The annual Martin family reunion. Today’s get-together is outdoors, on the Choctawhatchee Bay. Long ago, my wife’s family used to have a trailer here under the oaks. It’s a house now.
“How’s my lipstick?” my wife asks.
“Do I have red on my teeth?”
“Nope, you’re good.”
She dabs the corner of her mouth.
There are about fifty Martins here. These are loud, happy, expressive people. Devout Southern Baptists who drink a little.
My mother-in-law (Mother Mary) is decked out. Her white hair is fixed pretty. She leans onto her roller-walker, sipping sweet tea.
Now and then, she pauses to reapply lipstick. This is her big thing. Lipstick. She listens to a conversation, then smiles and says, “Wait a minute,” and reapplies lipstick.
Jesus Christ could return and Mother Mary would ask him to wait a minute while she reapplied her Bobbi Brown matte lip color.
Mother Mary is looking sporty. She wears a blue-and-white hairline striped shirt, tied sleeves, hoop earrings, and eyeliner.
“How’s my lipstick?” she whispers.
“It’s good,” I say.
“Do I have any on my teeth?”
“I don’t know, say ‘cheese.’”
She wipes. “How about now?”
“Wipe it off it for me.”
“What am I, a cabana boy?”
It’s loud. The yard is full of chattering people. Everyone holds Styrofoam cups, they are all engaged in the art of conversation.
Elderly people are natural talkers, and that’s what I love about them. You’ll hear tales of the old days, updates on grandchildren, horror stories about hip surgeries, and breakthroughs in the field of blood pressure treatment.
You’ll hear gossip, too.
“Did you hear about Sister So-And-So?” one says. “She lost enough weight to make a ten-year-old.”
“Did you hear about Billy Bob Bradley? He just got released from prison last week.”