I Refuse To Cry Uncle

, , , , , , | Related | August 19, 2020

Several years ago, I went back to my hometown to visit my uncle, which coincided with a church event he was overseeing as the pastor. My uncle asked if I could help out with setting up, using the familial tone of, “I’m making it sound voluntary but it really isn’t.” He tried to get me to ride with him in his car to the church, but previous experiences had taught me not to take that offer, so I drove my own car.

It was a good idea in the end, since we arrived at the church at about ten in the morning, six hours before the event, which I think was some kind of holiday potluck — honestly, between all the holiday parties and family reunions I’ve been to over the decades, they all kind of blend together — was meant to start. I tried to help out, mostly in picking up heavy things and being a gofer, but I eventually ran out of things to do. I didn’t know enough of the people helping out, and my few family members were there with their kids, who had also been dragged along, though they at least had brought over their own tablets to play with.

There were about forty-five minutes of time that I spent more or less being a particularly awkward statue, my phone was steadily running out of battery life, and I decided that I wasn’t being productive and told my uncle I was going to head back to his place and clean up for the party. “We need you here,” he said, and listed off all of the things that I’d already helped with. I told him that I was basically just standing around doing nothing. “You could watch the kids,” he suggested, pointing at my cousins, who were between the ages of six and ten at the time, and who chose that moment to start running around screaming, which was a sentiment I could agree with, given just how boring the remaining time between then and the party was going to be.

As politely and respectfully as possible, I declined and said I’d see my uncle at the party since he didn’t seem to need me to assist in the preparations anymore. I also refrained from pointing out that he’d basically brow-beat me into coming and I hadn’t volunteered, nor did I live here anymore anyway.

I could see the gears turning in his head as he tried to think of ways to keep me there, and then, apparently, a lightbulb flashed, and he said, in a smugly familial way, “I can’t really drive you home and back again; I have to stay.”

I drew out my own keys and told him I had driven myself, remember?

My uncle had the audacity to look put-out that I was finding ways out of being his free labor, and he told me that I wouldn’t be able to clean up, since his house doors were locked, as a last resort. I said that was fine; I’d just go to my grandma’s house, which — unlike the venue building — had air-conditioning, and I could help her out with her contribution to the potluck, take a quick shower before leaving, and be at the party without looking — and likely smelling — like I’d just gotten back from the gym.

So, of course, while I was being far more productive helping out my grandma with the food she was making — a big pot of Brunswick stew as well as from-scratch mashed potatoes with bacon bits and homemade brown gravy — I heard secondhand from one of my cousins, the mother of a few of the kids at the venue, that my uncle started loudly complaining that without me, the preparations weren’t going to be finished in time and that I was just being lazy.

Predictably, the preparations were done two hours before the party, and — again, according to my cousin — my uncle was sulking around for some time before he went home to clean up with enough time to come back and greet the first people to come in for the potluck. He didn’t acknowledge me throughout the party, and I was a lot less stressed than I otherwise would have been, so I considered that a win.

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Wait… So, Who All Is Coming?

, , , | Related | August 4, 2020

My aunt tends to repeat an idea multiple times, even if she heard and understood it clearly. At this family gathering, only my younger sister and I are in attendance. The other three members of my family did not come. This conversation ensues.

Aunt: “Is your mother coming?”

Me: “No, she had to do [event].”

Aunt: “Huh? Your mother’s not coming?”

Me: “No, she won’t be coming.”

Aunt: “Then your dad?”

Me: “No, he went with my mother to [event].”

Aunt: “Oh, he’s not coming, either?”

Me: “No, he’s accompanying my mother.”

Aunt: “Then how about [Older Sister]?”

Me: “No, she had to do something for school.”

Aunt: “Oh, [Older Sister] is also not coming?”

Me: “No, she won’t be able to make it.”

Aunt: “So, your mum, your dad, and [Older Sister] are all not coming?”

Me: “No, they won’t be coming.”

Aunt: “Huh, they’re all not coming?”

Me: “No, they’re all not coming.”

