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


Kissing the Ring (A Family Reunion Part 8)

queen's throne
Similar to your grandmother’s throne, but slightly less ornate.

Kissing the ring has been a long standing practice in your family.

At any family gathering-and especially at the big family reunion-the first priority is always finding your grandmother, announcing your presence, and showering her with praise and adulation. (She appreciates it if you kneel, but it’s not mandatory.)

She will then indicate whether you have pleased her or not. It’s not unlike the way Roman emperors would decide the fate of gladiators with a thumbs up or a thumbs down. Your grandmother’s just as cruel and slightly more unforgiving, but it’s similar.

One time your cousin Bucky went to get a Coke before he went to kiss the ring. Bucky’s family still refers to it as the year of tears.

Your grandmother sits in giant chair atop an ornate dais built specifically for that purpose.

Your uncle Dodge the contractor built the dais out of the finest materials.

Dodge is your uncle because he married your aunt Zelda.

You should have “dodged” Zelda you say to him jokingly. He never laughs.

The first dais your grandmother used was built by your uncle Saul. But that dais wasn’t built as well and it collapsed with your grandmother on it. Saul’s whereabouts are still unknown; your best bet is a shallow grave somewhere.

You’ve always suspected Aunt Zelda married Dodge just for his dais constructing abilities…and of course his money.

“Well look who decided to grace us with their presence this year,” your grandmothers hisses, her voice drenched in sarcasm.

“It was either here or the fiery pits of Hell…this was closer,” you reply.

“It’s good for you to be around your family. Maybe they’ll rub off on you and you’ll learn something.”

“I already know how to color with crayons and drool on myself, so probably not.”

“It’s that smart mouth of yours I’m concerned about.”

“Oh grandmother, you know I’m just joking. I couldn’t be happier to be here,” you say lying through your teeth.

“You know, this could be my last year on this Earth,” she scolds.

“Fingers crossed.”


“Nothing I was just…”

Suddenly from behind you hear your aunt Debra’s voice growling at you, “hey!”

You turn to find her shoving her cellphone in your face. “It’s a call from Roscoe–it’s his one phone call from jail, and he wants to talk to you.”

Before you have a chance to respond, your cousin Matilda storms up with a phone in her hand. “Rodney’s been shot in the leg and he says you knew about it.”

Your grandmother is glaring down at you with a look of malevolence.

You get the sinking feeling it’s going to be a thumbs down kind of year.

jaquin pheonix
When gladiators got the thumbs down they were executed…lucky bastards.


The Arrival (A Family Reunion Part 7)

storm family reunion
The family approaches.

As you turn onto the driveway leading to Gravel Stone Park, you feel a sharp pain in your chest and your breathing becomes shallow. The first several times it happened you mistakenly thought you were dying. But you soon realized you were simply having a reaction to your family’s presence–not unlike the way the human body reacts to mustard gas.

Since your mother was the oldest of thirteen children (you had never considered the validity of the number thirteen being unlucky until you thought of this) the family is immense.

By the time you factor in all of the aunts, uncles, cousins, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, in-laws, significant others, and random stragglers who were caught like a moth in a spider’s web and couldn’t escape, it adds up to a butt-load.

(Incidentally, a giant web is how your cousin Erika ensnares most of her boyfriends.)

As you pull up to the Pavilion you see all their bright shiny vacuous faces smiling at you like some kind of weird cult. It reminds you of the painted on smile of some creepy clown that will attack with an axe the second turn away.

You’ve barely climbed from the safety of your car before Uncle Finster is in your face demanding to know you brought the marshmallows , graham crackers, and chocolate bars.

You defiantly shove the bag of marshmallows, graham crackers, and chocolate bars in Uncle Finster’s gnarled wooden face.

He eyes you suspiciously. “Your cousin Roscoe was supposed to pick up the marshmallows, graham crackers, and chocolate bars, but he hasn’t shown up yet. I guess he’s being a bit unreliable today.”

