That Poor Girl (A Family Reunion Part 17)

head injury

Bertha, or Becky, or…the poor girl that came to the big family reunion with Cousin Milton, is now conscious and sitting in lawn chair in the shade–it’s good to stay out of direct light when your concussed. Cousin Milton is holding an icepack to her head and looking entirely pissed off.

“Cousin Milton looks entirely pissed off,” Cousin Bucky says.

“And Cousin Milton is pretty easy going,” Cousin Peggy adds.

“The spot where her head hit the tree–the bark is peeled off,” Cousin Bucky states in astonishment.

“That’s not good for the tree,” your cousin Erikka says in a voice dripping with disdain.

“That can’t possibly be good for her head,” Cousin Peggy yaps at Cousin Erikka.

Cousin Erikka glares at Cousin Peggy as she moves to another spot under the pavilion.

“I wouldn’t worry about it,” Uncle Gabe bellows as he joins the conservation, “it’s just a concussion…maybe a little brain damage.”

“You don’t think a little brain damage is something to be worried about?” Cousin Peggy asks.

“Not in this family,” you tell her, “it’s almost a requirement.”

“I’ve taken worse hits than that,” Uncle Gabe says with a dismissive wave. “And look at me–I’m fine.”

“There seems to be a bit wiggle room between your definition of fine and my definition fine,” Cousin Bucky tells Uncle Gabe.

“People only use 10 percent of their brains anyway,” Uncle Gabe assures Cousin Bucky.

“Do you think you’re using that much of your brain…is that what really think?” You ask Uncle Gabe.

“I’m just saying a little brain damage isn’t a big deal,” Uncle Gabe reasserts.

“Spoken like a person with brain damage,” Cousin Peggy says.

“You see Uncle Gabe,” Cousin Bucky tries to explain, “your talking about someone having brain damage is kind of a pot and kettle situation.”

“I don’t understand what that means.”


“Here they come,” cousin Peggy alerts everyone.

Cousin Milton is helping Bertha, or Becky, or whatever her name is, to the pavilion.

“She’s stumbling like a drunk person,” Cousin Bucky points out.

“Well, functional alcoholism is the next stage when joining this family,” you comment.

“Cousin Milton looks entirely pissed off,” Cousin Peggy reiterates.

That poor Girl.




The Blessing Aftermath (A Family Reunion Part 16)

tree“Wow. I’ve never seen anyone run away that fast,” your cousin Peggy says in astonishment. “People who are in fear for their lives don’t run that fast.”

“I know,” Cousin Bucky confirms. “She ran straight into that tree.”

“If you were running away from a mountain lion you wouldn’t run that fast,” Cousin Peggy says.

“I wonder if she couldn’t see the tree because she crossed-eyed,” Cousin Bucky wonders.

“She’s not crossed eyed,” your aunt Beasley corrects, “she has a droopy eye.”

“Well, if she wasn’t cross-eyed before, she’s cross eyed now. Did you see the way her head ricocheted off that tree?” Cousin Bucky exclaims.

“Usain Bolt doesn’t run as fast as that girl was running,” Cousin Peggy continues.

“It’ll be okay,” Aunt Beasley assures. “Uncle Gabe is attending to her. He has medical training–he’s a firefighter.”

“I hope she doesn’t burst into flames,” Cousin Bucky jokes.

“That’s not funny,” Aunt Beasley admonishes, “that’s only happened a couple of times.”

“How many more times than zero would you consider to be normal?” Cousin Bucky insists.

“Cousin Milton really looks pissed,” Cousin Peggy says.

“Uncle Ronnie just ran his girlfriend into a tree, I’d say he has a right to be pissed.”

“Well, you have to listen to Uncle Ronnie don’t you; with him being a pastor and all,” Aunt Beasley tells Cousin Bucky.

“But is he really a pastor?” Cousin Bucky questions.

“I’ve seen the certificate.”

“The certificate he got from that online site? The site that Screech from Saved By The Bell is the spokesman for?”

“I thought that guy was in prison,” Cousin Peggy interjects.

“Uncle Ronnie is a real pastor–he’s allowed to officiate weddings,” Aunt Beasley asserts.

