Another Easter and another family gathering has come and gone. It reminds me why we don’t do it more often. I don’t know who was worse this time around. Crazy Aunt Janet or Mysterious Uncle Earl. By the way, the names have been changed to protect the insane. But there they are, doing what they do best. Making a mockery of everything that’s good and wholesome in the human race. I look at other family members that appear normal and think to myself. Does every family have the dysfunctional side? The answers seems to be a resounding yes.
I’ve been to other family picnics, barbeques, and weddings. Invariably, someone will pull me aside and point out their “pariah. ” It can be the “gay cousin, , ” the “anti-social brother” the “gossipy-aunt” or the “grandfather –from-hell” that hates everyone. They then proceed to tell me the latest incident which made them infamous and had them earn their nickname. They are probably wondering if their family is the only one with wacko relatives.
But the larger the family, the more likely there will be one or two or more. I cringe when mine gets together. It can also include the bizarre in-laws. I have a few that I could write a book (or article) about. They are rude, obnoxious, arrogant, and distasteful. But they are also fairly rich so that makes it okay. After all, don’t the wealthy get a free pass? They can screw up and say the most outrageous things and get away with it. It reminds me of Mel Gibson or someone famous that tears apart a whole segment of society. But they are just being “insensitive” or a little “politically incorrect, ” so what the heck? Look at all the money and fame they have that makes it all okay to say what ever comes to mind?
One family member was recently convicted of shoplifting. They were caught red-handed by the store detective but hired a high-powered attorney for half a million or so and got off with just a stern warning. I guess they just pleaded “I’ve got lots of money, your honor” and got the “get-out-of-jail-free” card handed to them. But it’s not being rich that can get you respect. If you’re a doctor or attorney, you can make an absolute ass of yourself at a family social event and barely get a glance. After all, it’s Dr. Greg or Jerry-At-Law. They must be really smart and so let’s overlook the fact they have the social graces of a howler monkey in heat.
I feel sorry for some of my lousy relatives because I don’t think they know how pathetic they are. My dad, who passed away a few years ago, was one. He said the most insensitive things and hurt me many times, He was a liar, a lout, but, because he was from England and still had his British accent (although he came to America over 50 years ago) he appeared smart, courteous, and incapable of a snide remark. Yet he was abrasive and abusive and did his best to put down every American he came in contact with. Which was 99.9% of the time. I don’t miss him one bit, but wish I could have straightened him out during his lifetime.
My point is that we shouldn’t have to put up with relatives that either hurt us, make fools of themselves or are an embarrassment to themselves and family. They should be told and admonished. We owe it to the other relatives to help smooth over the rough edges and attempt to make future family occasions a more happy event. That way, we don’t have to focus on Nutsy Uncle Ned farting all the while and Curious Aunt Helga asking me why I’m so fat every time we meet. Instead I can enjoy my family celebrations and go back to just looking down the blouses of the well-endowed female relatives and whistling different bird calls I’ve learned over the years.
Jeffrey Hauser was a sales consultant for the Bell System Yellow Pages for nearly 25 years. He graduated from Pratt Institute with a BFA in Advertising and has a Master's Degree in teaching. He had his own advertising agency in Scottsdale, Arizona and ran a consulting and design firm, ABC Advertising. He has authored 6 books and a novel, “Pursuit of the Phoenix. " His latest book is, “Inside the Yellow Pages" which can be seen at his website, http://www.poweradbook.com Currently, he is the Marketing Director for http://www.thenurseschoice.com a Health Information and Doctor Referral site.