Dear Family, (part 1)

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic


The life of a forty-something assistant professor chronicled through letters sent to his nonplussed family.



This is letter #1 in a series. Will add more if requested.

Submitted: October 02, 2017

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Submitted: October 02, 2017

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Dear Family,

It's been nearly two months since hearing from any of you and coincidently the same amount of time since that botched Christmas reunion. At this point I must assume the two are related, that the small atrocity committed by yours truly has not been entirely forgiven. "Sorry" wouldn't be my style. Instead, I want to address things from my perspective, starting with myself in the bathroom and ending with passing expletives between us in the living room.

I was sitting on the toilet, ankles tangled in my brand new trousers (thanks, Mom, I'm in them now), and hands trembling like Grandma's cranberry sauce. The walls, normally too cramped to lift an elbow, seemed suddenly to expand outward to an infinite distance, and that annoying dim bulb Linda insists on not changing turned nebula bright. It wasn't weed, Tom. This was a gut tugging, dejavu-on-steroids, cosmic sensation. Its passing left me an inner brilliance, manifested in the form of neatly packaged sentences-words so clear to me I could see them floating in the air. Why inspiration chose this inopportune moment I couldn't say, though as to what happened next I blame the wine.

I am in general a tame person. One glass of red wine at dinner. Red meat twice a week. Bed by midnight. Mom, this is why I still haven't gotten tenure. I don't take enough risks. Well, at that moment, I would have done anything to capture those words, which buzzed about me like flies while my stomach whined over Aunt Liz's "famous" chorizo casserole. There was another type of magic happening right beneath me in my seat, and it very unfortunately prevented me from running to the common computer in the living room, where I could hear Liz and Jill playing "Jingle Bells" on the family piano.

Imagine me, Dad, bare-assed on the John, face flushed from Linda's plumb brandy, riding the tumults of two simultaneous explosions, as opposite from one another as splendid heaven and crude hell. Precious words were seeping through my skull and evaporating into oblivion with each passing "ungh." It was like watching a hefty stack of bills burn, bill by bitter bill. My moment was fading.

Worse, the initial business at hand was going nowhere. I was a broken faucet that, after several waning drips, would recompense with a brand new barrage. Was it too many winter pears or perhaps brandy does not mix with Cabernet? In any case, imagine finding out you won the lottery, only to be stuck in prison. It was this sort of predicament I found myself in.

I would not expect a stranger's sympathy for my solution to the problem, but from this family, I must demand at least partial understanding. Tom, do you remember last year's Thanksgiving, when you suggested in front of everyone that my date had, to use your words "just walked out of a bordello?" She was indeed, as you later found out, an escort, but I did not pay her to come and you were unaware of her profession at the time. Or Linda, what about two Christmases ago, when you forgot my present and no one else's? I write these things not to unbury forgotten hatchets, but so as to establish that our family tradition lies on a regular basis of unintentional vulgarities.

No doubt you all remember my latest, especially Grandma, but I want to offer two fecal points from which you might glean some sanity from my actions. Jill, do you remember when little Timmy used to crush cranberries in your garden, strip his shirt, and paint his already rosy cheeks? You used to call him your "little Navajo (I'm assuming you've checked your facts on that one) And Tom, do you remember four summers ago at Lake Minnewaska, a certain hold up at the portable bathrooms, while Jackie (sorry Jackie, I can imagine how much a thirteen year girl would loathe to have this dug up again) dealt with a massive case of the runs, corrupting my beach towel in the process? Dearest family, I propose you view my own crime in some favorable combination of the two. Envision me with the diligence of little Timmy, the bathroom muse whispering seductions in my ear, while my hands worked with the stormy ferocity of the perpetrator responsible for the disaster at Minnewaska.

On to defenses:

One-I had deliberately left my phone and writing pad in the car, so as not to offend any of our more verbose (Jim,Tom, grandma) or attention starved (Jill, Dad, Timmy, Jackie, Linda, Liz) family members. How I was to know inspiration would come knocking at the bathroom door?*

Tim and Jackie, did you know I called out your names several times, in the hopes that you might slide through the door something to pen down my thoughts? Your youth and yet to be squandered minds gives you an advantage over the rest of family when it comes to hearing a pleading man. Alas, you did not come. I was utterly alone.

Two-I suffer from a terrible memory as Jill and Tom, (maybe not Jackie) will be the first to point out. What was biblical then would have been butchered, if not vanished, two minutes later. Jill, remember how you behaved when you lost Timmy at the mall? That was the sort of desperation which influenced my level of problem solving.

Three-What alternatives did I have? As Uncle Jim would soon mention, "why not use the lipstick your sister whores herself around with (his words, Jill, not mine)?" Mom, always the smart one, asked, "why not use the tooth paste?" Well, Mom, tooth paste doesn't spread very well, does it? And Jack, great idea, except lipstick rips through toilet paper, as I found out. Have you ever scrawled with a toothpick in the mud? That works very well, thank you.

Four-In my state of delirium- not drug induced that time, I swear- I was feeling very "live and let live." Nothing natural repelled me. If anything, such machinations as ink, or worse, word processors, seemed false and abhorrent. If anything, I desired to write with my own blood, but I cannot stand even the slightest prick without fainting.

So, family, you do the math. I was bereft of writing utensils. I was out of time. Brimming with words. Stuck on a toilet. There was a toothpick. There was something else, too, in viscous abundance. Doesn't what came next make sense, in some weird, twisted, I'm-one-of-the-quirkier-members-of-this-crazy-family kind of way?

I remember when I crept into the living room, one moment full of music and laughter, the next, deathly silent, my pungent toilet paper scroll-slab draped about one arm. You should have seen the width of your eyes and nostrils. I was OK with that, but the pure and unmasked shame in Mom's and Dad's eyes, that spoke too many volumes. Then there was all that cursing from Tom about not touching his computer and Jill screaming thirty seconds straight (she's quite good at that, isn't she?). And I'm the impulsive one?

Then we have the sardonic Uncle Jim, who crept up behind me while I punched away at the keyboard, probably grinning like a jackass. "My, my,*Miles," he declared. " *I'm sure you have your strokes of brilliance, but this just looks like shit." It is these kind of snide comments, made toward me ever since I was a child that have stunted my development, prevented me from reaching tenure at Williams. And while I do humbly apologize to all those offended, I too will be awaiting yours, Jim.

I do regret what happened at Christmas, as each and every one of you are to me a unique flavor in the desert palette of my life. Jackie-relentless. Timmy-priceless. Jim- hilarious. Jill-expressive. Grandma-gay. Lindsay- unobtrusive-Tom- red. Mom-guileless. Dad-tolerant. Please, I implore each of you to let me know you are well in his or her own way, though, Jim and Tom, I must warn you both that UPS would not find repeating my own offense amusing. Also, I do not intend to share my transcription with any of you until I feel you have deserved it.

Love to all,

Uncle Miles


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