“He’s allowed to officiate weddings in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and he can preside over various hillbilly ceremonies in remote areas of West Virginia.”

“He can also marry people at sea.”

“You’re thinking of Captain Stubbing from The Love Boat.”

“I’m pretty sure that guy’s in prison,” Cousin Peggy continues. “What was his name, Dustin something?”

“You’re wrong.” Aunt Beasley says starting to become agitated.

“No. I’m pretty sure his name’s Dustin,” Cousin Peggy affirms.

“Would you shut up about Screech–nobody cares about Screech,” Aunt Peggy admonishes Cousin Peggy.

“Well,” Cousin Peggy says coolly, “maybe if more people cared about Screech, his life wouldn’t have taken such a tragic turn.”

Aunt Beasley gaped stupidly at Cousin Peggy for a moment before turning her attention back to Cousin Bucky. “Uncle Ronnie married that couple on Lake Erie just a few weeks ago.”

“Are you referring to the double suicide?”

“Uncle Ronnie had no way of knowing those people were going to jump out of the boat,” Aunt Beasley said defensively.

“He made sure he got paid up front.”

“That doesn’t mean anything.”

“The wedding announcement read: We’re going to be taking the plunge to spend eternity together in the depths.”

“That phrasing could mean lots of things.”

“But it didn’t mean lots of things did it? It meant one very specific thing.”

“Nobody could have seen it coming.”

“They purchased their obituaries the same day they purchased the wedding announcement.”

“It’s not Uncle Ronnie’s fault,” Aunt Beasley finally yells at Cousin Bucky.

“Well, the authorities seem to have a slightly different opinion about that; they’re still looking into it,” Cousin Bucky replies.

“Maybe Uncle Ronnie can share a cell with Cousin Roscoe,” Cousin Peggy interjects before gasping in realization. “Maybe Uncle Ronnie can share a cell with Screech!”

Aunt Beasley turns to you in frustration, as you’ve been uncharacteristically silent. “Uncle Ronnie is real pastor isn’t he?”

You pause to properly measure your words. “Sure. Uncle Ronnie is a real pastor. Uncle Ronnie is a real pastor in the same way Dr. Pepper is a real doctor.”

Aunt Beasley storms away.

“Look, Bertha, or Becky, or what’s-her-name, is awake and she’s not on fire,” Cousin Bucky says.

“Small mercies, Cousin Bucky…small mercies.”

Potential cellmate of Uncle Ronnie’s






Uncle Ronnie and the “Blessing” (A Family Reunion Part 15)

It’s that point of the big family reunion when your uncle Ronnie gives the pre-meal blessing.

In your family the blessing isn’t as much about thanking God for the bounty you’re about to receive or about thanking Him for the opportunity for your family to assemble and enjoy each other’s company. It’s more of a passive-aggressive diatribe of accusation and chastisement.

The blessing often ends with someone fleeing in tears. Twice it has ended in stabbings and once there was a bludgeoning.

Dear Lord,

as we gather here today, we ask that you have mercy on those family members who have failed us over this past year…so bitterly failed us. We’re not asking for a lot of mercy, but for an appropriate amount of mercy.  I mean, the guilty do need to be punished–in certain cases, severely punished.

We ask that you bless those family members who have pleased us over the past year. Cousin Erikka whose Haiku writing has reached a whole new level this year. Uncle Gabe-you know, the firefighter- who heroically saved the Henderson’s family dog when their house caught on fire. Of course the Henderson’s all perished while Uncle Gabe was saving their dog, but I’m sure that’s how they would have wanted it. I’m sure they’re all with you now. Well, maybe not Bill Henderson, he was kind of jerk. His wife was no prize either…they’re all dead anyway.

I know you’re blessing my family because we’re as close to human perfection as you can get. Nice job on creating us by the way.

We ask that you watch over little Cousin Milt as he has begun dating the neighbor girl. You know the homely one with the droopy eye and questionable morals. Her name’s Becky or Bertha or something like that. Well you know, she’s sitting next to him right now. I see trouble coming out of that relationship, and possibly something illegitimate.

We ask that you help poor Rodney who was so tragically shot in the leg today due to the heartless inaction of a certain family member whose name I won’t deign to mention.