“You have no idea,” you quip as you walk away in victory.

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Read about it in the paper,” you yell back over your shoulder.

“Hey,” your Uncle Finster yells back, “why does this bag of marshmallows, graham crackers, and chocolate bars smell like tear gas?”

You just shrug your shoulders and keep walking.

You make your way through the thicket of sneering aunts, condescending uncles, drooling half-wit cousins, reprobate in-laws, and assorted relatives whose names you’ve forgotten or whose existence you were wholly unaware of, absorbing the barrage of snide remarks that always accompany these wonderful family get-togethers.

“I am so glad to see you made this year,” your aunt Jackal tells you, her voice dripping with disdain and sarcasm.

(Due to a clerical error at the hospital, the first name on your aunt’s birth certificate read Jackal instead of Jackie. It has always amazed how much more appropriate the erroneous name is.)

“I have told you–I was in car accident that year,” you calmly explain again.

“So you say,” she sneers through her canine teeth.

“All of the police reports and medical records say so too.”

“Well, isn’t that convenient for you?”

“Actually, all of broken bones and subsequent medical bills were quite inconvenient for me.”

“I wouldn’t know about that.”

“Since none of you visited me in the hospital, sent a card, or even any well wishes; it’s not surprising that you wouldn’t know about it.”

“At least you’re here this year,” she snaps.

“I love these family gatherings,” you tell her, “I’m particularly looking forward to your funeral…I hope we can do it soon Aunt Jackal.”

“I had that name legally changed to Jackie years ago!” she seethes “Everybody knows that!” She then skulks away in much the way a wounded Jackal might.

You continue forward pushing past the rabble until you make to the queen bee herself for obligatory ring kissing.

She’s just sitting there on her throne–waiting for you.

It’s your Aunt Jackal in her natural habitat.

The Hostage Situation? (A Family Reunion Part 6)

dr evil

So you’ve stopped at the convenience store to pick up “marshmallows, graham crackers and chocolate bars” for Uncle Finster.

As you’re doing so the store is robbed by a pair of masked men, one of which you discover your cousin Roscoe.

“So, you’re robbing stores now, Roscoe?”

“You’ve gotta stay busy.”

“Sure. Maybe take up whittling instead.”

“There’s no money in whittling…unless you’re like, really good at it.”

“You know what else there isn’t in whittling: conjugal visits.”

“What?” Your Cousin Roscoe seemed clearly confused.

“Because of all the prison time you going to be doing,” you explain.

“If you’re good at robbing stores you don’t go to prison.” Cousin Roscoe seems to exude confidence.

“But you’re not good a robbing stores.”

“Why do say that?” Cousin Roscoe seemed legitimately insulted.

“Well, while you were standing here talking to me, your partner fled with the money and the police have pulled up outside and are currently surrounding the building.”

“What!” Your Cousin Roscoe spins around and glares at Rodney. “Did you call the cops?”

“I pushed the button under the counter,” Rodney tells him apologetically. “I didn’t know it was you.”

“What am I gonna do? I’ve got to get the marshmallows, graham crackers, and chocolate bars to Uncle Finster.”

“Is that really your biggest worry at the moment?”

“You know how Uncle Finster gets!”

You and Rodney nod grimly.

“About that, Uncle Finster also told me to bring those things.”

“Uncle Finster says you’re unreliable. I mean, after that whole button pushing fiasco.”

“I know how to push a button!” You yell in exasperation.

“You’re not the only one,” Cousin Roscoe says sneering at Rodney.

Rodney just shrugs. “I’m not the one who’s letting down Uncle Finster and /or going to prison.”

“There’s only one thing to do,” Cousin Roscoe states resolutely.

“That’s what I was thinking,” you tell Cousin Roscoe.

“I have to take you hostage.”

“Turns out that’s not what I was thinking,” you quickly amend yourself.

“It’s the only way.”

“To get shot in the face?”

“There’s at least a 25 percent chance that will happen at the big family reunion anyway.”

