Monday, December 7, 2015

Culture Corner 12.7.15

I was originally planning on talking about Alex's open mic at Harry O's last Friday, because it was awesome and all of you should try and make it in the future! It was relaxed and fun with a great mix of performers, mostly musicians.

But my family's three ring circus of madness eclipsed everything else that happened last week. I should have expected this. My entire lifetime somehow hasn't yet prepared me for this constant fact of reality. I love them, but my god.

Brief bit of background: my mom's side of the family is pretty big. My mother herself is the oldest of seven kids. While this isn't so different from my dad's family, where he's the youngest of five, on my dad's side only he and one of my aunts decided to have kids, so holidays with them is a much more relaxed affair. Meanwhile on my mom's side, everyone has two kids minimum or they're pretty much barred entry to my grandparents' house. I'm the third oldest of 19 total cousins, one of whom isn't born yet. I've held so many babies. So many.

The word that best captures most of this branch of my family tree is "shenanigans," because saying "constant near-disasters" is considered rude. The success snatched from the jaws of failure this weekend was a double surprise party. Because those always end well when you're organizing dozens of people. The first party was to commemorate my grandparents' 50th wedding anniversary, and the main surprise was pulling in all my mom's siblings who live afar and hardly ever come home - family members from Texas, North Carolina, and Virginia. Of course, it involved a wild hurricane of elaborate lies.

See, the trick was that my grandparents knew the relatives in Texas - my mom's brother, his wife, and their three kids - were coming; the entire party was planned around the fact that, "Hey, Tim's finally home. LET'S GET EVERYBODY TOGETHER." I had my calendar cleared months in advance. So then the longest trial was making up excuses to be busy that weekend and maintain the surprise. My mother insisted she couldn't possibly skip work to visit. My aunt pretended she was really preparing for a surprise baby shower for my other aunt to excuse all her party planning to my grandma. The funny thing is that the surprise baby shower was not a decoy event, but was, in fact, the second surprise party planned for this weekend. There were multiple secret Facebook groups and chats that various people were juggling in order to get all the planets in line.

Hey, I wasn't exaggerating when I said "three-ring circus."

I was sure someone would let something slip. I was positive this surprise - either of them! - couldn't be maintained. I knew, in my heart, that my family of busybodies and chatterboxes couldn't keep something like this to themselves. But they did. We all stood in a tiny rented party hall decorated with plastic golden wedding bells and streamers and we surprised them. Mission accomplished.

In light of that it really doesn't matter that during the party set-up everyone kept meddling with the decorations to the point of insanity, that whoever's iPod was plugged into the sound system exclusively played the Beatles' entire discography and nothing else for three hours, that my baby cousin projectile vomited onto the floor (twice!), or that the fire alarm got tripped by mistake (my bad). But as my sister said, "Well, we had the disaster already. We're in the clear now." And that's how it is with family, really. Something's bound to go wrong and you're ready for it. The anticipation of waiting for it to happen is almost worse than fixing the problem when the time comes. Almost.

More importantly, you get to meet your little cousins who you have never physically seen before, considering they live in Texas. The conversation was brief; I told him who I was and we shook hands. He looked at me like I was an alien. I asked how old he was - he's five - and told him I was 21, and he fixed me with an even odder look, as if being that old was some feat of the bizarre. And then he fled the room without another word.

Ah, family.


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