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 drunk!”
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 you by.
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 behaved.
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 open bar.
Articles in the Joe Mantegna Issue; Senator Harkin — US Budget Must Reflect Our Values; Ashley Fiolek — A Concussion Tests Her Ability; Humor — All in the Family; Web Widget — Accessibility Works; Chinese Art — Raw Beauty of the Innocents; Geri’s — Survivor Guide; Golf Pro — One Arm, Limitless Possibilities; Road Trip — MS Changes a Biker’s Course; Charlie Kimball — Racing Against Diabetes; Joe Mantegna — When Life Flips the Script; Nancy Alspaugh-Jackson — Crusader For Autism; DRLC — Beware Genetic Discrimination; Betsy Valnes — Connect the Dots in Disability Circles; ABILITY’s Crossword Puzzle; CRPD — Information and Communication Technologies; Events and Conferences…