Aunt: “So, it’s only you and [Younger Sister] here today?”

Me: “Yes, it’s only me and [Younger Sister].”

Aunt: “Only the two of you?”

Me: “Yes, only us.”

Aunt: “Only the two of you, and the rest of your family aren’t coming?”

Me: *Facepalm*

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Sounds Like He Needs To Review Matthew 6

, , , , | Related | August 3, 2020

My wife and I have been invited to an informal family reunion with some of her relatives from another state, cousins, etc. At lunchtime, we all decide to go to a family-oriented restaurant, knowing that the out-of-state aunt and uncle are very religious, and this restaurant has a very nice reputation. When our food comes, I expect that a blessing will be asked or, as is sometimes done in a public place, each will ask his or her own blessing silently.

Suddenly, the uncle stands up and addresses the entire restaurant.

Uncle: “All right, everybody, stop what you’re doing and be quiet; we’re going to pray.”

There is a mixed reaction among the other guests; some sit quietly, some ignore the uncle, and a few chuckle.

Uncle: “D*** it, shut the h*** up! We’re going to pray now. Everybody hold hands and bow your heads.”

This is followed by about a five-minute prayer stating his beliefs, the destination of all those who don’t believe just like he does, and various ramblings.

Uncle: “…in Jesus’ name, amen. Now let me hear you all say, ‘AMEN!’”

Again, mixed responses.

The server and the manager came over and asked him to please sit down and not make a scene, which did not sit well with him.

My wife and I just wanted to crawl in a hole. It’s not that we are not religious, and not that we don’t ask a private blessing on the food, but I have never seen such a display in my life! We couldn’t wait to eat and get out of there.

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Everyone’s Got Baggage, Not Just Orphans

, , , , | Related | July 31, 2020

I’m at a friend’s house. Her aunt is currently visiting. My friend is a lesbian, and this aunt has been giving my friend a hard time about her homosexuality. While she is not totally homophobic, she just doesn’t understand what it means. I’m a witness to the following exchange.

Aunt: “I still can’t understand why you wouldn’t even try to find a husband. I’m sure if you found the right person—”

Friend: “[Aunt], I’m lesbian; you know that. I’m not attracted to men. Like, at all.”

Aunt: “But you are a woman. It is your God-given duty to marry a man and have children!”

Friend: “At this day and age, that’s just nonsense.”

Aunt: “Don’t you want to start a family and have children?” 

Friend: “At some point, I might.”

Aunt: *Triumphantly* “Well, how can you have children if you don’t have a husband? Don’t tell me you’re thinking about going to a sperm bank. That’s gross and unnatural.”

Friend: “If I decide to have children, I’ll adopt.”

Aunt: “Adopt? Why?”

Friend: “There are enough children out there who don’t have parents. I don’t need to make more. Besides, if I adopt an older child, I don’t need to bother with not being able to sleep at night and having to change diapers all the time.”

Aunt: “But adopted children often have… issues.”

My friend takes a moment to understand what she means and process the statement.

Friend: “[Aunt], I have ADD and PTSD, I was born with diabetes, and I’m allergic to half of the things on the planet! I’d say I have more issues than most orphans, and I’m home-grown.”

Her aunt didn’t say anything after that. But from what I’m told, that wasn’t the first or last time she brought that up.

To clarify, my friend’s PTSD comes from her home burning down when she was little. She never fully got over it and is still very afraid of fire.

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Better Autistic Than Dead From Polio!

, , , , , , , | Related | July 23, 2020

My aunt refused to vaccinate her six kids because of fear of autism. She never changes her beliefs, no matter what evidence appears against it.

Although she didn’t vaccinate any of her kids, kid number five has autism anyway.

Shockingly, she not only continued claiming that vaccines cause autism, but she also began insisting that she actually did vaccinate her fifth child. My mom — her sister — tried to explain that it didn’t make sense that she vaccinated the fifth child but not the first four or the sixth one, and that until the fifth child was diagnosed with autism, she always said that she would never vaccinate any of her kids.

Unfortunately, nothing she said worked.

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