I like to think my (gene) pool has a fairly significant deep-end.

27 Jun

Wonder why I’ve been quiet for a few days? Well, I’ve been off doing something people might call “jet-setting” — if those same people would be willing to accept “boarding a plane” as a loose definition of the term.

That’s right. Try not to get envious, but I set out after work on Thursday for a quick jaunt to Michigan, where I was greeted like a rock-star by legions of adoring mosquitos. (It might be over-stating it to say they rolled out the red carpet for me, but there was carpet, and by the time I finished rolling myself all over it to scratch the bites on my back, it was — in places — somewhat red.)

But no, it wasn’t the mosquitos that drew me to my birthplace. It was our Family Reunion! That’s right. We have an annual reunion, organized and championed by my father. Since it fell so close to Father’s Day this year, I thought I’d use the old “my presence is your present” adage and go for the first time in ten years.

Some observations/reflections/advice for friends who are about to jet-set to their own exotic locales for reunions:

  • They might be your family, but if you haven’t seen someone for ten years, they have all the familiarity of a stranger. In fact, they actually ARE a stranger, but since you both may be carrying the same recessive genes, you’re required to hug each other.
  • No one ever will forget the time you peed yourself playing flashlight tag. I don’t care how old you are or were.
  • Never underestimate the oldest generation’s ability to spin a good yarn.By yarn, I mean a story that involves the world “stool” approximately two dozen times while you’re trying to eat the fried chicken. (And I hope you now appreciate my use of the phrase, “spin a good yarn.” It works on a few levels here.)
  • You’ll leave the reunion feeling very tall. This is true for two reasons: 1) People will all let you know how tall you were the last time they saw you; and 2) The old people are shrinking, so comparatively, you’ll feel like  King Kong.
  • Don’t let anyone know you speak (or once spoke) a foreign language. Inevitably, someone will steer you toward another relative who is either a) Horribly fluent or b) Plain horrible, and insist that you converse for everyone. This takes awkward to a whole new level, because it’s like declaring a thumb-war and asking your distant relatives to crowd around and watch. And one person has club thumb. Just not a good idea.
  • If there is a lake, and a pontoon boat, don’t just get in the pontoon boat and start driving. Check with someone first to make sure the pontoon boat works. Unless you want the reunion to turn into a search and rescue mission.
  • Do not bring potato salad. Apparently everyone else will.
  • It may be awkward to reintroduce yourself to relatives whose names you’ve forgotten, but do it. Otherwise, you might call someone by the ex-wife’s name and cause everything to become awkwardly silent.
  • I don’t care how extraverted you are or how well you can work a room. There are some conversation topics that will stump you. So just prepare yourself for the awkward silence that follows when you learn that your second cousin is birthing, tagging and castrating pigs on her summer break from college. Just nod and look thoughtful.

A further note on this one: The alternative is to reflexively offer a rejoinder, like, “That reminds me of…” and realize: it reminds you of NOTHING. Absolutely nothing. Unless you’ve delivered an animal or cut the nuts off something, you’re on a very thin limb with this one.

And if you forget all that and make an utter ass of yourself, well, good news: they’re family. Chances are they are predisposed to the same mental illness/crappy memory/poor judgement that you are, so your mis-steps will be taken in stride. Until the pig goes into labor. Then it’ll be a bilingual thumb-war with an umbilical cord.

One Response to “I like to think my (gene) pool has a fairly significant deep-end.”


  1. Mailbag: Because I couldn’t resist. (Sorry, Alan!) « pithypants - June 28, 2011

    […] Comments « I like to think my (gene) pool has a fairly significant deep-end. […]

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