You and Rodney nod grimly–there will be alcohol, firearms, and trigger happy idiots at the big family reunion–it’s practically required.

“Cousin Roscoe, I want you to think about this clearly,” you say in the most calming voice you can muster, “the police have surrounded the place and you don’t even have a gun.”

“We have one under the counter,” Rodney chimes in. “He could use that one.”

You gape at Rodney in bewilderment. “Really?”

“Great. I’ll take that.” As Rodney hands the gun over to Cousin Roscoe a scream comes from outside of the store.


After several frenzied moments of tear gas filled chaos, you find yourself being led from the store as you cough and gasp for air.

Your cousin Roscoe is being pummeled by several adrenaline fueled police officers.

Rodney has been shot in the leg.

As you watch your cousin Roscoe being roughly stuffed into a squad car and Rodney being loaded into the back of an ambulance, you realize that neither of them will be attending the big family reunion. There is one overriding thought that goes through your mind: those lucky bastards.

chief wiggum
“There are conjugal visits in your future, Cousin Roscoe.”


Marshmallows, Graham Crackers, and Chocolate Bars (A Family Reunion Part 5)

family reunion
Marshmallows, graham crackers, and chocolate bars.

You awaken from your bizarre dream to find a room filled with sunlight and the sound of birds singing outside your window.

It seems like the beginning to another beautiful day…but it isn’t is it?

The fateful day has arrived–you’ll be heading to the big family reunion today.

But before you reach that beast and its’ belly, you must stop at a convenience store because you’ve been tasked by your Uncle Finster to bring marshmallows, graham crackers, and chocolate bars.

He could have simply told you to get makings for s’mores, but your uncle believes you to be imbecile. He once described to you in great detail the proper way to push a button. To this day he shakes his head in disapproval every time he sees you push a button.

As you enter the store you nod to the cashier Rodney. Rodney is married to your cousin Matilda. When his shift is over at the store, he’ll be making an appearance the big family reunion.

He nods back to you with a look of resignation generally reserved for those on death row.

As you meander through the aisles, muttering to yourself about what a jackass your Uncle Finster is, a pair of masked men burst into the store.

That’s odd you think to yourself, ski masks are unusual attire, especially in the middle of July.

Then one of the masked men clumsily produces a gun and demands the cashier hand over all of the money from the register.

Rodney jumps back and yells, “don’t shoot me–I have a pet python named Monty that needs me.”

Most people would think it strange that Rodney would mention his pet snake and not his wife Matilda in a life threatening situation. But you know between the snake and Matilda, Matilda is the coldblooded one.

Rodney pulls the bills from the register and shoves them at the masked man.

As this is unfolding, you are demonstrating all the bravery that one can muster while crouched behind a display of Fruit Loops.

Just as the masked man appears to be exiting the store he turns back toward Rodney, points his gun at him and says with a chuckle, “just a pair of knickers then.”

“What?” Rodney responds confusedly.

“You know, from the Monty Python sketch,” the masked man explains.

Rodney just gapes at him.

The masked man sighs impatiently. “The sketch where John Cleese is a bank robber, but he mistakenly goes into a lingerie shop and winds up just asking for a pair of knickers.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Sorry,” the masked man says defensively, “I just stupidly assumed you were a Monty Python fan.”

“Why do people always say that?” Rodney demands.

“Well…I would suspect because you named your pet python Monty.”

“Monty is named after my wife’s uncle Monty–he’s kind of a snake.”

He’s right about that you think.

“Never mind then,” the masked man says dejectedly, “we’ll just go then.”

“Wait,” the second masked man finally chimes in, “I need to get marshmallows, graham crackers, and chocolate bars.”

You bolt upright the instant you hear the voice as you and Rodney exclaim in unison, “Cousin Roscoe?”

Next Post: The Hostage Situation.


Monty Python
“Just a pair of knickers then.”

The Premonition (A Family Reunion Part 4)

a family reunion
Your Uncle Finster on a typical day.

