My family is pretty damn entertaining.
I tend to forget this in the year of not really spending time together, though I know not why. My family is one of those odd ones that has a high ratio of left-handed people, red-headed people, ADD and its ilk, high IQs and almost all smartasses. They are pretty hilarious. Though, whenever we socialize with family, my kid becomes mute. I’m not sure why. More on that another time.
My family has spent most of the last 30-40 years on shaky ground. Apparently, before I was born, the grandparent who died was the one who was the real glue of the family. The grand who raised me pretty made it their life mission to instill as much hate, doubt, hostility, rumors and bullshit among their kids and grandchildren. I vaguely remember a Christmas or two when it was all of us in a very tiny living room laughing, fighting, opening presents, and generally doing what families do, but it died pretty quick after that.
Aunts, uncles, mom, cousins all just got more and more distant from one another as the years wore on. The only family members I did manage to maintain contact with, though rare and sporadic, were my cousins. We seemed to see all the bullshit happening and just didn’t understand why our parentals just seemed to get sucked into grand’s bullshit over and over. This aunt doesn’t talk to this uncle, the uncles are not on good terms, mom refuses to be in the same room with this other uncle… and on and on. Of course, I say we stay in contact but its mostly keep up to date on one another’s Facebook postings. I cannot remember the last time we were all in a room together, but I’m pretty sure it was before puberty.
It was 30+ layers of bitterness and bullshit we’ll probably never really be able to completely uncover. Grand’s eldest was basically their twin, which means they didn’t care for their eldest much since they hated the things about their eldest child they really hated about themselves. I suspect there was also a level of jealousy there as their eldest got a college degree while grand had no such thing (different era, different goals). I refer to the eldest as TAIWASAPD (The aunt I wish a slow and painful death), or simply “Junior”.
My mom was the youngest and a good dozen years or so from the first, so they didn’t really know one another too well. However, me and the TAIWASAPD’s kid got along much like siblings. Especially since many summers he stayed with me and grand. We were both loners, artistic types, loved music, we bottled everything up, we didn’t talk to anyone about anything that was troubling us annnnnd of course, we fought like hell.
I was the younger of the two so it was always my cousin who got in trouble, since he “should know better.” I instigated about 99.9% of it, but it was usually he who paid the piper for it. I was especially adept at the “I’m not touching you, I’m not touching you” taunt in which my fingers would linger just a half-centimeter above the skin of his arm moving up and down as quickly and annoyingly as possible, usually in the back of the car on long road trips. His plea of “make them stop ‘not touching me’!!!!” was generally ignored, so it went on until he just had it, pinned me down and starting slinging. Then it was on. That’s normally when the parentals would deign to involve themselves.
I’m pretty sure we got hit with a brush more than once, since it gave them those extra few inches they needed to get to our legs in the backseat (I kind of miss the size of cars back then).
Now, neither of us was innocent. I was pinned down and had my forehead drooled on more than I can count. I had my shoes hooked onto the ceiling fan (I was too short to reach at the time). I am pretty sure I knocked my cousin out once by clocking his head on the corner of a drawer, but I didn’t realize that until years later. His favorite thing in the world was to play opossum and grab you when you got too close. So for the next couple hours he was out, I would fly down the stairs, peek, sneak across the room, kick him and then fly back up like my ass was on fire. I just KNEW he was faking. I’ve had my hand stuffed down the dish disposal and pinned there while he threatened to turn it on. To this day, he still swears that one never happened.
It was with this cousin that we discovered the beauty and the horror that is the combination of Jolt cola (“All the sugar and twice the caffeine” anyone?) and Sour Cream & Onion popcorn. We were enjoying a rare moment of quietly watching a movie when this waft of stench eked across our noses. The next ten minutes was spent accusing the other of an SBD (silent but deadly). When one of us happened to belch during the argument, we figured out what the stench was. Apparently the combination of these items allows the consumer to belch some of the foulest gases that have ever crawled out of a person’s face. It is an eau de toilette aroma of old lady fart, 3 year old daily used gym socks, and a sewage plant on a hot summer day right after the halftime session of a football game. Yeah, you’re welcome.
We spent the next 30 minutes after that trying to belch in one another’s face. I’m pretty sure we came to a draw due to light-headed nausea and I still have no idea what movie we were watching or if we ever finished it.
Now that we’re grown…. well, we still talk smack, but we do it over beers. We have kids of our own and as close as we were and are, we kind of painfully watch as our own two very similar children sit in a room together in silence. Neither one will instigate a conversation. I’ve been told by both on different occasions “they looked at me funny so I don’t think they like me.” You’d think one was copying the interests of the other they have so much in common, but then you realize they don’t talk about anything they are interested in when they are around one another. Neither is active on Facebook, they don’t email one another and even when we have gone on shared vacations, they just don’t interact with one another much. I know forcing it would backfire and the best friendships happen organically, but for me, its sad. I want badly to undo the damage grand left behind and I think every missed relationship can be traced back to them somehow as the core problem. Possibly unrealistic, but I cannot help but feel like they are still winning, even if they aren’t around anymore.