Oh, fuck. I lean back in my chair and try to make eye contact with one of my relatives. "Someone plug Poppy back in."
"Oh, no, what's wrong? Is it--"
"Poppy? Is Poppy okay?"
"His leash," I call over there, "you gotta plug it back in."
Tom starts snickering, "Poppy unplugged, live in New York!"
"What's the sound?"
"You need to reattach his leash."
Tom leans towards me. "Rass? Rass, did you hear that? I said, 'Poppy unplugged, live in New York!' You know, like--"
"Yeah, like the MTV show, I get it,” I give a little false giggle and call over to my aunt. “See the thing clipped to his shirt?"
Proud of his joke, Tom yells over to his dad. You'd think for an educated family man in his thirties, he would be mentally beyond re-shouting one-liners until he got his desired crowd reaction. "Dad. Dad. DAD. You know how Rass said to plug Poppy back in? Ha. Well I go--"
"No, I don't," Aunt Mary is absolutely frantic, "see it...anywhere--"
Uncle Dick starts getting pissy. “It’s not like it’s the end of the goddamn world, just plug the old bastard back in.”
My aunt’s hands are quaking as she searches Poppy’s sleeves. “But I don’t know—“
“Dad? Dad?” Uncle Dick hollers over to Poppy, who’s fast asleep. “Show ‘er where it is.”
"Just below his shoulder,” I say. I had to plug him in earlier. Granted, I figured that shit out after about two seconds.
"Turn the television down." Nonny stops ripping her precious floral Mother’s Day cards for a minute and looks slowly up from her plate of crumbs and scraps of our love, Hallmark-style.
My dad rushes over to her. “Ma? Those cards are presents for you. For Mother’s Day.”
“Oh, okay. Why are you so fat?” Nonny giggles and shakily punches her son in the gut with her feeble gray hand.
"Hold on, I'm coming over there." I stand up and start shoving chairs aside, I don't care if there's someone sitting in them or not.
My cousin’s son blocks my path. He’s seventeen, autistic, and upset by the commotion, so he slips into a continuing loop of repeating his newest joke. “Poppy is unplugged, but that’s okay because I just saved a bunch of money on car insurance by switching to Geico.”
I just do not want to hear that goddamn eeeping sound anymore. I clap my hand on Drew's shoulder and try to guide him out of my way. “Nice one, Drew.”
“Thank you, thank you, but it’s okay, because I just saved a bunch of money on car insurance—“
My aunt sighs in relief. "Oh, found it. What do I—“
"There's a little magnetic plate--"
"Got it." My aunt snaps the leash into place.
Eeeeep. Eeeeep. Silence.
“Poppy plugged? Gee, Pop, when did you decide to go electric?” Tom laughs at his own highly original hilarity and turns to his brother, bragging out of the corner of his mouth. “Get it? Because before? I go um...I go, ‘Poppy unplugged, live—‘”
I sit down in the nearest chair and give a thumbs-up and to the nurse standing in the doorway, who nods, thankful her patient didn’t get out of the wheelchair she magnetically leashed onto him to ensure he wouldn’t crumble his gangrenous foot when trying to stand.
The nurse smiles, and points at my grandparents before walking away. I turn to look at them, just in time to catch Nonny clutching her dentures, happily licking the food stuck between pearly whites.
Like a Labrador with a bone.
Happy Belated Mother’s Day.