I know what you're thinking. "Brown, if it's a 24 Hour Vacation, how is one day a Travel Day?" Well the answer is that since the vacation was so short, it was like we were basically traveling the entire time, thus making it a "travel day."
The real answer is that I'm an idiot and I fucked up. Are you happy now? I shit the bed, okay? Jesus what is the matter with you? You think this blog is up for a Pulitzer? Does it make you feel like a big man to brow-beat a poor young man just trying to get by on a simple blogger's wages? Do you know how much a blogger makes? Nothing! Since 2005 the total compensation I've gotten for this blog amounts to a wooden nickel, three buttons and used dental floss. So guess what. You get what you pay for, fucker.
So there we were, in the car on the way to Aunt Lynn's house. The conversation went like this:
Brown: So what do I need to know before I meet everyone?
Ally: Well, Aunt Lynn is really nice.
Xmas Girl: Nicest woman you'll ever meet.
Zolak: She's cool; you'll like her.
Brown: Aww that's cool. I love meeting the family. I can't wait!
Xmas Girl: Grandma is the best. She is only about 5'1", maybe 4'11", but she's a straight shooter.
Ally: She doesn't pull punches.
Zolak: It's funny to hear such awful language coming out of someone who's only 4'7".
Brown: Heh, that's fine. My family is rough-and-tumble. We all go at each other. I can handle it.
Ally: And then there's our cousin Lauren. She is very, very Staten Island.
Brown: Uhhh, coooolll...
Zolak: And her husband Ralph is even worse.
Brown: God, really?
Xmas Girl: And then there's the baby. He may be the most Italian one.
Brown: How is a baby that Italian already? He's a fucking baby!
Ally: Uncle Joey hates John.
Zolak: John is a cokehead.
Brown: Who is John??
Xmas Girl: Grandma's husband.
Brown: Jesus Christ! How is a grandfather a cokehead? What is he 80 years old? Does coke make old people move at normal speed? Where does an 80 year old even find blow? Does he page a 17 year old and then blow rails off a poster of the Rat Pack? Hold on, my head is spinning.
Ally: Well there was an issue of money, and cars, and stealing...you know, coke stuff.
Brown: Stealing off your four foot grandma??
Xmas Girl: Oh and also? Everyone is pretty much racist.
Brown: Right. Can we pull over? I'm gonna throw up.
I guess they thought I was kidding because they did not pull over. We did, however, take several U-turns due to Uncle Joey's explicit directions. "Once you pass the billboard with the sign for the Magic Show on the back, then you know you've passed it."
I guess Uncle Joey doesn't read the blog, because if he did, he'd know that "then you know you've past it" is never a part of directions. And have you ever tried to look at the back of a billboard while driving? That shit is fucking impossible. But thanks Uncle Joey. You turned a ten minute drive into just a shade under an hour. Well done. I haven't even met you and I like you already.
We get to the house and Uncle Joey is sitting in the garage on a stool, which I found an odd place to wait for someone, since it was 107 degrees out. But he did have a tank top with gaping arm holes, so I guess he was good to go. We make small talk as we walk in the house when Aunt Lynn pops up with a giant "SHHH!"
We whisper, "Oh my god, I'm sorry. Is the baby sleeping?"
"No. Ralph is."
Ralph? The baby's father? An adult? Great. Since when do I have to tiptoe around a grown man sleeping? He's not my father. I'm pretty sure I'll talk in normal tones and if he wakes up, then I guess he'll just have to deal with a short nap today. Poor
I sit down on the couch and nervously pick up one of the baby's toys to occupy myself, when what looks like a one foot tall Italian stereotype enters the room. This baby gangster turns the corner like he's going to shoot me for touching his toy, or more accurately, like he's going to posture that he will shoot me for touching his toy, then go home and watch his Sopranos DVD box set. Either way, I quickly dropped his oily rattle as I was approached by the ugliest baby ever.
Now when I say that this baby is the ugliest baby ever, I am exaggerating. This baby was merely the ugliest baby I've ever seen. I'm sure there are some uglier babies in Uganda or something, but this was definitely the ugliest baby in America. This baby is First World ugly. Luckily, XG and the gang quickly get us out and on our way to Grandma's, who lives half a block away. Aunt Lynn calls Grandma a "bitch" then insists that she is coming with us. I see no way that this can end badly.
As the door to the house opens, I am greeted by Grandma, who stands at just about 3'5". She is a bit banged up from a recent fall and walks around gingerly, but you can tell her mind is sharp by her impressive array of curses. We sit down on the couch and go through the usual small talk until Aunt Lynn interrupts the conversation to announce her disgust with a loud "UGH." It appears John has arrived.
John is a large, jovial, red-faced old man. I know what you're thinking, and you are absolutely correct. John is exactly like Santa Claus...except John is jovial because he is coked up, red-faced because he's drunk, and looks about two days older than Saint Nick. Also, John smokes a cigar and is racist. Besides that they are exactly alike. But hey, they both love to play with elves.
