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Family Dinner

by Eleanor Ball

Word’s spreading in the family group chats that Aunt Grace might be a lesbian and Uncle Ron’s MS is in remission and ItalianFest isn’t happening anymore. It was like a family reunion where someone else went to all the expense and all you had to do was show up and drink. 

[Lisa] Like our funerals! Our funerals are so good. Have you ever been to one of our funerals? All we do is drink. Do you remember Uncle Mario’s funeral? Uncle Mario was a gem.

Mary Corsi is still drop-dead gorgeous and Charlie Falbo got fired and Lisa dated two of the Tursi boys in the 90s. She pushed one off a bike and made the other cry.

[Lisa] You know, on the south side, you have to be careful about degrees of separation. Don’t want to accidentally end up dating a third cousin. I once went on a date with a Mauro boy who was one degree too close for comfort . . . mm-mm! [drinks] Never again. What about you?


Yes! Are you dating anyone right now? Have you met a cute guy?

[Mom, quickly] Or a girl?

[Lisa, quickly] Or a non-binary?

[Mom, quickly] Or an . . . anything?

Not really. It’s not a good time. I’m graduating in December and don’t know what I’m doing after that. I could end up in Durham or Iowa City or . . .

[Lisa taps her temple] You can’t time love.

I can try.

Well, come on, what kinds of people do you like? 


I mean, what’s your type?

[Mom cuts in] WHEN are you moving back to Iowa?

You’re always trying to drag me back!

You bet I am.

What’s going on in Des Moines nowadays? Is it fun? Are people socially conscious? Are there demonstrations?

There were BLM protests last year and the Women’s March when Trump won and one about Roe v. Wade I went to last week. 

[everyone sighs]

[Lisa shows us Instagram pictures of her at Black Lives Matter protests in Denver.] It was so beautiful. The speakers were so inspirational. I collected a half-dozen rubber bullets. I think I still have them around somewhere. [another drink] You know what else is beautiful about Denver? Pride. Everyone’s hugging and touching each other. I’m not gay myself but I love gay people. I think I was gay in another life. 

Des Moines has a MONTH of Pride celebrations. Every day there’s something happening. Since we moved, the main parade’s been RIGHT in our neighborhood. I went this year because I ran into it on my afternoon jog. 

It’s so crazy in Denver. Everyone’s wearing these wild clothes and there are so many different flags. You can wear whatever you want. [shimmies] 

[Mom nudges me] You should have come with me this year. You could have spent time with your mama. And maybe met some people! 

[Lisa] You know, if you end up in Iowa City, it’s a big party town. You could meet lots of new people. Anyone you want. Even . . . well, even aliens! [drinks] Our funerals are just big parties, you know. They’re so beautiful. Have you ever been to a funeral?

Q: Have you ever been to a funeral?


Our funerals are funerals our funerals are

damp Church basements, stale cheese and crackers, nothing else to say,

space/time separation, grief incinerating you alone, trapped in houses like cages, can’t cross state lines, can’t say goodbye in-person, can’t say hello at all. Nothing else to do.

They’re so good, they’re so tragic, they’re so thoughts-and-prayers, they’re so beautiful. They’re so dead.

At least, I still have myself around here somewhere. I think.

I think St. Peter has lowered his standards, but only for straight people.

I think in another life, my love unfolds into a more forgiving shape. 

I am not glitter in the face of apocalypse, I am 

the last one standing / overlooked / undeserving / turning out the last light / raising the last glass  

and smashing it. 

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