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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Reunion

Now I never thought I could feel a sadness that could bring me so down
And I never thought there'd be a time where my heart had no song

 

This last weekend I attended another family reunion--the second in two years (thanks grandma).  This is what I wrote for the last reunion we had a couple years ago.  My uncle held it at his house and it was actually pretty fun.  I learned that my Iowa family came from Wisconsin and I got to see a lot of old pictures of some relatives.  It was actually a lot better than I was dreading.

This year I still had the dread, I was still a bit stubborn about going, and I was hopeful that it would turn out nice. 

It was indeed dreadful.

It started out with my brother being an hour in a half late to pick me up which didn't bother me too much but why couldn't he call?  He also refused to leave the radio on one station so I tried to ignore it but I just....couldn't.  He'd flip through all the stations until he found that one song that he was looking for and then flip around some more.  I think he did more flipping than not. 

He'd leave it on a station with Zeppelin but it wouldn't be good enough.
He'd then switch to a station with Melloncamp--okay but that wouldn't be good enough either.
Then it was Maroon five (which I'm glad he changed it), then Carly Simon, Bob Dylan, some Rap, and finally he'd hear the most annoying punk song and he'd leave the station right there.  I was not in a good mood.

We finally arrived at the Knights of Columbus hall where we all were meeting.  Everyone parked in the designated parking spaces in the back of the joint except everyone who wanted to brag about their car where the handicapped were supposed to park right up in front.  We drove up and saw a Lexus, Benz, Caddy, Caddy, and another Caddy all parked right up in front, right in a row.  They might as well have just left a piece of paper with the size of their penises in those spaces with how blatantly obvious they were trying to be.  I say this because every year it's the same thing between my dad and my uncles.  They all feel this need to show off their vehicles and one-up each other.  A couple years ago Suburbans were all the craze and everyone had their waaay oversized vehicles.  Even if they had to travel long distances (like my dad) and they could've saved some money driving a suitable car, they would still drive their gas guzzler because they had to brag.  This year it was the luxury car since gas prices are so high.  It's not as if they're rich because they're not, it's more like they are hard working middle class folks who want to have the identity of being rich.  That's what really irritates me.

So we head in the Knights of Columbus hall.  We were a bit late and we entered with everyone sitting down and eating.  I've always considered my family to be a large one but with everyone sitting in this smallish room it doesn't seem as big.  Everyone was eating right away and my bro and I sat next to our parents and made small talk with everyone around.  After that it was just mingling which is extremely boring for me.

I hate mingling.  I need an activity.  The last reunion we had horse shoes, a football, and a four wheeler to mess around with.  For this one we didn't have anything but tables and chairs and being inside on a wonderful day.  I need something to do while I talk so I don't have to stand and talk about stupid shit like "What I'm up to nowadays" and "if I still work at MMM". I find those questions to be elevator questions.  Like, if you see a longtime acquaintance in the elevator and you ask what they're up to.  You don't really care, you're just trying to make small talk to pass the time.  I find it stupid and a waste of time.  I know others like it and probably care but it's probably just the introvert in me.  It's also why I believe these family get-together's should be every 5 years because then it's like a brand new slate and the small talk questions would seem more genuine. 

Every year I attend the yearly get-together and I'm always mad that not all the cousins come.  There are 14 cousins and nine ended up coming: five of which live in-town so they basically have no choice but to come.  Because all the cousins never show up (or want to show up), I've wondered if these get-togethers are only for the aunts and uncles.  After all, they once lived together and they have a good times to reminisce.  Us cousins only hung out maybe once a year and never really established much of a bond or have much to talk about.  I guess it's just a matter of a simple conversation but every year it's like starting over.  Every year everyone calls me Tim and my name was even spelled wrong on the family tree.  Such details usually don't faze me but this is my family.  Even acquaintances at work get my name right, why can't my extended family know the obvious difference between me and my bro? 

So anyway enough of the family catharsis.  My brother and I then walked over to the county fair for a nice break from the old folks mingling.  The county fair was great for the shocking factor. 

For instance my brother and I walked towards the "midway" and we were questioning if the fair was even open.  It was 4pm on a Saturday and usually this is a prime fair going time but there wasn't a soul there.  There were only carneys.  We walked slowly amongst the 6 small rides with the carneys leaning on their fence and eyeing us up.  It was almost like walking in a zoo where the carneys were in their own little cage and begging us to let them out. There was one hot dog stand that looked deserted and a grill that had like 5 young waitresses waiting around.  This was truly a bizarre scene.

My brother and I then walked to the nearby 4-H building and 4-H is something that I will never understand. Inside were a bunch of projects that various kids in the area had been working on.  There were some beautiful quilts, some really good craftsmanship, and some interesting reports on various things like photosynthesis and soil horizons.  Then there were projects that looked like they were bought at Ikea and simple structures made out of legos.  Someone even brought in a Wii system and received a ribbon for that.  I wonder if I could take a dump in a pair of shit-kickers and receive a ribbon for that? 

It was pretty cool for us cityfolk seeing the animals.  The 4H kids were in the pigpen and slapping the pigs with fly swatters in an effort to keep them from walking along the sides of the pen.  It was good entertainment actually.  Then there were the horses, sheep, and cows which are always nice to feed.

I almost wanted to stay there for the night because they were having figure 8 racing where you end up seeing car crashes in the middle of the figure 8 but I didn't because 3 hours of Iowa is too much as it is.  They did have a demolition derby the night before and I remember my aunt taking me to one when I was like 6 years old. 

It was a very awkward day.  It's not like I dislike my relatives but I just feel uncomfortable going through the same cheap conversations every single year.  It's almost like we need to take a train ride somewhere together or find some sort of common ground so we can all naturally get to know each other.  Whatever, until the next family reunion. 

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