Julie Carter is a New Mexico writer and author whose column appears weekly on Rio Grande Digital.
Summers mark a myriad of events in people’s lives, ranging from Disneyland vacations to weekend boating and fishing at the lake. Family reunions fit in there somewhere and any of the sane ones that attend leave wondering, “What was I thinking?”
Family reunions are where a whole bunch of kinfolk, many of whom never liked each other much, get together for a day or two and try to act like they are happy to be in the family. Then they spend most of that time avoiding the ones they didn’t like in the first place.
Every family has its own “special people,” and usually they can be described with the phrase — “Somebody needs to get the net after that entire bunch.”
Family reunions can be fodder for a sitcom script and I use an actual reunion for an example.
The family clan runs the gamut of all kinds of crazy. The cousin that is a politician mistook the rest of the kinfolk for voters. He told stories and jokes nonstop as part of his campaign contribution plot. His motto — “Any story worth telling is worth adding a little something to.”
The family dictator, also known as the one who organized the event in a resort town one state over from where they all lived, instructed a cousin that he was in charge of the Sunday morning breakfast.
Her list was for him to get 80 eggs, 5 pounds of sausage and 5 pounds of bacon. When two family members didn’t show at the event, she cut the number to four dozen eggs with the same sausage and bacon.
No one was quite sure who it was that didn’t make it, but they knew they must be egg-eating dudes. The fact that the organizer was a schoolteacher made this math somewhat concerning but then someone recalled she was allowed to teach only special-ed students.
Uncle Mike was a big winner at the horse races and told the clan he would treat them all to a drink at the casino.
“You know, when you hit it big at the races, a feller can do a lot of things,” he said.
“How much did you win, Mike?”
“Twenty-three dollars,” he answered.
The old uncle, who is 84, has a young steady girlfriend of Latin descent, and he spent the weekend giving tango lessons on a spontaneous basis.
A whispered warning passed from cousin to cousin advising them to not ask the old guy about his love life unless you were prepared to hear more than you wanted about sex at 84.
A Friday night trip to the casino buffet was highlighted by one cowboy landing passed out on a stack of clean glasses in the pantry while a security guard babysat him until his wife was located.
Although classified pretty much as hillbillies through and through, there were a few that made every attempt at being civilized, even just for the weekend.
One woman proudly spent $62 on a pedicure, foot massage, had little daisies painted on her toes and her skin twinkled from the sparkles in the lotion that was applied. Another lost 11 cents playing the penny slots and whined about it for two days.
The cousin who also peddled trinkets worked throughout the event using the family connections to lighten his inventory. Another group hit the high-dollar t-shirt stores and tourist bauble vendors for some name recognition braggin’- rights knick knacks.
By the end of the weekend, the kinfolk were sufficiently reacquainted. It was quietly suggested that the next reunion might be held somewhere exotic enough that it would force a financial sorting of the attendees.
There is a hard and fast rule for any event. You can invite your friends, but your relatives just show up.
Julie can be reached for comment at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit her website at http://julie-carter.com