Many of you will probably attend a family reunion this summer. And many will probably then take whatever steps are necessary to legally declare that they have absolutely no relatives.
Not living. Not deceased. And definitely not crammed around a picnic table forcing innocent people to eat Aunt Ebba’s radioactive potato salad.
Of course, I’d be the last to imply that most people, after spending several hours at a family reunion, are haunted by a single question: How can I be related to these people?
That would be silly. In fact, based on numerous scientific studies, this question occurs to the average person after spending less than four minutes at a family reunion.
I recently returned from just such a gathering. Or, as I detailed in a sworn deposition to the FBI: “From being kidnapped and held hostage by terrorist-like individuals who actually offered me Trail Mix, and claimed to have no knowledge of the nearest factory outlet mall.”
First, I was herded into a van the size of Canada. That way, everyone, including Uncle Gunnar, could fit. He was then able to spend the next two hours repeating the same story every 12 minutes until someone had the presence of mind to slip into a coma.
At which point Uncle Gunnar asked, with extreme concern in his voice, “Did I ever tell ya ’bout the time I thought I was in a coma?”
So, we’re driving along, and rather than follow my suggestion—“Please! Just let me jump!”—I’m informed we’re going to a place I thought only existed in the twisted imagination of PBS documentary filmmakers.
Yes. A nature center.
Somewhat skeptical initially, I subtly inquired: “Are you people completely insane? Why not just drive through the bowels of Hell, and condemn our souls to eternal damnation?”
But as we pulled up to the nature center, it was clear I was way off base. A trip to Hell would have been just fine. At least Hell, to my knowledge, does not have hiking trails.
I have since learned that hiking trails are designed by people who have no concept of how nature was meant to be enjoyed: on a big-screen TV, in an air-conditioned lounge, with two-for-one well drinks, and free popcorn.
So, we all start hiking down this path, which, I believe, early settlers dubbed the “Trail of Death Where Mosquitoes Eat Entire Families Before Brunch.”
Swell. Let them start with Uncle Gunnar. I had bigger problems to deal with: There were all these plants growing along the sides of the trail, and, for reasons only a geneticist who studied the effects of replacing a human brain with a hunk of Play-Doh can understand, my relatives found this stuff fascinating.
They had to stop at every single plant. Smell it. Touch it. And then take several hundred photographs to be shared at a future family gathering during which I will be forced to say: “Yes, Aunt Marta. That is a very unusual leaf. It looks nothing like the other 52 pictures of identical green things with stems.”
And I can’t even begin to tell you the excitement that broke out when a badger was spotted sitting on a rock.
At first glance, I thought it was Cousin Roy’s kid. But then, I noticed that the rodent, although it seemed to be facing the same dental challenges as Roy Jr., wasn’t constantly picking its nose.
I was about to give my “I’m Willing To Sign Over My College Grant Money to Anyone Who Can Help Me Prove I Was Switched at Birth” speech, when we reached our final stop. Yep, after walking half the distance to the sun accompanied by Uncle Albert, who truly believes he’ll find a perfectly nice family to rent his chicken coop, my reward was to behold…
The nation’s largest natural bog.
Of course, the relatives were incredibly excited. I, on the other hand, believed we were staring at an oversized green sponge that looked just a little bit two much like…
Aunt Ebba’s potato salad.
Roll eyes here, and just consider the source.
Bye for now.