And finally there is poor Cousin Roscoe, who as we speak is being deloused. It was that same family member who is to blame for the long legal battle ahead of poor Cousin Roscoe. If only this family member could be trusted to get the marshmallows, graham crackers, and chocolate bars.

I won’t say that family member’s name. I’m just going to glare at that family member for ten to fifteen seconds in a condemning way. I could see some boils, or maybe a bout of leprosy coming the way of this particular family member–it’s your call.


“That last bit was about you,” Uncle Monty tells you.

“I get that,” you tell him.

“Because of that thing that happened earlier.”

“I understand,” you confirm.

“If you do get boils, I have some suave that might help…I not going to tell you what’s in it, but I made it myself.”

“Fantastic,” you say.

It’s going to be a very long day.

Uncle Monty (A Family Reunion Part 14)

uncle montyUncle Monty takes a seat next you adorned in blood stained camouflage and reeking of an odor previously thought to be reserved for things in an advanced state of decay.

“You smell like the ass end of rhinoceros,” Cousin Bucky exclaims through a pinched nose.

“It is a very pungent odor,” your uncle Monty confirms.

“Why?” You ask.

“Why what?” Uncle Monty responds.

“Why do you smell like the ass end of a rhinoceros, and why do you seem entirely unbothered by the fact that you smell like the ass end of a rhinoceros?”

“It’s a new masking scent I’m trying out.”

“A masking scent?”

“You know, to mask the human scent so you don’t frighten off the wildlife when you’re hunting.”

“That smell is meant to not frighten things off?” Cousin Bucky says with bewilderment.

“The scent of humans often frightens some animals,” Uncle Monty explains.

“Well, if you were going for a smell that’s inhuman: mission accomplished,” you tell Uncle Monty.  He takes it as praise–it wasn’t really meant to be.

“Thank you,” Uncle Monty beams with pride. “This is a scent of my own design.”

“You created this smell?”

“Absolutely. There are few secret ingredients that I can’t reveal, but mostly it’s yak urine and deer semen.”

“I just threw up in my mouth a little bit,” Cousin Bucky tells you as gets up to leave. “You’re on your own.”

“I’m certain I don’t want to know the answer to this, but where do you get deer semen?”

“Let’s just say, I’m resourceful.”

“Unnervingly creepy would have been my choice of words, but we can go with resourceful.”

Your cousin Rebecca stops on her way  past. “Hey Uncle Monty did you get anything today?”

“What do you mean?” Uncle Monty seems confused by the question.

“Haven’t you been hunting today?” She responds.

“Why would you think that?” For a self-proclaimed inventor, your uncle Monty is really quite dim.

“Because you’re all dressed in camouflage and you smell like death,” she explains.

“Have you not met Uncle Monty before?” You tell her matter-of-factly.

“Yeah. Have you not met me?” Uncle Monty backs you up.

“You’re both idiots,” Cousin Rebecca says as she walks away.

“You do wear an awful lot of camouflage, Uncle Monty.”

“I wear a normal amount of camouflage.”

“You have a camouflage wallet.”

“I need a camouflage wallet.”

“Why? In case you get mugged by a deer?”

“I need a camouflage wallet because I hunt.”

“Drop that thing in the forest and you’ll be hunting.”

“When I get this masking scent approved by the FDA, this camouflage wallet will be stuffed with cash.”

“I’ll be holding my breath–mostly because of the smell, but good luck.”

“If those pricks at the FDA weren’t so completely anal. A few tumors in some lab rats and a couple of random puss filled sores and they put a complete halt on progress.”

“How many lab rats?”

“Just three or four…dozen.”

“Those pricks,” you say disgustedly.

Before your conversation can proceed any farther down a genuinely disturbing path, your Aunt Zelda demands everyone’s attention because it’s time for your uncle Ronnie to say the blessing.

And so the big family reunion officially begins.

Can you spot the camouflage wallet in this photo?




Aunt Zelda (A Family Reunion Part 13)

Aunt Zelda has outdone herself this year.

“That’s harsh,” Cousin Bucky sympathizes as he eyes the giant gelatinous clump of Aunt Zelda’s potato salad on your plate.

