This is a repost of one of my favorite posts about my eccentric family. I posted it when my blog was new, so many of my readers haven’t seen it. Enjoy! If you’ve read it, please be patient.
When you are dealing with family, it clarifies things to have a scale. You don’t have to waste time analyzing people when you have a ready reference. This one works pretty well for my family.
1.Has a monogrammed straight jacket and standing reservation on mental ward.
2.Family is likely to move away without leaving forwarding address. Has jail time in the past or the future
3.People say, “Oh, crap. Here comes Johnny.”
4.Person can go either way. Gets by on a good day. Never has been arrested. Can be lots of fun or a real mess. Relatives usually will invite in for coffee. Likely to have hormone-induced behavior.
5.Regular guy. Holds down a job. Mostly takes care of business. Probably not a serial marrier. Attends church when he has to.
6.Good fellow. Almost everybody likes him or her. Volunteers for Habitat for Humanity. Manages money well enough to retire early.
7.High achiever. Business is in order. Serves on city council.
8.Looks too good to be true. What’s really going on?
9.Over-achiever. Affairs are in order. Solid citizen. Dull, dull, dull. Could end up as a 1
Instead of saying, “Uncle Henry’s a pretty good guy, but sometimes he goes off the deep end, you could say, ‘He’s a usually about a 6 but he was a little 4-ish after Aunt Lou took his new truck and ran off with his brother’.” Or…
“Why in the world did Betty marry him? He was a jerk to her when she was married to his daddy.”
“Well, you know she’s a 5.”
“Oh, yeah. I forgot about that.” Or…
“You set the house on fire trying to dry your underwear in the oven?? What in the hell were you thinking?? And you call yourself a 6?”
“Look, you know darn well I’m a 6. It just seemed like a good idea. Appliances should be multifunctional. I’ve seen you pull a 2 lot of times and never threw it up to you. It could happen to anyone.” Or…
“You forgot and put the turnip greens through the spin cycle and now the washing machine drain is stopped up! I’m not even going to ask you what turnip greens were doing in the washing machine! You’re a 2 if I ever saw one. Your mama and sisters are 2′s, too!! Did you put the beans in the dishwasher, too, while you were at it?”
“No, I’m not an idiot. You cook beans on the stove. I put my rolls in the dishwasher to rise.”
Our family reunions are an eclectic mix of mostly 5′s who can tip into categories 4 and 6 when pressed. Most are fairly regular folks, seasoned with a picante’ dash of street-corner preachers, nude airport racers, and folks who are just interesting in general. We have a couple of 7′s thrown in, reminders of what we could do if we tried. A person’s position on the social ladder is likely to be greatly influenced by his company or partner. For instance, if a submissive #5 marries a dominant #7, it is likely he or she will benefit. If the lower number Is dominant, not so much.
I was comfortable growing up in this eccentric milieu in the 1950’s. While I gave lip service to my parents’ goal of strict respectability, I enjoyed a ringside seat to periodic lunacy. It also justified my lapses. It ran it the family! And no matter how disappointed my parents might be when I messed up, at least I hadn’t been caught naked in traffic yet.
When considering parenthood, most people entertain hormone-tinged delusions, imagining their children as cute, well-behaved, athletic, and smart. We gaze fondly at our partners imagining a baby with his blue eyes, her sweet smile when’s we should have looked a little closer at Grandpa’s buck teeth or Grandma’s frizzy hair. Even better, this baby is just as likely to inherit genes from a great-great grandpa, the horse thief, as from Grandpa John, the Pulitzer Prize Winner. The baby might look a lot more like Aunt Fanny, the lady wrestler, than its pretty mama. A better plan would probably be to put all babies in a lottery at birth, so parents could credit their lumps to bad luck and the joys to good parenting for the next twenty-one years. The kids would definitely appreciate it.
(to be continued)