Tuesday, 14 August 2012


EXPLAINER: Now that I blog, my entire family goes into panic mode when the camera comes out.  Hence the squares over my loved ones' faces. My own face, I leave unsullied ... until someone begs me to cover that, too.

Most of us like to believe that we are individuals. That we have forged our own path, made ourselves who we are today.
That's a lovely thought. Unfortunately, it's about as correct as believing that Paul Ryan is going to be the next president of the United States.
People, listen to me and listen to me good: You are an apple. Your family is a tree. You can fall from it, you can even try to roll away, but you won't get far.
And it just takes a family gathering to prove this unalterable cosmic truth. 

Yesterday, for example, we gathered to celebrate mom's big big BIG birthday. 
(I won't tell you the number, but I will say the waitress developed an immediate and painful RSI from lighting all the candles. We may very well be sued.)
The guests included: Mom, her sister, my daughters, their husbands and kids, my youngest brother Pat and me. My betrothed, Ryan Gosling, was also supposed to be there but cancelled at the last minute on account of he has never heard of any of us.
Even without Ryan, it was a potent combination of personalities. So it wasn't long before the polite pleasantries gave way to "zingers."

Example 1: When I posed for a photo with Mom and my aunt, my aunt said, "The Three Stooges!" at the exact moment the shutter clicked.

Example 2: When the servers brought in the cake and performed the public shaming ..."I don't know but I've been told; Someone here is gettin' old!"...delivered in a flurry of clapping, Mom clapped along and smiled and blew out the candles. The second the singing servers left, she muttered to my firstborn: "I couldn't make out a word they were saying."
Firstborn (without missing a beat): "That's cuz you're old!"

Example 3: My daughter is married to a computer whiz. When I told her I'd be coming down next weekend to "pick his brain,"  she tossed back, "That won't take long."

Is this normal? It is to us. I see other family members sending hearts to each other on facebook and saying "Loveeeee you so much!!!" And I think that's sweet. 
But if my mom ever said that to me I would instantly suspect she'd been doing Whip-Its. 
In my family, if you love someone, you lob a "leftie" at them. You show affection by being cheeky. You show caring by reminding each other, when needed, that if we ever get to thinking we're hot stuff, someone will be there to bring our feet (and big head) back to the ground. 
It sounds crazy, but it's what we do and who we are.
Isn't that right, Auntie Stooge?