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Making Light Of The Lighter Fluid Flavor

, , , , , | Related | January 2, 2019

At a family gathering celebrating Independence Day, my uncles were tasked with the preparation of the hot dogs, burgers, and sausages. As the meats cooked, my uncles grew increasingly impatient and intoxicated and began attempting to speed up the cooking process.

Their solutions included adding more charcoal, more lighter fluid — while the food was cooking — moving the grill into more direct sunlight, and ultimately attaching a vacuum to the grill in an effort to increase the airflow.

Their efforts produced a lot of smoke that drifted through open windows into my grandparents’ house, where my ill grandmother was spending the party. Naturally, she came to the kitchen window to yell at my uncles and complain about the smoke. My dad found himself enlisted by his brothers to help cook the meats, a role he carried out with a constant bemused look and sarcastic commentary.

After the standard duration meats take to cook on a grill, the food was served. It was sufficiently burned with an adequate taste of lighter fluid. I had a salad that was prepared on the other side of the backyard, far away from the grill.

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The Man From Uncle

, , , | Related | July 28, 2018

(My mother’s side of the family is having our first big reunion in years. In many East Asian cultures, you don’t call older relatives by name; there are specific titles for specific relationships.)

Cousin: *talking about mum’s older brother* “Because I’m half white and all American, I didn’t realise Tua Ku’s name wasn’t Tua Ku until I was, like, eighteen…”

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Reunion Confusion

, , , , , , , | Related | July 24, 2018

My family had a reunion back in the days before cars came with GPS and before cell phones were common. My aunt went out as far through the family tree as she could, with instructions to forward the information and invitation to anyone that she may have missed, so we had over a hundred people at the event.

Because not everyone had been to my aunt’s house before, and no one had GPS in their cars, she and her husband put massive signs reading “[Family Name] Family Reunion” with arrows throughout her town, from pretty much as soon as you get off the highway.

My great-uncle is obsessed with the family tree, and tried to sit down with everyone to get as much information as he could from each person, so he could work on completing it. He’d been sitting with one man for nearly twenty minutes, before suddenly bursting out laughing. The man and his son came to the wrong family reunion.

Apparently, they had been on their way to a family reunion for the son’s deceased mother’s side of the family. The last name was phonetically similar to our family’s — although spelled slightly differently — and the man hadn’t been close with his wife’s family, so he didn’t realize that the reason he didn’t recognize anyone was because there was no one there to recognize.

The man was very embarrassed about the mistake, but he and his son were so friendly that we invited them to stay the rest of the day, as well. They couldn’t, since they wanted to keep going to their proper reunion, but we’ve kept in touch with them to this day, and still call them honorary family members.

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Getting The COLA Means You Can Afford More Cola

, , , , | Related | June 11, 2018

(My mother, some relatives, and I are having a discussion at a family gathering. My mother, a retired state employee now living out of state, is questioning us about the status in the state legislature of a bill increasing her pension to compensate for the increased cost of living. In jest, she pounds on the table and demands her increase. Next thing we know, another relative, not part of the discussion, puts a drink in front of her.)

Mother: “What’s this?”

Relative: “The coke you were demanding.”

(My mother and I burst out laughing. Our discussion had used the acronym for Cost Of Living Adjustment: COLA!)

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The Little Voice Has Little Voices

, , , | Related | August 14, 2017

(A nephew’s wedding is the occasion for my large and noisy family to trot out several favorite stories. Several of them involve my youngest brother, an adrenalin junkie with poor decision-making skills. At the end of a long and complicated story about him, three dogs, and a skunk, one of my nieces is shaking her head in disbelief.)

Me: “It’s true. You know that little voice that we all have in the back of our brain; the one that tells you not to do dumb stuff like stick a fork in the wall socket?”

Niece: “Are you saying Uncle [Youngest Brother] doesn’t listen to his little voice?”

Me: “I’m saying his little voice was dropped on its head as a child.”

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