One spoonful of your aunt Zelda’s potato salad is a chore to force down. You’ve been served enough to put down a rhinoceros. And not a weak or sickly rhinoceros that’s been having a tough time of it, but a young strapping rhinoceros that really takes care of itself and has a long and fruitful life ahead of it.

“That’s enough to kill a rhinoceros,” Cousin Bucky tells you,

“I know,” you tell him.

“And rhinoceroses are huge.”

“I know.”

“Way bigger than you are.”

“I know.”

“Like twenty times bigger.”

“I get it!” You yell.

“What do you think makes her potato salad so horrible?” Cousin Bucky asks.

“She puts way too much eye-of-newt in it,” you tell him.

“Is that what weird stuff is?” Cousin Bucky says matter-of-factly. “I thought it was monkey brains.”

“She puts some kind of curse on the potato salad then she makes everyone eat it,” you tell your cousin Bucky, “why do you think she brings it in a cauldron?”

“My mom says all that stuff about her putting curses on people is just rumors,” Cousin Bucky replies.

“That because Aunt Zelda put a curse on your mom.”

Cousin Bucky stares at you with disbelief.

“Do you remember that time Cousin Roscoe made that crack about Aunt Zelda having chunky thighs?” You ask.

“Yes,” he responds with apprehension.

“And the next week he grew a tail.”

“Grandma said he was medical miracle.”

“Most of Grandma’s miracles tend to fall under the category of aberration of nature,” you explain. “Remember how he couldn’t wear shorts that summer; he had to tuck that sucker down his pant leg.”

“I remember,” Cousin Bucky confirms.

Your cousin Roscoe had the tail surgically removed, but it grew back. Then they had it surgically removed again, but it grew back again. Then had it surgically removed a third time and that time it only came back as nub.

“You’ve seen the nub,” you tell Cousin Bucky.

“That nub is going to be a problem in the prison showers,” Cousin Bucky says. “You shouldn’t try to rob a convenience store if you have a nub.”

“And for so many other reasons,” you add.

As you and Cousin Bucky ponder he significance of a nub and how it would relate to prison showers, your uncle Monty plops down next you.

“Looks like I’ll be dining with you ladies today,” Uncle Monty bellows with his fog horn of a voice.

You sigh because it’s going to be a very long day.

He’s young and healthy, but he’s still going down.


Dinner’s Ready (A Family Reunion Part 12)

feast picnic

The food is being assembled under the pavilion at “the great picnic table of feasting” where your family fills their plates as they pay homage to your grandmother and the family name with adoration and reverence…then they stuff their faces like a bunch ravenous hogs.

Your family is a gluttonous bunch.

Your uncle Gabe has prepared the meats with virtually no casualties. There were a couple of small side fires, but they were easily contained. (Your uncle Gabe is after-all a volunteer firefighter.)

He receives a smattering applause for his efforts.

Your aunt Minnie has added her famous Texas sheet cake to “the great picnic table of feasting.”

As a child you thought it was called Texas shit cake–you were more right than wrong.

Your aunt Jackal has supplied a bunch of homemade pies, creating a horrible dilemma for you: you love red raspberry pie, but your aunt Jackal is a twisted wreck of hatred and soul-devouring evil…but you love red raspberry pie.

The so called slackers bring chips, vegetable trays, or maybe a watermelon. If you’re really a slacker you bring the marshmallows, graham crackers, and chocolate bars.

There are the assorted Jell-O molds, cole slaws, deviled eggs, and macaroni salads–your typical picnic fare.

What isn’t typical picnic fare is your aunt Zelda’s potato salad.

She brings it in a giant cauldron that she locates in the center of “the great picnic table of feasting.”

Nobody else is allowed to bring potato salad lest they fall under the wrath of Aunt Zelda. Your cousin Patrice brought German potato salad one year–it is now affectionately referred to as the ugliness.

“But this is German potato salad,” Patrice kept saying under her heavy sobs. “It’s a completely different thing.”

She was forced to approach every family member and apologize for her presumptiveness and insolence. It was also difficult because she covered with German potato salad.

Every person is required to take part in aunt Zelda’s potato salad–there are no exceptions allowed.

The main thing you notice about Aunt Zelda’s potato salad, apart from the strange texture, is that it tastes like a diseased monkey peed on a bowl of death.

