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Sometimes ya just can't win

Posted: November 24, 2012 - 3:51pm

By the time you read this we should have resurfaced from a southern sojourn to western Washington. The impetus for our travel was that a curmudgeon uncle said he was getting ready to declare me dead.

It seems my truculent Uncle Sid had decided that since I hadn’t visited in so long and was, according to his standards, decidedly remiss in calling or writing that he had no choice but to deduce that I was permanently horizontal and had assumed the temperature of the air surrounding a standard stiff.    

This subtle notice of my imminent demise was brought to my wife’s attention when she received an invitation to a memorial service for me to be held during Sid’ hosting of his side of the family’s upcoming Thanksgiving gathering where he provides the garage and the guests everything else.

Jane was mortified and claimed that she had been warning me about his growing discontent ever since he started sending her sympathy cards and flower drawings with little satirical notes alluding to the fact that he hadn’t heard from me in so long that he figured I must have become part of an “all-you-can-eat” buffet for some one ton Alaskan Winnie the Po’d.

The accusation that I was remiss in family reunion accountability was nonsense of course because I distinctly recalled a get-together with him sometime in the late 80s. This didn’t cut it with the miffed missus, nor did the idea of petitioning the government to declare Christmas cards as being official Family Contact Documents.

She then alleged that I was a consummate procrastinator and before I could finish asking her to run that by me one more time along with pertinent point justifications of her argument she was on the phone arranging for plane tickets and some sort of cheapo rental from an outfit specializing in demolition derby leftovers.

I tried to explain that we should chill for now and maybe plan something for next year because I was deep into some last minute research on a magazine article that was running almost a month late and it wasn’t my fault.

I honestly had every intention of finishing up on my study of the libidinous proclivities of the domestic mollusks being raised on the south side of Kachemak Bay and how their behavioral idiosyncrasies presumably produce an enzyme within the flesh of the raw oyster that, when consumed, enhances one’s ability to mimic the Energizer Bunny during amorous encounters of the warm and fuzzy kind (true stuff). Unfortunately studying the shy creatures had turned out to be especially time consuming and difficult because of their tendency to move slowly even during full rut which, in turn, is why I was woefully behind in my professional commitment and needed more time.

I added that this kind of serious research might actually explain why some normally rational adults suddenly become eager to gulp something that looks like a moose sneezed on a half shell. That fact alone was worth missing another attempt by my borderline psychotic relative to deep-fry a filched goose while the local fire department uses the event for emergency training.      

I went on to plead that such heady stuff could lead to a Pulitzer Prize and guarantee a raise equaling the basic income of a day school graduate but to no avail.

To sum things up, the visit went just fine and was blaze free because Aunt Linda insisted on roasting a traditional turkey and prohibited Sid from going anywhere near anything flammable. It was terrific to visit with the family members who were brave enough to show up and it was especially nice that they brought video holiday greetings from those who had kids to consider and were still stunned by his great boiling oil bird conflagration of 2008.

Don’t get me wrong. I love family gatherings whether they are held during the holidays or just a spur-of-the-moment picnic. In fact I was going to suggest that we host Thanksgiving dinner for Jane’s family next year until I found out that she was related to half of Ohio and we’d have to lease the Sullivan Area in Anchorage just accommodate the children so I recommended Sid’s garage as an option. I’m now on familiar terms with the meaning of “stone silence.”

Anyway, Uncle Sid has put my obituary on hold and issued an invitation to his next hosting in 2016. I’ll try but I’m sure if I check my calendar I’m scheduled to be tied up covering a rare garden slug migration in Bolivia.

Bummer.

Nick can be reached at ncvarney@gmail.com if he isn’t still trying to sneak up on modest mollusks in the privacy of their beds.

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