The Great Betrayal of 2018
My grandma makes homemade wine. Its colour is cloudy, and according to several eye-witness accounts, tastes like paint thinner. She has a cup every day with dinner- we joke that It's a vitality potion, being near eighty-eight and still ass bright eyed as ever. But, for the fact it drinks like gin and less than a cabernet, my family does not drink it.
They bring their own bottle to thanksgiving, and this year was no different.
"Did you check the expiration on this?" My mother asks, her face pulled into a grimace and hand to her chest like it might be her undoing.
My aunt grabs for the bottle, confusion pinching her eyebrow. "Wine doesnt have an expiration, I don't think." But checks it over thoroughly anyway.
"It tastes horrible!" Mom exclaims, reaching over to steal my 7-up.
"Hey!" I crow around a mouthful of stuffing and cranberry sauce. "Thats mine!"
"It's not expired," My aunt confirms, completing undermining my betrayal. "Here, Joe, try it." She says, passing it to her husband who pours a finger into his cup.
My brother all but leaps from his chair, his grin shit eating. "Can I try?"
My other brother cuffing his head is the resounding no.
"Woah!" My uncle coughs, slamming the glass down onto the table. "You sure this is wine?" He asks.
The three parents eye each other, and then the bottle, and then their cups in case there might be errant rat poison lining them.
My eldest brother (the do-gooder) pours himself some, holding it above his head and surveying it beneath the light like he was in a labratory, craning his neck in every which way before pulling his gaze back. He blinks, and blinks again. He looks to my grandma who has been suspiciously quiet, usually asking for an interpration of our foolishness in her language, but is now sitting and eating like she doesnt even know were there,
Without preamble, he grabs for her wine. She doesnt bat an eye, which is all the stranger. We all know not to just take her things, if we aren't yearning for a slipper to the face as reward for bad manners.
My brother surveys the two cups under the light, but they don't look quite the same. Maybe it's her cup, thats tinted from living through both wars and the Great Depression. "Colin go grab the bottle." He commands my cousin, who grouses from his turkey dinner but follows the order and goes to the cupboard we all know and fear to unearth the comically sized green bottle.
I look at my mother, who's chugging her second glass of ginger ale and still seems to be holding her breath, though I cant be sure.
My cousin returns, and uncorks the bottle. We collectively wince, half expecting a cloud of arsenic to come billowing out. It doesnt, of course, and we all sigh in relief at that small comfort. However, my brother is having a glass filled, sitting there with his palms flat on the table and face drawn. It's all very dramatic, and I clutch on my other cousins arm beside me in anticipation of the taste test.
He first sips the glass of my mothers, discarded, grimacing and letting out an audible 'blegh.' He doesnt allow himself a moments reprieve as he tosses the second one back.
His eyes widen. We all swatch him, no one daring a breath. my fingers are cutting crescents into my cousin, but she's far too invested to care because then comes the--
"SHE SWAPPED THE BOTTLES!"
My mother gasps- my brother (the rebel) laughs (someone kicks him), I look around in horror because I'm the only other one with a licence in this family, but its only a learners permit so they couldn't have possibly drunk the Great Poison- but then comes my grandmothers giggle, soft at first. She almost seems to be sobbing beneath her hunches posture, but soon she reveals herself, keeling over as sheets of laughter come forth.
"You didn't!" My aunt says, scandalized. "When could she have done that!"
My eldest brother shakes his head, pointing at the little old lady who we always thought to be so sweet, so serious, but has managed to fool us all. "We left the bottle on the table down here with her when we were all upstairs getting the food!" He accuses.
"Don't insult my wine again." Was her only statement on the matter, in my shaky translation, as she takes her cup back and sips it with the kind of smirk only the success of a great heist could bring.
I had never driven before this night.I refused to drive for another three months after the fact, as well.
What a tableau we must have made, a woman screaming in horror as her daughter drives her car down a main road and almost sideswipes multiple side mirrors, with a man placating her as the only voice of reason in this vehicle and a teenage girl- going a firm twelve in a fifty.
Ever since, my mother has kept the wine within her range of sight.