True tales from the life of a jackass
So, it’s August, and that means I’m at another family reunion at Madame Matriarch’s lakehouse (my husband calls it “vacation”). It’s taken a long 10 years to go from barely tolerated outsider to one of the gang, so to speak. I think sufficient time has passed that I can pause and reflect on those things that initially caused fear and trepidation on the part of the family.
First of all, I have a lot of things working against me from the get go. I do not like to be touched, they are a very huggy-kissy family. I do not smile often, which causes most people to assume that I am pissed all the time. I was a brooding intellectual goth-girl type, they consist of beauty pageant contestants, cheerleaders and show choir participants. I must strictly limit carbohydrates due to an issue with insulin resistance and could become a vegetarian at any given moment; they subsist mainly off of red meat products and carbohydrates. I am highly suspect of organized religion, they are all devoutly religious. You see where this is going? It’s a goddamned disaster waiting to happen.
I also come from a pretty small family (one brother) and due to geographical limitations, most holidays were spent with just my mother, father, brother and I. Our idea of vacation is to buy a stack of magazines, go to separate locations in a house, and reconvene for designated meal times. It was not frowned upon to take off on your own for the day, even in satellite vacation spots. You could really do whatever you wanted. It was peaceful, and it was synonymous with vacation. Activities were rarely planned. This did not adequately prepare me for the first “vacation” with my husband’s family.
Though lovely people, there were a crapload of them. It is not unheard of for us to cram 16 people into a three bedroom house, with two bathrooms. Guess what I happens first when I am in a house with 16 people? I don’t go to the bathroom. This starts a disastrous sequence of events. Panic. Stomach pains. Bloating. Irritability. I’ve spoken to others brave enough to talk, and this seems to be universal consequence of vacationing. I’m just saying it is not helpful.
Then comes the march of the meat products, which delights my husband to no end. Flank steak, pork, steak sandwiches (from leftover flank steak) filet mignon, and bratwursts are but a sampling. All delicious, if you are a lover of the meat. Not great if you still haven’t gone to the bathroom. Of course I look ungrateful when I decline said meat product, but I know my stomach, and I know to steer clear. But I look like a jackass when I pull out a packet of vegetables from my little cooler I have brought in case of emergency.
It is my gastric burden to bear, for I am the one with a finicky stomach, but there is no way to be discreet about sneaking your own food, especially when it is instead of filet mignon, an internationally confirmed delight.
In that first year, I was mortified when the entire family unabashedly broke into song while doing the dinner dishes. Cheeks burning red, I retreated to my room hastily. Were they mad? Who the hell breaks out into spontaneous song, in front of a virtual stranger? Well, this family does, and does often. It’s one of their loves, and now that they don’t try to pull me into the fray I’m okay with it. It took several years to convince them that under no circumstances will I ever participate.
Right now I am hiding out from the “family olympics” competition. There are multiple challenges that the family is timed doing, and everyone competes for a trophy. Except me. I *do not* want a snake biting me while I try to leap into my kayak to reach the dock across the cove.
Last year my father-i n-law had a blood pressure cuff per doctors orders, and the competitive nature of the boys in the family could not be tamed. They wanted to make a competition out of seeing who had the lowest blood pressure. The mere fact that they made that a competition caused my blood pressure to rise, which I found to be a disingenuous representation of my real blood pressure. Play fair, dammit!
Now, I am going to drive to a gas station to use the bathroom.