According to myth, thousands of years ago a celestial being was born to a virgin in a barn. That kid grew up and was allegedly nailed to a tree, all to save even the sorriest of us from eternal damnation.
It only seems natural that we celebrate this occasion with bouts of gluttony, overt-coveting, and the misconstrued idea that we are the only ones who matter. This behavior could be called the “Uncle Keith Hat Trick”.
As the family was gathered around the table eating plate after plate of condensed-soup-based dishes, Uncle Keith sat at the head washing down his turkey leg every other bite with sloshing swigs of Milwaukee’s Best. It was like every movie you see about Camelot or just the Medieval times in general. The King would always be eating what looked to be the meat from an entire hog all the while chugging wine from a gallon sized chalice. This is what Keith reminded me of, yet I’m not sure his potential for sovereign power. Keith could barely keep the zipper on his pants in check so I’m not sure I’d trust him with the monetary needs of an entire country.
“Who the hell made this Pineapple bullshit?”, Uncle Keith said with bits of cracker escaping his mouth between syllables. “It’s Pineapple casserole, Keith. Carol did.”, Cousin Douglas piped up without even looking up from his plate. “Well hell it aint bad, I just thought it was squash. You Know how when ya think something is Coca-Cola but turns out its sweet tea? Well hell I like Sweet tea but not if I think it’s a god dern flat Coke Cola!”. Keith certainly had a way with words.
Aunt Joyce sat in silence and fought back the urge to confront the crowd as to why they hadn’t tried any of her Pink Stuff. ” I make it every year”. she thought to herself. “Have they always hated it and this is just the year that they have collectively decided not to fake it anymore? Is there a hair in it? Am I going crazy?”. Aunt Joyce was undoubtedly the most neurotic person I have met in my entire life and I have no doubt that that is where I get it from. Given, Joyce’s can be explained by the mishaps in her life probably more-so than it can be chalked up to genetics, but I spent a lot of time with her in the beauty shops growing up and what with the “Nature vs. Nurture” debate, nurture whooped ass in this one as far as it concerned me.
Joyce had always been the type of person who relied on the staunch approval of others to validate nearly every move she made. I believe with my whole heart that the reason she is so involved in the church is simply to qualify for the Yard of The Year Program that they have every year to recognize..well, the best yard that particular year. She never seemed to pay attention to the service much (as was made evident by her contradicting behavior shortly there after) but she certainly always had on her Sunday best dress and a big ass hat to match it. If you aren’t familiar with a Sunday service in the south, particularly at a Baptist church.. a lot of the women wear big ass hats. Im not sure if it is still the case as I haven’t been to a service in about ten years, but they certainly did when I was a kid. It was a Kentucky Derby style fashion statement and the women were proud as can be of them. So proud that they didn’t take them off during prayer. That always seemed odd to me because not only were men damn sure not supposed to wear a hat inside of the church, they especially wouldn’t be able to keep it on during the prayer. Hell, that was a rule outside of the church. However it is perfectly acceptable for the women to wear hats at all times. It doesn’t interfere with their worship like it does men for some reason. That reason by the way is that religion (all religion) is a crock of shit. Write that down, kids.
“Is there a reason no one has had any of the pink stuff?” Joyce asked the table. Silence fell over the crowd because everyone was accustomed to the egg shells they had to walk on in front of Joyce at this point.” No Joyce, I was just saving it for dessert. You know I prefer your pink stuff to a piece of pie any day” Granny Margret chimed in. Joyce gave a nervous grin. “Well, you say that but it seems a bit curious to me that not a soul has touched it.”.
“Yeah, I can’t believe people aren’t standing in line to get cherry flavored Cool-Whip. How could they have their plates filled with actual food when your Jello Box recipe from 1965 is sitting their ripe for the picking!” Uncle Keith drunkenly slurred.
Tears began to well up in Aunt Joyce’s eyes as she tried to grin through the insult. Keith kept eating as if nothing had happened and everyone else at the table exchanged glances with each other as a way to express that they were all on the same page of how awkward it had become. I was doing my best to mind my own business because this is how it happens every year with me and Keith. He jaws off on some bullshit, I get in his ass and call him out for being the backwards, misogynistic, misinformed jackass that he is, and then he informs me that I’m just a kid that doesn’t know shit from Shinola. He will go on a rant concluding with the famous Churchill quote, “If You Are Not a Liberal at 25, You Have No Heart. If You Are Not a Conservative at 35 You Have No Brain”. That’s a fine quote, but when it comes from the lips of someone who hasn’t had the right to vote since 1985 when they were arrested on felony assault charges, you can kind of understand why it chaps my ass.
“Ahh Hell, don’t everyone get their panties in a wad. Joyce is just gonna play the sad sap card to get every one on her side like she does every time.. then I’m the asshole for no damn reason. Don’t get on my ass because I say what I think. Im tired of this politically correct bullshit.” Keith said this as he threw his napkin down and excused himself to go to the bathroom.
Uncle Keith has a very misguided view of what “Political Correctness” means. He views it as an attack on his first amendment rights which he thinks means that he can say whatever he wants, whenever he wants, and no one is allowed to give him shit for it. He’s a special kind of asshole. He’s the type of guy who blames black people for every home robbery regardless of evidence, yet doesn’t hold white pedophiles to the same prejudice. Keith has spent most of his life inside his own bubble and in doing so knows only what he was taught by his father, and what his father taught him. This vicious cycle goes all the way back to his great-great grandfather thinking that it was OK to hit your wife in private if she embarrassed you in public, so you’ve got to understand that this can be a problem for the little dumb liberal that I had become. A dumb liberal raised by an entire family of staunch conservatives. You see, Uncle Keith? A man can make up his own mind if he wants to.
Aunt Joyce began to visibly weep as soon as Uncle Keith left the table. “Its alright, Joyce. You know he’s just a bitter old cuss. He don’t mean nothing by it.” Uncle Ernest said.
Through tears Aunt Joyce responded, ” Every year. Every year that man has something to say. He uses me like a punching bag because he is too miserable for his own good. He has to knock me down to make himself feel better, and I am just sick of it!”
“Well there ya go, Joyce, you get it then. He aint worth getting upset over. Hell, we will all get up and get a helping of your dessert.. won’t we y’all?” Ernest said to the crowd. Every one agreed in unison and began to get up from the table. Joyce wiped a tear from her face, ” Now ya’ll don’t put me on now on account of Keith.. I know it aint the best in the world and I ourt not be so sensitive about it. I’ve just had a bad day”.
I couldn’t let Joyce think that so I got a huge portion and swallowed it down in a few bites. ” I’ll be honest Aunt Joyce, I didn’t see it at first.. had I known it was there I wouldn’t have even gotten any Sweet Potatoes!”
I shouldn’t have said that because my mother made the sweet potatoes, but she knew what I was doing so it was ok. ” Don’t let that asshole get you in a bad mood. He wants to act like you play the sad sap card? That’s rich coming from someone who hasn’t worked in 20 years and wants to claim unemployment from a bad back we all know is bullshit. He wants to sit there not doing shit while being the moral majority for lazy people in this country? He votes republican because he’s against queers getting married even though their legislature goes directly against someone on welfare and below the poverty line such as his sorry ass. Im sorry for cursing at the dinner table but he’s just an ignorant piece of shit.”
I don’t wish for a lot of things. I’ve got a good dog, a nice piece of land, a family that loves me, and I do well enough to afford all the sports packages on cable. But one thing I do wish is that I had known Uncle Keith could hear me from the Kitchen…
To be continued.