You’re wandering through your grandmother’s woods on a seemingly typical summer day, but something seems to be a bit off. There are no birds singing, or squirrels scurrying through the treetops. The familiar scent of pine has been replaced with a sickly pungent smell, and even the breeze through the trees seems to be absent.

Suddenly he’s standing there before you: your Uncle Finster. He’s clutching a hatchet and glaring at you with a look of pure malevolence. And it’s not the look of pure malevolence that normally adorns his face, but something even more sinister.

“What are you going to do with that hatchet?” You ask trepidatiously, guessing you don’t want to know the answer.

“What do you think I’m going to do with it?” He responds with a snort through his crooked nose.

“I think you’re going to try to kill me with it.”

“Of course I’m going to kill you with it,” he cackles, “but do you know why I’m going to kill you with it?”

“It just seems like the type of thing you’d do,” you tell him matter-of-factly.

“Why else?”

“I don’t know…because that’s a new shirt and it isn’t sufficiently blood stained yet?”

“Why else?”

You sigh. “Just tell me.”

“You forgot the marshmallows, graham crackers, and chocolate bars,” he screams at you. “it was the big family reunion, and you forgot the marshmallows, graham crackers, and chocolate bars.”

“First: Why can’t you just say s’mores?” You say in exasperation. “Second: I brought them. I put them on the picnic table exactly where I said I put them.”

“Do you expect me to believe that marshmallows, graham crackers, and chocolate bars just disappeared into thin air?”

“My expectations for you are slight in virtually every area of life, Uncle Finster.”

“What you can expect, is for me to teach you a lesson about forgetting the marshmallows, graham crackers, and chocolate bars, with this business end of this hatchet.”

Your Uncle Finster lets loose a bloodcurdling scream and charges you, swinging the hatchet at your head.

You jerk awake to realize it was all just a bizarre dream…or was it a premonition.

You’d better make certain you bring all the fixings for s’mores to the big family reunion, because you have an Uncle Finster, and he has a hatchet.

family reunion
Marshmallows, graham crackers, and chocolate bars.

The Phone Call of Bitter Disappointment (A Family Reunion Part 3)

A family reunion

It’s one of the great deterrents to missing the big family reunion. An occurrence that is both chilling and soul crushing. It spawns nightmares. It is the phone call of bitter disappointment.

You: Hello.

Your grandmother: I can see you’re well enough to answer your phone.

You: I’m doing better.

Your grandmother: We missed you at the reunion.

Your family doesn’t really miss you in the way a caring human being misses another human being; they miss you the way a viper strikes at a helpless bunny but misses.

You: I was in a car accident.

Your grandmother: How could you be so careless when you know the big family reunion is coming up.

You: The other guy ran a stop sign.

Your grandmother: Don’t blame some innocent person because you couldn’t be bothered to spend some time with your family.

You: He wasn’t as much innocent as he was a serial killer attempting to evade the police.

Your grandmother: I’ll bet he spent time with his family.

You: I’m sure he did; it takes time to cut people into tiny pieces and bury them in the backyard.

Your grandmother: He obviously puts more thought into his family than you do.

You: Oh, I think our thoughts are the same, the difference is in the execution.

Your grandmother: What’s that?

You: Never mind. Anyway, I have several broken bones.

Your grandmother: Just several? How many is several?

You: Five.

Your grandmother: Just five? There are thousands of bones in the human body.

You: I think there’s only 206 bones in the human body.

Your grandmother: So you have over 200 bones in your body that are perfectly fine.

You: Yes, but some of the broken ones are pretty important.

Your grandmother: More important than your family?

You: One of them punctured a lung.

Your grandmother: You have two lungs don’t you? Or do I have that number wrong too?

You: No. I think that’s the correct amount.

Your grandmother: Do you remember the year your Uncle Chet had that horrible accident? He stayed all the way until the end the reunion…even with that arrow stuck in the side of his head.