In talking to John I see that he is a very charming and sociable man. He clearly loves their Grandma and he takes care of her constantly. This doesn't mean much to Aunt Lynn, however, who is treating everyone to an icy stare and silence combo. Apparently, she prefers to focus on the fact that he does copious amounts of blow, has lost and/or stolen the car, and engages in unholy acts with other women.
Now I can't attest to the validity of these claims. I do not know how an 80 year old man gets coke, but I certainly saw him in some sort of altered state. I do not know the car situation, though the grandkids confirm there are police records to prove it. And hey, maybe that makes him a bad husband, I don't know. But one thing is for sure: this guy is absolutely NOT out crushing the singles scene getting pussy thrown to him like frisbees.
He has a giant coke problem. He froths at the mouth. You can't understand him. He is older than dirt. If this guy is out getting ass, then I'm going to kill myself. Because my single sexual life consisted of...well, it was horrible. I don't feel like talking about it. Read the archives. So I'm sure Johnny Boy is out getting fucked up. I'm sure he's even leering at other women, or whatever old men do. But trust me, Lynn, this guy is not getting laid.
We tapdance around the elephant in the room for about an hour or five, until he would be ignored no more. John lights the fuse by asking us if we all want some pizza, that fucking dick. Aunt Lynn flips out, yelling through her teeth at Grandma. "I bought eighty dollars worth of cold cuts, and you're gonna get pizza? Fine, get your fuckin pizza, waste eighty dollars. But you know what, next time tell me you're gonna get pizza so I don't waste eighty dollars on fucking cold cuts!" Hey Aunt Lynn, how much were the cold cuts?
We politely agree to some pizza, and John obliges to pick it up. Aunt Lynn thinks an appropriate reaction is to dart out of the house and storm down the block. Ally sends Zolak to go talk to her. FUCK. That is going to be me in two years, walking with a frantically pacing relative, talking about expensive lunch meats.
Zolak calms her down with a pro bono therapy session, and she returns to exchange a fake pleasantry and goodbye. We wait another hour until John returns with the pizza, considerably more red in the face. The girls surmise that he went out to bang out a few quick shots/rails/hookers before he got the pizza. I don't know why they're so skeptical, I think he just really wanted the best pizza he could find. And his face was red from all that Myrtle Beach heat! No? Are those no good? See. This is why I couldn't be a player like John. I have no game.
Now we are forced to fake smile and eat fake pizza. As I'm looking around for cues, I see XG motion me to keep eating more pizza. Being a skinny guy, you can never make the mistake of not eating a lot around family friends anyone. If I eat anything less than a five-course meal, I always get the requisite, "Pff, no wonder you're so skinny!" When do I get to play the No Wonder You're So Fat game? Huh? When is that gonna happen, God? Still waiting on that one.
So I eat slice after slice of this cardboard until XG tells me it's time to go. Finally, we can leave! Finally, we can go to the hotel! Finally, I can change out of the clothes I wore through the flight!
What? No? I didn't quite catch that. I thought you said we weren't going back to the hotel. Oh. We aren't. Umm, why not? Because we're going BACK TO AUNT LYNN'S??? WHY IN THE FUCK WOULD WE DO THAT?!? WE HAVE TO EAT MORE FOOD NOW??? THEN WHY WOULD YOU MAKE ME EAT ALL THAT PIZZA?!!? IS THIS SOME SORT OF BIZARRE FAMILY GAUNTLET I HAVE TO RUN WHERE I MEET AND GREET FIGHTING RELATIVES AND EAT MY WAY THROUGH CHALLENGES?? HOW LONG CAN ONE FUCKING DAY BE??????
As I walk back into Aunt Lynn's, I see Uncle Joey at his usual post-up in the garage, and he offers me a greeting in his usual candor.
"Hey. So how's Dickface?"
I don't know, Fart Pants. Is that an actual question? You were here, by yourself, for hours and the best you could come up with was "Dickface?" Are you sure you don't want to just leave that on his MySpace page? I don't care if you guys hate each other, but can you please not turn this into an episode of Saved By The Bell where I'm playing Mr. Belding?
At Aunt Lynn's we are presented with a mountain of meat. I try to make a giant sandwich to appease the family, and end up choking down a horrendous meal. I stare at a spot on the wall as Aunt Lynn bombards me with questions that frankly, I don't think anyone has the answer to. "It's okay if he wants to get coked up and lose the car, but it's also okay for him to call me a fat fuck?" Umm, Lynn, my dear? I really don't know what to tell you about that.
After about 67 hours of family time, we retreat to the hotel for the first time. I stare at the pool from the window, but I don't even feel like moving an inch to go down there. Plus, a lot of the people down there look fat. Instead I lay on the bed and try to regulate my breathing.
It's only 5 PM.
You still have to go to dinner.
And everyone is going to be there...