Every five years or so something happens in
the family that brings all the relatives together.
It’s usually a wedding, funeral or holiday
meal. Recently, my cousin got married so that
put everyone together for a weekend.
Some of these folks I hadn’t seen in ages. I attended
many of their weddings years ago and now some were
with a totally different spouse. I always remember their
giddy faces at their ceremony when they couldn’t keep
their hands off one another. The groom would stumble
over to me and drunkenly slur, “She’s the only one in the
world for me.” And here he is with someone else and
actually was married to someone else before that. So
maybe, there are only three girls in the world for him.
The weddings themselves have become boring. It’s like
watching the same movie over again with a different
lead. These days, marriages have a short shelf life. In all
honesty, it would probably be more exciting to be invited
to the divorce. Have the ole bride and groom get up
and share a few words about one another...
HUSBAND: My grandfather used to tell me about
living through the great Depression. (LOOKS UP)
Grandpa, I was married to this… monster for six
years. So I guess you can say I lived through my own
great depression. People become doctors in six years.
You’d think in six years she’d learn how to fry an egg.
I gave her a diamond ring and she gave me herpes. I
could never kiss my wife either. The wine bottle was
always in the way.
WIFE: My turn. I never know when he’s through talking
because I finished listening to him the day after the
honeymoon. What a fun time that was. The seal at Sea
World performed better than he did. He would snore
sweet nothings in my ear. But he was a good provider.
Whenever I looked at our bank account it provided me
with an excuse to end this lousy marriage.
Back to the wedding, I’ve noticed people can change a
lot in five years. Thick hair becomes thin. Thin becomes
gray. Then gray becomes bald. Smooth skin turns
wrinkly. Wrinkly turns hairy. Muscles become flab. Flab
becomes fat. Fat becomes “who cares?” It’s strange how
I haven’t changed… he says wishfully.
Sadly, I don’t even like to be around people to begin
with. Throw in some crazy family members and I would
opt to be lost at sea… probably less sharks there. I know,
every family has their fair share of loony birds but why
do they have to always sit by me at these functions? I
just want to eat my chicken in peace.
You always run into that one relative who you didn’t
really know very well but you have one story you
rehash every time you see them. “Remember when we
were ten years old and we went into your mom’s closet
and put on her dresses and we were dancing around the
house to the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack?” he says.
“Yeah, that was… something,” you say. Then you pretend
that another family member is calling you over and
you’re like, “Hold that thought. I’ll be right back. Aunt
Selma wants to tell me something.” Then you spend the
rest of the evening avoiding that guy because he’ll keep
adding to the story. “… And then we were jumping on
the bed in our underwear…” That one freakin’ story is
rehashed every time you see him. That’s all he’s got.
One cousin is the gossiper. All family information must
go through her and be dispensed by her. She’s the family
filter and dispenser. She’s always so nice and caring as
you spill your guts to her. Then she passes out your guts
to everyone. Then people come up and say, “I’m sorry, I
heard about your guts.” Then you get pissed because your
guts were a private thing. Crazy. Some people have a lot
of guts. On the flip side, whenever you want to know
about someone’s family business, she’s the go-to girl. It
always starts out, “You didn’t hear this from me but…”
Every family has a drunk or two. They can be touchand-
go depending on what stage you catch them in. The
fun, happy stage isn’t so bad. Sentences get repeated a
lot, but it’s tolerable.
“I’m serious, you’re my favorite one of everybody here.
You hear me, you’re good people,” he slurs.
“Yes, I know Uncle Jack, you’ve said that a few times
already,” you sigh, looking for an escape.
“I’m serious,” he responds fighting to keep his head
still as he leans over and hugs your neck, his hot booze
breath panting on your cheek. “Of everybody here,
dammit, you’re the best-est of everybody… here.”
