Relative Discomfort - Part One
Oh those family reunions! Going to ours is sort of like the Ripley's Believe it Or Not version of the family tree! Don't you hate it when you get invited to one of these functions and you don't know a soul? Feeling a little out of place, are you? Now don't be bashful. They don't bite ...except cousin Matilda but we already took her dentures out. Let me introduce you.
Granny is the matriarch of our family unit. She's starting to get old but she still loves to deer hunt. She even got them to mount her deer rifle to her walker but she has to remember to chock the wheel before she shoots. It's getting harder and harder every year to hoist her into her tree stand, ever since the forklift on the tractor blew out a tire. Seems like the tree's starting to lean a bit too. Used to some said she favored Jabba-the-Hut but that was a couple hundred pounds earlier. Now she's starting to look a bit more like Godzilla-on-a-walker.
She still wears her hair up in a bun on top of her head. When her wrinkles start to sag in her face, she just tightens it down like a ratchet a few more turns until it takes the slack out. The bun is handy for keeping up with her age since she's probably got more growth rings than a sequoia. You can tell her age sort of like a rattlesnake only instead of counting the buttons on her tail, you just count the number of buns stacked on top. Every bun stacked up counts another ten years past the big 5-0. It's been hard for her getting around since we couldn't afford one of those new mobility motorized wheelchairs. Uncle Zelton likes to tinker so he converted her zero-turn radius yard mower into a power-scooter you operate with a game controller. Worked real good too with one minor hitch that we liked to never figured out. Turns out those mean little neighbor kids down the road got a new video game and hot-wired it to their cell phone, then hacked into her controller. Suddenly she's scooting across the yard all out of control like one of them racing games. Next thing you know she jumped the ditch and took off down the road. She passed old man Bert's old pick up truck like a scene out of The Fast & the Furious . It took two deputy sheriff's cars and a nail strip to slow her down. About the third time it happened we finally caught those little scoundrels in the act. We got suspicious when they got greedy and started selling tickets for their little show.
She's doing better lately no thanks to Gramps. Seems he's getting a tad more near-sighted. Granny was bent over in the garden picking peas and since Gramps can't see so well ...see, he was worming the cows and got Granny too by mistake. Now don't be too hard on Gramps. It was an honest mistake since it's getting harder to tell her backside apart from a Holsteins. Gramps feels terrible but Granny ain't had no worms since.
Cousin Gina is here with her new boyfriend. You couldn't have said that a couple years ago, she was sort of on the homely side. Now she's got them boys all standing in line. What a difference a few years can make! That and something called puberty! I want to tell them to not to get too excited because in about ten years from now, she's gonna' start looking like her momma. She's learning how to drive now. She's done backed into that big pine tree twice already. You know the one I'm talking about, the lone tree in her backyard with all the bark knocked off? As soon as she puts it in reverse and the back-up lights come on, the squirrels get nervous.
We were all chatting around in a crowd like a bunch of magpies in a tree and the preacher walked up. Everybody had the good sense to quiet down but me. I'd been quiet for about three minutes and was just about to pop so I piped up and ratted them all out. "I'm collecting sermon illustrations for next Sunday, preacher," I says. "Already got four of them, three alone just from Regina." This explains why no one talks to me at these functions.
You meet all kinds of people at one of these things and you can never be quite sure if you know someone or not. Seems like good memory counts more than good intentions. Sometimes you don't know so you just have to put yourself out there and hope for the best. It's sort of like walking the plank. Once you get going, there isn't a graceful way to back out. "Is that your wife," he asked just making conversation. Well, some people you just can't get a straight answer out of. So he up and spouts off some smart remark. "Her? Not sure. I think her names Gertrude ...or something like that. We just met at Walmart thirty minutes ago. I found her on the housewares aisle scoping out a new pair of fuzzy pink slippers." Smart-alek remarks like that one explains why he has to part his hair a little lower than he used to.
Like every family reunion, there's kin folk you want to remember and some you'd rather forget.
Buster over there with those long sideburns likes to play the guitar. He sings too. When he's not pretending to be Elvis, he's also the Sheriff. He only works weekends because the county can't afford to pay him full-time. Mostly he's staked out at the local pic-a-pak store nabbing speeders if they're from out-of-town. He's also been know to whack a suspected felon over the head when they resist, sort of like Buford Pusser but without the club. He uses his guitar instead which makes him more like El Ka-Bong. If they still resist, he sings to them until they handcuff themselves and put themselves in the back of his patrol car.
The patrol car looks suspiciously like the hearse from the funeral home, since his brother owns that and the local Feed & Seed store. "We Plant stuff" is their catchy slogan. Last time he was in hot pursuit, he forgot to empty out the back end of the hearse and an empty coffin spilt out the back when he took off. Who would have guessed the local drunk was sleeping it off in that casket? When it hit the pavement, he sprung up out of that pine box like Lazarus-from-the-dead and bolted off down the street. Talk about raising the dead! The good news is that he promptly gave up all alcohol from that moment on and hasn't missed a church service since!
Last week the sheriff wrote four citations for an expired tag and one for a dog with malicious bowels and an errant aim. Said dog allegedly missed his tire and got his pant leg instead. Turns out if you know the judge you can get a restraining order on a dog's bladder. If that dog so much as hikes up his back leg within ten feet of him, he's got authorization to shoot in self-defence.
The men were all gathered around trying to one-up each, behaving like a bunch of unruly monkeys at a poop-throwing fight at the zoo. Sometimes it's just best to step away from a fracas or you might get hit with a projectile. The men folk were acting stupid again which may be redundant to use the word 'men' and 'stupid' in the same sentence. This is according to Martha who's between semesters at the local junior college and is always eager to show off her education. She's been educated so now she's one of those militant feminists.
Hang around a bit. No one's looking so I'm about to slip off and grab another helping of banana pudding. I can't believe they haven't posted a guard by the desert table. Too many cups of coffee are starting to tell on me so I'm going to take a little detour. When you come back there's a few more of the kinfolk you've got to meet.
© 2011 Jim Henderson