Thursday, July 16, 2009

Survival Guide

Dear Reader,

Many of you will be forced in the coming months to endure one of the most difficult trials of a person’s life. Events so tragic and memories so horrific that will be burned forever onto your psyche and require years of therapy and prescription drugs to absorb. I am speaking of course of the dreaded Family Reunion. These procedures are fraught with tension and conflict; it helps to have low expectations and to know what you are getting into beforehand. Don’t make the mistake of thinking the reunion is going to be a vacation, a party, or indeed, any fun at all. Oh, no. It will be none of these, my friend. I have created a sample timeline of a day in the life of a family reunion to help you arm yourself for the event.

The Family Reunion: Day 1

7:30 AM Wake to niece and nephew dive bombing you and screaming something about a canoe.

8:00 AM
Depart for worst canoe trip ever. Niece and nephew scream and fight over who gets to help paddle, causing the canoe to tip over and you to dive in and rescue drowning children under the scornful watch of older sister who didn’t trust you to take them canoeing in the first place.

9:00 AM
Suddenly get urge to take up jogging just to get out of the house for a bit. Run four miles or until you throw up.

11:00 AM
Dementia-addled Grandma doesn’t know your name. Tell her that you are the lesbian lover of your brother’s wife. When she asks who your brother is, tell her that he is Charles Lindbergh.

12:00 LUNCH! Finally. Make sure to provide only vegetarian food so that everyone will stay home next year.

1:45 PM
Accidentally walk in on awkward tween cousin Bart holding a photo of Hannah Montana with his pants down in the bathroom. Mutter something – anything! And get out quick.

2:00 PM
Uncle Fred leaves to go “find things in the garage from last year.” Do NOT, under any circumstances, go with him.

2:45 PM Catch Tara, your 13 year-old second cousin (or something) reading Breaking Dawn. Bond with her over Edward Cullen obsession. Try on her t-shirt with the Cullen Family Crest on it. Show her the photos of Robert Pattinson you have downloaded to your iPhone. Catch glimpse of yourself in the mirror. Next to her taut and dewy face, yours looks like an old leather bag.

3:30 PM Start drinking. Drinking at a family reunion can be a steady all day event that passes totally unnoticed if planned right. The older folks probably start earlier as they go to bed early, so have a cocktail when they do. Your parents will start with a drink around dinner, so switch to whatever they are drinking at that time. After dinner everyone has a drink, so you’re safe then. When the others go to bed, the teenagers will be shot gunning beers in the basement. As long as you promise to buy them more tomorrow, they won’t mind you joining in.

6:00 PM
Dinner. Without making eye contact, be sure Bart has washed his hands. Gorge yourself on potato salad, cole slaw and hot dogs. If you are challenged to a hot dog eating contest, have on hand plenty of water to dunk the buns in. Disgusting, yes, but it gets them down faster.

7:00 PM Your father’s cousin Teddy confronts you in the kitchen about your lack of faith in the lord and how it will send you to a fiery hell for all eternity. Calmly remind him that if it isn’t your lack of faith that does it, surely it’s the slutty drunken blur that was your twenties. Not to mention the car you stole on spring break in the Bahamas.

8:00 PM Bart is in the bathroom again. Use the other one, or just go in the woods. He’s going to be awhile.

9:00 PM
Someone will want to play charades. Just go along with it because a fight is going to break out soon anyway.

9:30 PM Loud arguing from the porch draws your attention. It’s up to you if you want to investigate because your father is getting in a fist fight with his Jesus-loving cousin Teddy, and your father rolling around in a headlock will be a memory hard to get rid of without the use of painful and costly electric shock therapy. If you do choose to watch, don’t get involved. Teddy’s daughter weighs in at an easy 250 and can crush you with just one of her massive arms should the row evolve into tag-team.

10:30 PM
Now that you’re pretty drunk, it’s a good time to air your grievances with your siblings. Some topics for spewing might include:
  • The PTSD you suffer as a result of your brother playing his favorite childhood game “Close Call” which involved hurtling toward you on his bike at top speed, only to veer off at the last minute.
  • In tenth grade your tramp sister stole your boyfriend because she was willing to go all the way with him and you weren’t.
  • Your sister in law’s need to constantly correct your grammar. That is not something with which it is easy to deal. Hah!
  • Chastise brother for having a career in banking, proving that he a selfish, greedy, no-talent materialist. (*Note: do not open this can of worms if you will be needing a loan any time soon)
  • Tell boorish brother-in-law that he scared off your last boyfriend by constantly farting in front of him.
11:00 PM Bed time. If you have to get up in the middle of the night, be careful as you are on the top bunk and it’s a long way down to the cold basement floor.