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October 13, 2002

Relatively Speaking Today felt lazy,

Relatively Speaking

Today felt lazy, even though the evidence in retrospect seems to rule against that interpretation. How any day could seem lazy when it revolved around a toddler who was up at 7, took no nap to speak of and was still shrieking in ecstasy and running around at 9 at night? We must have tag-teamed the child fairly well today, as there were no "must grit teeth and keep parenting" moments that I can recall. It helped that there was a third adult here for most of the morning, someone new to for Ngnat to force a tea party on while her parents levered open their wits with newspapers and coffee. I'm not sure where she got the idea that assorted hair bows, scrunchies and clips made an adequate replacement for scones and chocolate biscuits, but Uncle Kevin gamely fought through his hangover long enough to make polite conversation about extra lashings of sugar and cream in his entirely imaginary Earl Grey.

Wait, did I say hangover? Sorry, force of habit. Time was when we would have stayed up all night, accumulating a forest of beer bottles on the coffee table while we caroused until the wee hours, but that was a different Uncle Kevin. This Uncle Kevin fell asleep while sitting bolt upright on the sofa, after four beers, three hours before midnight. This was the same man who had complained less than an hour earlier that he always saw the end of a movie alone, as his wife inevitably fell asleep halfway through. Six minutes into Brotherhood of the Wolf and bam!, Mr. Sandman coshes him on the back of the head.

Having nothing better to do, I threw a blanket on him, went to bed and watched the rest of Trading Spaces with the wife, a woman who, not so long ago, would buy a pitcher just for herself five minutes before the 2:00 am last call at the karaoke bar. We were lights out and horizontal by 10:15.

I wouldn't trade what I have now for then, but it would be nice to go back and visit occasionally.

Uncle Kevin is no uncle, as people who know my family will swear, unless one of my parents was far more active back in the sixties than anyone would otherwise suspect. We have an odd tradition of awarding friends of the family a kind of technical relative status. I had an Uncle Max, an Uncle Jim and an Aunt Honey who I saw far more in my childhood than I did some of my real relatives. Liked them a lot better too. The actual definition of family with us is pretty amorphous, and depending on the circumstances can stretch from immediate family to cover the in-laws of in-laws as well as good friends. It drives the accountant wife up a wall, since she can never tell whether she is to prepare herself for a quiet evening with a small circle of relatives, or for something approaching the size of a Catholic wedding party.

We've had a "family" beach trip the past two years, where the first thing out of my father's mouth once we were settled in was "When's Kevin coming?" This year, the "family" beach trip included a cousin, his new wife and their two friends, whom we had never met. I cooked them scrambled eggs and made sure they had enough beer. Dad regaled them with a story from his childhood where he cons a man into buying a bag of turds for a dime, and the wife's head popped off and flew around the room, shrieking imprecations at the heavens.

I always figured that it was just another Southern thing, but the very mention of the practice causes visible shudders to travel up and down the wife's spine, so possibly it's just a leftover from Dad's early cracker days in Mississippi, when it was safest just assume you were related to everyone and not pry too deeply into the actual bloodlines. He does have double first cousins, a fact of which he is inordinately proud, and will not hesitate to share with you should the subject come up, or even when it does not. Another genealogical factoid that we're all pretty happy about is that he and the sainted wife are, according to Mom, the keeper of the ancestral records, 12th cousins. This of course makes Kehaar and I 13th cousins to my wife, a situation treasured by all involved with the singular exception of my wife.

She's learned to deal with it, except for the times when Kehaar tells Ngnat to call him "Uncle Cousin."

Posted by Bigwig at October 13, 2002 11:29 PM | TrackBack
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