Monday, September 25, 2006

The Mama Gin Files: Home Improvements - Part 2

Ruby with Mama Gin

I love George’s sister Ruby. She is my favorite sister-in-law. She is also just about the biggest character I’ve ever known.

Ruby went to Erasmus high school in Brooklyn, and graduated just a few years after Barbra Streisand. I tell you this just to give you an idea of what it’s like when she speaks. Imagine Fran Drescher’s voice coming out of a 5’4” Chinese-American woman, and you’ve pretty much got the picture.

Ruby has a tendency to go on & on about things, which drives George up the wall. But for some reason, it doesn’t bother me, mainly because I am just so fascinated by the way she talks and by the amusing way she phrases everything. To give you an example, here is an excerpt of one of her tirades about her ex-boyfriend, Kenny:

He’s so lazy. His idea of a good time is to come over to my apartment and jump into my bed in his underweahs. So I says to him “Kenny, why do you always have to jump into my bed in your underweahs? Why don’t you take me out or somethin?” So now he comes over and takes me to dinnah and a movie. And then he comes back and jumps into my bed in his undeweahs. So finally I says to him “Kenny! Get your drippy dick out of my bed!”

Ruby lives about ten blocks from us, so we see her a lot. Unfortunately, Ruby’s relationship with Mama Gin is even worse than George’s. “Worse” is an understatement, actually. I’m talking about a really bad relationship. They get along about as well as Hitler and Golda Meir would have. Think Ann Coulter and Susan Sarandon. Jesus and Satan. In fact, Ruby feels about Mama Gin the way Courtney Love does about a shower. Utter repulsion.

Ruby and Mama Gin generally can’t be in the same room for ten minutes before one of them is screaming and/or hurling blunt objects at the other. I have actually witnessed the two of them coming to blows.

So by this point you’re probably wondering “what does this Mama Gin Files installment have to do with home improvement?” Well, I’m about to tell you the mother of all home improvement stories.

Ruby is a school teacher, and usually takes her summers off. So, one summer when George wanted to do some remodeling in the large entryway of the house, he hired Ruby to paint for him.

This was no ordinary paint job. This job involved tall ladders, days of scraping off peeling paint, and long-arm rollers. Due to the sheer height of the ceilings in the main entryway, this was one of those jobs you’re only too glad to outsource. And Ruby, who is handy with any sort of artwork, was happy to step in.

The only problem was the Mama Gin factor. This time, unlike my previous painting story, there would be no apartment for Ruby to hide in. No door to bolt, no apartment to lock, no window to cover. She would be right out in the open, at Mama Gin’s mercy, for eight hours a day.

I was quite worried about this, but George simply decided that Ruby would have to make her own decisions on how to handle her mother.

As it turns out, I had good reason to worry.

The afternoon of Ruby’s first day on the job, I called in to check our answering machine and heard the following message from Lenore, our upstairs tenant. I could hear a faint commotion going on in the background.

Ummm, George? This is Lenore. I’m not sure what to do here. There’s this Chinese woman doing some work in the hallway, and she’s screaming at your mother. At the top of her lungs. It’s really loud. It sounds like it might get violent if it hasn’t already. I’m really freaked out and I’m afraid to leave the apartment. Do you know who this person is? I’m thinking I might call the police. Please call me as soon as you get this – I don’t know what to do.

It seems that Mama Gin came out into the hallway to keep Ruby “company” while she worked. “Keeping her company” apparently involved standing at the bottom of the ladder for about two hours straight saying “why you scrape ceiling? Don’t scrape ceiling. Paint dry, paint fall off, no good. Don’t paint ceiling, no good. Too hot. Paint melt off wall. Why you paint? You no good paint. Your cousin paint better. Get cousin to paint. Where Georgie? Why Georgie not paint? Georgie get marry? Tom have gurlfriend. He marry, move out. Don’t paint. Why you scrape? Scrape no good. Paint melt, don’t paint. You fall off ladder, no good. Why Georgie no have gurlfriend? Don’t paint!”

Ruby tried her best to block it out, but finally couldn’t take it any more. That’s when she started screaming, terrifying our tenants in the process.

“Moooooothaaaaaaahhhhh!!!!!!!! Shaaaaaaaddddddddddddddddaaaaaap!!!!!!!!!!! Shhaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaatttttttttttttttt aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaappppp!!!!! Shaaaaadddddddddaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaap!!!!!!!!”

Apparently she had quite the little breakdown.

The funniest part is that it had no effect on Mama Gin, who would launch right back in to her lecturing the second Ruby stopped screaming.