The other stage isn’t so fun. The angry, slurry blurbs
like, “You think you’re better than me?” or the, “What
are you looking at?” and, my favorite, “The hell I’m
I’ve witnessed it and it’s not pretty. A family without a
drunk is like a bowling alley without shoes. I don’t even
know what that means.
“So what have you been up to?” gets thrown out a lot at
these events. I’ve never had a good answer to that question.
I always fall back on “Same old stuff.” Besides,
doesn’t my Facebook page cover my news. The worst
part is catching up on what their kids are doing. A lot of
it usually centers on how well they’re doing in college
or on their new job. Later on I would find out (from the
gossiping cousin) the kid’s living at home because he
just got out of rehab.
I’m not good with the small talk. My strong point is
I’m a good listener and nodder of the head. I usually
throw in a couple pithy phrases like “that’s crazy” and
“damn” just to assure them I’m listening to their boring
babble. I’m very resourceful. Hey, whatever gets
There’s always that extremely insecure relative who was
born to be a liar. Ever since you’ve known him, he’s
always been the king of bullsh**. The unbelievable
thing is that he actually believes it. Whatever you say
he’s got a story to top it. If you told him you went to the
baseball game the other night he would say he’s best
friends with the pitcher. If you told him you just bought
a TV he’d tell you about the movie theatre he just purchased.
He can’t imagine that people can like him just
for who he is. He’s probably right. I must admit, I do
enjoy some of his stories as he’s such a creative chap.
Where the hell is he when I need writing ideas?
Then there’s always that guy, usually a cousin or an
uncle, whose got his hands in some new money-making
venture. And, it always seems shady. Every time you
run into this dude he says he’s raking in the dough. You
can always count on a stock tip from him. The funny thing is that he usually drives a 15-year-old car with a
couple dents in it. By the end of your conversation
Uncle Ponsi is willing to bring you in on his “can’t
miss” business, but you can’t tell anybody. All you need
to do is break out your checkbook.
My favorite relative is the one who has always been in
trouble since he was a kid. And I don’t mean little
things like throwing a baseball through a neighbor’s
window. I mean throwing a baseball through a neighbor’s
window, then climbing in and robbing them. And
burning the house down. While growing up, every other
month one of my parents would blurt out at the dinner
table, “Your cousin Victor’s back in jail.” The only
thing you could do is shoot your brother that half-snickered
look because you’ve hung around with that cat and
you know what he’s capable of. Whenever you run into
the hoodlum you size up his attire, wondering which
items have been stolen. From day one this rebel was
trouble… “ba ba ba bad to the bone.” If he made a family
event, it was because he was out on parole. The sad
thing is his mom is really nice but you can just see the
lines on her face from every traumatic delinquent ordeal
her menacing kid put her through.
There are always one or two sluts in the extended family.
Every function you meet them and you have to memorize
a new guy’s name. I’m not judging, I’m just saying.
Of course, there’s always the gay one, the fat uncle,
the trashy aunt, the overly religious one, the nerdy oddball,
all of whom I happen to love dearly. I usually stay
in touch with the nerd in case something happens to my
computer. One of my aunt’s is big into kissing. Every
time you see her WHAM you’re blindsided by a wet,
sloppy kiss. The worst part is her moustache tickles and
she has that nasty cigar breath.
All and all, nothing crazy happened at the big wedding
reunion. Sometimes at one of these events there’s something
to talk about. Something like, “I can’t believe
Judy slept with that hairy dude in the band,” or “I can’t
believe Victor puked on the wedding cake.” Nothing
good like that. Maybe the next one. Sadly, everyone
Did I have a terrible time? No, it’s always good to see
familiar faces… even from the family. Anyone who
once annoyed you, you can deal with it because you
know you won’t see them again for another five years.
Then there are the ones you’ve lost touch with and you
promise to call them more often. Hopefully, they won’t
wait by the phone.
Anyway, I’m alive. I survived another family reunion.
I’ll be at the next one. There’s just something about
being around the people you love when there’s an
by Jeff Charlebois
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