One year your cousin Bucky tried to surreptitiously feed his potato salad to his dog, Baxter. Baxter went into spasms, bit Bucky on the leg, and now it has a horrible fear of potatoes, or any type of prepared salad.

This year your aunt Zelda has made sure you’ve gotten a triple serving of her potato salad. “You should have Roscoe and Rodney’s share since you’re the reason they aren’t here,” she sneered at you.

It’s going to be a long day.

Potato salad that hasn’t been peed on by a diseased monkey.



The Thanksgiving Day Incident (A Family Reunion Part 11)

Your uncle Gabe manning the grill reminded you of the Thanksgiving Day incident:

You were standing around in a group discussing seasonal things typical of your family: your aunt Tina was commenting on how well things seem to be going that year. “There hasn’t been one stabbing yet,” she exclaimed. Then she showed everyone how well the bayonet wound in her face was healing.

Your cousin Billy burst through the door and announced that your uncle Gabe (the volunteer firefighter) had accidentally set his face on fire.

“How did that happen?” your aunt yelled.

“I don’t know,” your cousin responded. “It just burst into flames like the Hindenburg. One minute he was just standing there telling us about how he’s a volunteer firefighter, the next minute he’s burning like he’s full of hydrogen.”

“Did anyone put him out?” your aunt demanded.

“We tried. He just yelled,don’t worry, I’ve got this, I’m a volunteer firefighter.’” Then he ran into the barn and shoved his face into a big pile of hay.

“And that put the fire out?”

“No,” your cousin answered. “Also, the barn’s on fire now.”

As luck would have it, as your uncle (the volunteer firefighter) was running from the barn after setting it on fire, he tripped and fell face first into a pile of cow manure, extinguishing the fire on his face.

“Amazing,” you commented, “normally the bullshit is coming out of his face, not going into it.”

Your family stared at you with a level of hatred that was more intense than normal.

“Relax,” you told them. “At least it wasn’t a stabbing.”

Moments later one of them stabbed you.

Your Uncle (the volunteer firefighter) suffered some second degree burns on his head and got a nasty infection from shoving his face in a pile of cow crap.

The barn burned down completely.

But you barely needed any stitches at all for your stab wound.

All in all, good family Thanksgiving.

Uncle Gabe: The Volunteer Firefighter (A Family Reunion Part 10)

Before Uncle Gabe.

It’s time to fire up the grill and start cooking the hamburgers and chicken. (The hot dogs will be roasted over on open fire because one fire hazard isn’t enough for your family.)

You’ve discovered your uncle Gabe (who is a volunteer firefighter) is in charge of the grill and the fire pit this year.

You question the wisdom of allowing your uncle Gabe (the volunteer firefighter) to oversee the grill and fire pit as his presence seems to frequently precede catastrophe.

“This isn’t a good idea,” you tell Cousin Bucky.

“I’m in charge of nothing,” cousin Bucky tells you as he shrugs his shoulders.

“Do you remember what happened the Thanksgiving Uncle Gabe cooked the turkey in a deep fryer?”

“I remember. The guys at the firehouse still refer to it as the incident.”

Your uncle has been on fire so many times, he has virtually no hair left on his body. Oddly he has never been set on fire as the result of his duties as a volunteer firefighter, but as the result of his sheer stupidity.

“Was that the same year uncle Jed cut his thumb off?” Cousin Bucky asks you.

“It couldn’t have been,” you tell him. “Uncle Gabe was there to administer first-aid, and not at the burn unit of the hospital.”

“That’s right. It was a good thing Uncle Gabe was there to stop the bleeding and take care of the severed thumb. The doctor said they could have saved the thumb if it hadn’t caught on fire.”

“Yeah,” you agree. “You wouldn’t think something packed in a bag of ice could catch on fire.”

You and Cousin Bucky pause for a moment to reflect upon your uncle Gabe’s ability to inadvertently ignite things.

You decide to check on your uncle Gabe (the volunteer firefighter) to see how he is doing. Not out of concern, but out of the sheer the enjoyment you derive when bad things happen to him (your uncle Gabe–the volunteer firefighter).