You: Strictly speaking, I’m not sure it qualifies as an accident if someone shoots you on purpose.

Your grandmother: Regardless, he sat there quietly without a word of complaint. Brain fluid dripping out–it almost put me off your Aunt Zelda’s potato salad.

You: I wish we could get through just one family get-together without some form of bodily fluid making an appearance…or Aunt Zelda’s potato salad.

Your grandmother: The point is: if your uncle could be there with an injured brain, you could have been there with an injured lung.

You: To be fair–I actually use my lungs.

Your grandmother: You are a bitter disappointment.

You: I am aware of that.

Your grandmother: I’ll probably be dead before next year’s reunion.

You: hopefully one of us will be.

You hear the receiver crash into the cradle as your grandmother hangs up on you. You’ve always thought your grandmother has kept that old rotary phone just for the ability to dramatically slam the phone down.

You can’t recall the last conversation with her that actually ended with a goodbye.


A family reunion

Searching for a Way Out (A Family Reunion Part 2)

dark skies
The big family reunion is on the horizon.

As the day of the big family reunion approaches you can feel a change in the atmosphere. The air grows still and thick, as if girding itself for an oncoming cataclysm.

Your mind begins to feverishly search for any strategy to avoid the event.

The problem is you can’t just make up any old story. The family has dug its meddling, controlling, abusive, tentacles so deeply into your life, that parasite that’s been burrowing its way through your brain thinks they’re intrusive.

Your family has spies everywhere–they’re like the KGB, but without the warm fuzziness of Soviet communism.

Virtually every scheme that has any hope of success involves extensive plastic surgery, funneling large sums of money to a man named Guido who is of shady repute, and learning to speak a broken form of Mandarin.

You consider changing your name, moving to Botswana, and becoming a mime. Your plan however has one fatal flaw: mimes suck.

Maybe if you’re stricken with some horrible illness such as Ebola, or the Bubonic Plague, you could justifiably avoid the festivities. But you give up on that thought–you’re just not that lucky. Besides, the family would expect you to roll up to the reunion in a quarantine bubble like some pathetic human gerbil.

And you can remember the year Cousin Ricky skipped the reunion because he selfishly had his burst appendix removed. Your aunts made his life a level of Hell that not even Dante could envision.

But most importantly, you don’t want to have to deal with “the phone call of bitter disappointment” from your grandmother. It’s been known to crack terrorists faster than waterboarding. And some of them didn’t even speak English.

So unless you unexpectedly die (fingers crossed) you’ll be going to the big family reunion.


hamster ball
You made it to the reunion.
family reunion

The Dreading (A Family Reunion)

The Dreading

So you think your family is miserable?

Well I have a few questions for you.

Does the thought of attending the big family reunion fill you with dread? And not ordinary dread: death, illness, or your aunt’s potato salad. But that crazy buried alive in a coffin filled with spiders type of dread…and your aunt’s potato salad?

Are they all going to be there: Grandma, aunts, uncles, cousins, second cousins, Cousin It, that cousin that everyone thinks is a hobbit, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, not so great-grandchildren, in-laws, outlaws, felons, those who aren’t felons, but who have court date pending, significant others, insignificant others, and that weird guy with the eye-patch that doesn’t seem to belong to any particular family, but who always seems to be there?

Do you equate spending the day with the extended family with that disturbing dentist/torture scene from The Marathon Man?

When you’re with the extended family, do you wistfully think of Dustin Hoffman’s character from The Marathon Man, and think: lucky bastard?

Does the family raging around you, have the same effect on your brain as a sweaty 300 pound construction worker pounding on your skull with a jack hammer, while he lustily puffs cigar smoke in your face and curses at you in Portuguese?

Does the date of your family reunion on your calendar have the word, Armageddon, written across it in blood?

Does it bother you that you don’t know whose blood it is?

As the date of the family reunion approaches, do you feel like a lemming speeding toward the cliff, but there’s nothing you can do about it?

If that is how you feel–then this blog is for you.

family reunion