When a fifty year old mother of two pulled her pants down to show me her tattoo, I knew the afternoon was going sideways. The thick, faded cross had been applied with India ink and a needle when she was just thirteen. I was trapped between a kitchen island and a bookshelf full of vegetarian cookbooks with nowhere to go. She was very insistent and kind of drunk.
She was also my aunt.
"I had an open beer in the truck the entire way here", she said. "And I told him". She gestured to my uncle. "But do you think he heard me?" I nodded, trying to feign understanding. "He totally freaked out on me", she exclaimed. I kept nodding. "So, anyway, I think I want another tattoo. It's going to be my Celtic astrological sign", she said, pulling a small pendant with a bunch of squiggles out of her neckline. "I'll have them do it over the old one. He'll never notice." She jerked her head conspiratorily at my uncle. "He doesn't want me to get one!"
I smiled sympathetically. Then I offered her another beer.
This is how I kicked off Christmas with my family. Last Saturday.
My family is not particularly known for being "on time". Our family Christmas party happened so late this year that I think we even missed the Epiphany. In my family, time is a problem that happens to other people. For the physicists in my family, time is a dimension to be "worked around". I'm an atheist and I get particularly aggravated when late holiday observances cut into my weekend drinking. That's all I know.
Christmas was observed at my cousin's new house in Northeast Assfuck, USA. New was a relative term. It'd been owned by others. It showed in the odd avocado colored clapboard siding as well as the worn wide pine flooring. There was an ice covered, stagnant brook that looked like it'd be an excellent breeding ground for mosquitos in the Spring. I bet the realtor humped the "eventual babbling brook" as a selling point. Because malaria itself does not sell.
The trip to the house in Northeast Assfuck was an hour and a half of hard driving from my abode in the city. Getting directions that involved major highways had been a 45 minute chore in itself. Several relatives gave me directions that involved "Follow the road...that is not really a road...under the bridge...there will be a bunch of signs for things...I don't know the name of the actual road...there will be a bunch of mailboxes...oh, and, avoid the troll...that is not really a troll...but bring money..."
Mapquest acknowledged that the town existed. But not the road.
As obscure as the directions we received were, Mr. Scoop and I were the first to arrive. Because my family does not believe in the concept of time.
We made a plan to leave within an hour and a half to two hours. We were in what is generally acknowledged as the incest capital of the state. What happens in Northeast Assfuck, stays in Northeast Assfuck. For several generations. At twilight, the looming shadows would be menacing to unprotected orafices. We wanted to be on the road and headed toward cell phone service that did not include roaming charges.
Mr. Scoop helped matters by proclaiming that the chicken that was served at dinner was the same one that killed his father. Then he broke a beer bottle and brandished it as he backed toward the door. My family wasn't sure what to do with this. The ensuing awkwardness gave us a window for our escape.
I love Mr. Scoop.
Merry Entirely Belated Christmas and Happy Totally Belated New Year!