Note: you may think I’m bringing up the point that your uncle Gabe (the volunteer firefighter) is a volunteer firefighter a little too often. But it’s not as often as he brings it up.

“How are things going with the grill,” you ask. “Any burn victims yet?”

“Things are going great–I’m volunteer firefighter you know,” he boasts.

“I’ve heard that once or twice,” you tell him. “It’s just that…when you leave a place, things tend to be on fire that weren’t on fire before you got there. You’re really more like a fireman from Fahrenheit 451 than a genuine firefighter.”

“If I understood that reference, would I be pissed off?” he asks you.

You explain that Fahrenheit 451 is a Ray Bradbury novel set in a dystopian future where firemen start fires rather than put them out.

“If I knew what dystopian meant, would I be pissed off?” he follows.

“I think you’d be fine with it,” you reply.

“It’s okay, I’m trained to deal with fire–I’m a volunteer firefighter.”

“Sure. Have your burns from the fireplace fiasco at the Christmas party healed yet?”

“What doesn’t kill you, only makes you stronger.”

“Or it disfigures and cripples you.”

“I can treat wounds–I’m a volunteer firefighter,” he tells you as he swats at his apron which has caught on fire.

“Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, check it out.”

And with that bit of helpful advice, you retreat to a safe distance.

After Uncle Gabe.

Where are Roscoe and Rodney? (A Family Reunion Part 9)


Your aunt Debra is now standing before you, cellphone in hand, with an ugly look on her face. When your aunt Debra is in good mood her face isn’t a thing of beauty. You once dubbed her face: the unpleasantness. But now her face is contorted in ways that would make a Cirque du Soleil performer envious.

Cousin Matilda is standing next to her looking equally perturbed. Her face isn’t quite as hideous, but give it a few years.

“Roscoe wants to talk to you,” Your aunt Debra hisses at you.

You take the phone with trepidation as you notice a crowd gathering around you. “Hey Roscoe how’s it going?”

“Ask him if he’s been deloused yet,” your cousin Billy shouts out with a chuckle.

(Your cousin, Billy Joe Jim Bob, is one of the few family members you actually get along with. Which always surprised you a little since his parents are intolerable jackasses.)

Undeterred you continue the phone call. “What? Are you serious? This is what you used your one phone call for? Don’t worry, Uncle Finster got the marshmallows, graham crackers, and chocolate bars. I’ll tell him that you made sure he got them.”

You hand the phone back to Aunt Debra. “He had to go; they’re taking him to be deloused.”

“Yay!” Cousin Billy cheers.

Matilda hands you her phone. “Hey Rodney, how’s the leg…” You sigh in exasperation. “Yes. Uncle Finster got the marshmallows, graham crackers, and chocolate bars.”

As you hand Matilda her phone, you notice the family is now surrounding you like the creepy glowing-eyed kids in Village of the Damned.

“Why did you let your cousin Roscoe get arrested?” Uncle Gabe accuses you.

“I didn’t want Roscoe to be arrested, but the police had ideas of their own.” you try to explain.

“My poor baby is in jail now. What do have to say about that,” your aunt Debra demands.

“Maybe you shouldn’t have got him that camouflage ski mask for his birthday.”

Your aunt Debra contorts her face in a way previously not possible for a human being–her mouth was above her nose.

“And how could you let Rodney get shot?” Your uncle Gabe continues with the accusations.

“I didn’t shoot him.”

“Well who did?”

“I don’t know.”

“How can you not know?”

“There was a lot tear gas, things got chaotic.”

Your aunt Debra gasps in alarm. “My baby was in tear gas?”

“I was in tear gas too,” you tell the crowd.

“Nobody cares about you,” your aunt Jackal seethes.

Things seem to be growing dire when Cousin Matilda intervenes. “Wait a minute, Rodney says that none of it was your fault.”

Your aunt Jackal grunts in dissatisfaction as the revelation seems to have abated the prospect of a potential lynching.

You’re very thankful that Rodney isn’t a blood relative and has only been married into the family for a short while. He has yet to be fully tainted by the family blood.

(The family blood is not only good for corrupting souls, but it can also be used to degrease an engine.)

The crowd around you disperses, but you can tell it’s going to be a long day.

village of the damned