Lenore was able to calm down once she realized it was just George’s sister in the hallway. All the same, I think she found somewhere else to spend her time for the next few days until Ruby was able to complete the job.

Next on board: CP & George remodel their kitchen, to the horror of Mama Gin.


Anonymous said...

Gee and I thought my relationsship with my mom is bad. She is the typical German and generally by the time we get her luggage I am ready to put her back on the plane. She is really good at ignoring you when she is pissed. I guess thats a blessing compared to Mama Gin.

lulu said...

Ruby does have a great voice.

Your poor tenant, she must feel like she has wandered onto the set of some sort of Lifetime movie gone terribly terribly wrong.

Beth said...

Please, oh please, let me join the next family dinner. I gotta see Mama Gin in action. I can pretend to be your gurlfriend or your newly adopted (and quite old) daughter.

Old Lady said...

Um, CP are those barrels empty?

Dale said...

Rather than watchng HBO you might want to think about shopping your Mama Gin stories around. Frightening and funny really works.

Coaster Punchman said...

Katy, I'm thinking Joan Crawford in a room full of wire hangers might be easier to take than Mama Gin. But I'd like to hear why you want to ship your mom back before you've even retrieved her luggage.

Lifetime? I'm thinking more like Sc-Fi, Lu.

If you think you can pull it off, you're more than welcome, Beth!

Old Lady, those barrels contain the remnants of our apartment after a horrible disaster. Ugh. Don't make me go into that right now. I beg you. I will get to it eventually. Ugh.

That's a good thought, Dale. Many would enjoy watching this on TV. I'd have to get an all-Asian production staff however, so that I wouldn't be attacked for being racist. Even George loves Mrs. Swan.

Old Lady said...

Um, CP, empty a barrel and poke holes in it and let your imagination run WILD!

jin said...

LMAO @ your Courtney Love comparison!!!

That is sooo funny. The way you tell it, it's like we're all there watching the events, without getting hit or yelled at!!!

(Still no picture...have you had any luck? I asked my Mom again today...she said "JENNIFER! You didn't throw them ALL AWAY, DID YOU?!!?" Heeheeeeeee. Maybe I should be a criminal. I seem to be good at getting rid of things!)

Jacob's Mom said...

"you killed my faatha, you gave him cansar" Can't wait to meet Ruby.

Dale said...

Call up Margaret Cho's people and see what you can work out CP.

And I want to interview her for my short film *The Real Mama Gin* available only on the dvd extras.

Coaster Punchman said...

Old Lady, and what should I do - roll down Niagara Falls in it? Or maybe put Mama Gin in it? Oh, I get it!

Jin, I did find the picture and it's just as scary as I remember. I hope you come up with something. Maybe you can create one out of cake frosting.

Oh, and Ruby will have all sorts of advice for you Marg. "You should eat gahlic, it will help you heal. Do you do yoga? You should do yoga. I can get some fresh gahlic for you from my friends the gahlic farmahs." etc. etc.

You want to interview Margaret Cho or Mama Gin, Dale? I do have a direct connection to Margaret Cho, and now you're giving me ideas. Even if she is the original "crazy Asian parent" comedian, maybe she wouldn't mind sharing the spotlight.

Anonymous said...

because it only takes her a few minutes to totally insult me and piss me off. She is the type that always complains and nothing is ever good enough (to my face)

Coaster Punchman said...

Well at least she's efficient! Doesn't waste any time, does she?

Dale said...

As soon as I hit the button, I realized that wasn't clear. I meant interview Mama Gin but I'll definitely have a word with Ms. Cho as well. I went to see her here in I'm The One That I Want and loved it. How did I know you'd know her? You're better connected than a lot of dots I've seen.

Coaster Punchman said...

I don't know Margaret directly, but I know someone who knows her. So she's basically one phone call away, at least if I could convince my friend to give me her number. She was at one of his parties once, but she came (as a joke) as a "celebrity" followed around by a film crew. So I never got a chance to talk to her because she was busy holding court. God damn those Hollywood fags, they won't let you get a word in edgewise.

As for interviewing Mama Gin, if you want to find the ultimate exercise in maddening futility, that would be it.

Tumuli said...

Between your family and your in-laws, you have the ideal concept for a quirky drama or hilarious sitcom...

Coaster Punchman said...

I know - it would be a real tragicomedy.

poor george said...

I liken my upbringing to some of the truly dysfunctional early Star Trek episodes, except my episodes are all told from the perspective of the Klingons.