Relative Discomfort – Part Two
Time takes it’s toll on all of us. Forty years ago we were the young-uns zipping around like somebody kicked over a fire ant mound. All the while our parents fussed at us for being too loud or leaving the door open or coming in and out too many times. Now the roles are reversed in a cruel way we call maturity and we find ourselves starting to act like our parents. Yes, time has a way of telling on all of us. We can’t even fuss at our kids without hearing our parent’s voices echoing in the back of our heads. It doesn’t take long to go from Kool-Aid to Geritol.
We’re about to slip back into the reunion so no need for etiquette since no one here can spell it. The only culture you’ll find in our family is the buttermilk. Most of us look like we just stepped off the Rent-A-Redneck bus. Don’t let your manners get in the way of having a good time.
On the way to the reunion we got hungry and pulled into Bert’s Big Burgers & Bait Shop. I don’t recommend the crickets as a side order with your burger but they’re probably more nutritious than the french fries. You can get a burger grilled, fried, or flambe if the cook isn’t paying attention. It’s the best place around to get a bite. You can also get your hunting license, buy beer & ammunition – -probably not a good combination- – or buy Real Estate. Talk about your one-stop-shop-all. They even have a tanning bed next door. Bert’s even has sushi. They may look at you funny if you call it by that name. It’s best to call it bait so they know what you want. They usually have plenty of sushi unless the fish are biting.
Cousin Cleo is here but his fiance isn’t with him anymore. Rumor has it that it has something to so with Uncle Herbert, who likes to play his banjo in his skivvies when he’s home alone. He also forgets a lot. Cleo brought his new proud new fiance, some high-falutin’ city girl home to meet the family. They were off in the back and uncle forgot they was there. He made him a sandwich and started playing the banjo …after he’d stripped down to his skivvies like he always does. She happened to walk in on him in mid-concert and promptly lost three years of culture in one glance. Last I heard the engagement is still off and she isn’t taking his phone calls.
The meanest bull in the county lived in the pasture next to mine. They named it ‘Turbo.’ Last kid that ignored Turbo’s turf got dragged through the mud worse than by a Washington Post journalist. When Turbo wasn’t grazing or making little cows, he ruled the pasture. Everybody was scared of him except near-sighted Ned. He thought he was milking a cow and got the bull instead. The bull gives him a wide berth now when he comes around. It took the vet and two psychiatrists from the agriculture school to restore its’ self-esteem.
No kidding! There’s this one cow that can stand inside the fence and lick up strands of grass three feet on the other side of the barbed-wire fence. The kids around here love a good prank so they promised cousin Jeffrey, if he’d put on a blindfold, he could get a kiss from Nadine. Her daddy is the county agent. Nadine was standing right there when they told him and she gave him this big wink. His insides turned to peanut-butter when she smiled and fluttered those eyelids at him. Everybody know Jeffrey loves Nadine, everyone in the county that can read. It says so right up there on the water tower in big red letters. We still don’t know how he got up there. So they blindfolded Jeffrey. Right about then, Nadine stepped aside and that heifer from across the fence got him right in the mouth. We haven’t told him yet and he swears up & down that was the best kiss he ever had! He did say something in private about getting Nadine some mouthwash. When he finally found out, it liked to broke his heart but he was secretly relieved. “Her breath,” he said, “she tasted like regurgitated grass, warmed over.”
Ned makes all the rounds at the reunions. His motto is, “I never met a woman I didn’t hug!” “The younger ones are getting too fast,” he says, “and the older ones can’t get away fast enough.” He’s a little more cautious since the incident last year when he met the local biker dude with the pony tail. He was broad from the backside. I could see how near-sighted Ned could have made the mistake. I guess biker dudes don’t have much a sense of humor. Just in case you didn’t want to know, Uncle Ned runs with his skinny butt tucked in, like as if he were being chased by a bull with his horns in close proximity to its intended target. We know this because Harriet who was dating the biker dude at the time tried to wallop Ned with a broom handle right after the incident.
Aunt Helen’s got that mean little freckle-faced girl with the tooth knocked out, the one with the pigtails tormenting those boys. ‘Sweet-pea’, they call her. She’s wearing coveralls rolled up on her pant legs. Today she’s falling out of trees and chasing snakes. In a couple years nature will do some strange sort of biological reverse engineering and suddenly she’ll be painting her toenails and batting her eyelids like all the other tom-boys before her.
“Hey Aunt Netttie,” I wave. Her nose suddenly got snooty when she saw me. And then I whisper, “She’s got that evil cat, Napoleon. Last time her cat got stuck in the tree, the fire department offered to shoot it down for her for free.”
And here comes Madeline with her itty-bitty chihuahua in her purse. She treats it better than she does her husband. It has the disposition of a piranha with PMS. That’s her husband, the tall lanky fellow. His TV’s been broke for three years now but he’s hard of hearing so he doesn’t know it yet. He lost his glasses about that time as well. After fifteen years of being unhappy and married, they finally worked out all their troubles. Now they live in separate parts of the same house but only see each other once a year except in public. He’s kind of the forgetful type so he has to introduce himself each time he meets you. That’s OK. He can’t remember a thing and she’s trying to forget.
Eventually the foods all gone and there isn’t room for one more dirty dish in the sink. When there’s no one left to offend or talk about behind their back, we all start to filter off one by one. Last one left has to help with the dishes. I’ve got to go now before I break out with a bad case of ‘dishpan’ hands. See you next year!