We had arranged the meeting months ago, long before we knew of H’s condition, but now it felt like the perfect timing. Justin was ill, but the girls and Jasper all travelled to my place on Saturday to spend the weekend together.
So I picked them up at lunchtime from the bus and train stations; it was then that I was suddenly assigned a new moniker. Jasper’s inability to pronounce Chris’ name when he was younger led to him calling her by a shortened version of her middle name: JuJu. Given that Louise is sometimes called LouLou, Chris jokingly said that maybe we should all call each other by the abbreviated version of our (middle) names, which would mean “SaSa” for me – to which I replied, “I am definitely more Zsa Zsa than SaSa”. I am not sure why, but … the name stuck. I was suddenly Zsa Zsa for the rest of the weekend (the fact that the girls found out that I have a feather boa in my wardrobe did not help), and by midnight (and after a copious amount of alcohol) they had even chosen a theme song for me. I am supposed to work out a choreo for our next meeting, with the incorporation of the feather boa being a given. The supplement “Rustle Queen” actually derives from a conversation we already had at H’s memorial ceremony, but the explanation is too convoluted to be detailed in a blog post.
And yet, Zsa Zsa is still better than Jen’s new name: When we realised that Jen is the only one without a middle name, we quickly re-christened her “Jen Nifer” – with the short version being “Niffy”. Fredi also accidentally renamed herself by stating that Jasper is known for being “Annakova” (it was a bit of a mondegreen, actually), so the girl group line-up is now complete: Niffy, Zsa Zsa, Annakova, JuJu and LouLou are available for bookings; dance moves require an extra fee.
After the luggage had been safely stored at my place, we went to the city centre for lunch; it took the others just about 30 minutes to finally decide on their meals (in their defence, the menu was about 15 pages long and full of interesting stuff). The waitress displayed an impressive amount of patience, but considering that she suddenly switched to another area after our order, it was maybe a sign that we had tested her to the limit. When it came to splitting the bill, the others mocked me when I started reciting Fredi’s order – only for me to actually come to her (and Louise’s) rescue when neither of them could remember what they had ordered. Yes, you may make fun of me, but at least my short-term memory still works!
We bought some alcohol in a supermarket where Jasper apparently found us by our smell; usually we are detectable by our noise, but this time I would put the blame squarely on “Niffy”. After getting some ice cream, we walked home along the Lake Aa; it was a beautiful day, with sunshine and temperatures in the high 20s, so after arriving home, we moved my dining table to the balcony and sat there for the next 7 hours. Drinks were mixed, new beer brands were tried, pizza was ordered, chocolate was consumed. I had explained to the others that this was my “cheat day”, something Fredi understood as “shit day”; given the food I consume on these days, she is not too far off.
We googled holiday homes for the next big family meeting, realising that it is rather tricky to find a house for 25+ people; we then moved on to bands and lyrics (with me mixing up Blur and Radiohead; I blame the carb binge). To practice for our upcoming world tour, we belted out some tunes from the 80s and 90s, starting with Bonnie Tyler, moving on to the Spice Girls, and somehow ending with a heartfelt rendition of “Barbie Girl”. We stopped when the neighbours started to noisily let down their shutters.
I had been fretting about the sleeping arrangements, but in the end, everything worked out just fine: Jen and I shared my bed, Fredi and Jasper took the guest room, and Lou and Chris set up camp in the living room. What I hadn’t expected, though, was Jen’s ability to a) fall asleep within 2 minutes of going to bed (I need at least 20 minutes to even settle in a comfortable position when trying to sleep) and b) start snoring immediately afterwards. Yes, she had told me about her snoring beforehand, but I had no idea it was that bad. I tried every trick known to mankind, but she steadily soldiered on, driving me insane in the process. I finally fell asleep in the early morning hours, after contemplating whether I could suffocate her in her sleep if I based my defence on mitigating circumstances.
I must have expressed my discomfort more adamant than I was aware of: The next morning, Jen told me that I had hit her repeatedly on the back of the head, “while you were sleeping – your right arm across my face and your head underneath your pillow!” I honestly have no recollection of that. What I do remember is me kicking her almost out of the bed in my dozy attempts to silence her – though this is something Jen can’t recall.
While this makes us sound like the most dysfunctional family ever, we actually have a fantastic bond: There was a Mexican wave for Jasper and me by the other four when we waited for them at a traffic light, and a happy dance performed for Fredi (and several amused pedestrians) when she tried to clean the chocolate ice cream off Jasper. There were also lots of hugs and kisses, especially by me; I am definitely the most tactile one, bordering on touchy-feely behaviour. Our relationship can best be described by a sign we saw when we walked past a little shop downtown: “We are family: Always remember that when you fall, I will help you to get up – as soon as I have stopped laughing”.