rabbits and wishes he was born with floppy ears and a cotton tail and Mom throws a side of beef. Dad long gone, no longer dodging flying proteins.
Scene III: Mom in Appalachians looking for land to build her compound. She has heavy artillery and 300 rounds of ammo for personal protection. Dream sequence, Mom sees the perfect patch of land but then sees Janet Reno, with really heavy artillery and 600 rounds of ammo to enforce the ideals of justice. Dream skips ahead and Mom is making out with Janet Reno. Mom wakes up slightly uncomfortable. Janet Reno wakes up smelling of gun powder and cheap perfume. Neurotic Dog wakes up wishing he was a rabbit.
Scene IV: Dad sitting in high quality La-Z-Boy in Elderly Aunt’s living room. Dad tries to take the chair with him but fatally ill Elderly Aunt tackles him and shoos him out the door. Dad, face in the window, asks Elderly Aunt if he can have chair when she dies. Elderly Aunt pulls curtains and sends Dad letter-she is leaving all money and La-Z-Boy to church.
Scene V: Dad bedridden after back surgery, popping narcotics. Stepmom falling down drunk; Dad and Stepmom get into a vicious argument. Stepmom in kitchen, the sound of Dad screaming from upstairs. Stepmom grabs 7 cans of Progresso soup and can opener, deposits them on Dad’s nightstand, disappears for a week. Dad both angry and bewildered, pops more pills and learns to love minestrone.
Final Scene: Mom, sitting in the dark with a loaded gun. Shadowy tall odd-shaped figure in doorway, suggestive of Janet Reno. Dad, lying in bed in dirty Hawaiian shirt; 7 empty soup cans on nightstand. Stepmom, drunk and half naked dances on table at biker bar. Daughter dresses Neurotic Dog in leotard, takes him to yoga class then acupuncture treatment. Neurotic Dog prays hot rabbit down the street doesn’t see him. Son with Elderly Aunt, bolts La-Z-Boy to floor.
The End? Not by a long shot.