My dad calls me about two weeks ago. “Hey, what are you doing on the 11th?”
“What day is that?”
I think for a moment. “Nothing.”
“You want to go down to West Virginia with me for a family picnic?”
“Don’t do that,” I say.
“Use ‘West Virginia’ and ‘family’ in the same sentence.”
He laughs. “Do you want to go or not?”
I enjoy going to see my family in West Virginia, in particular my Aunt Pat and cousin Johnny. While certainly I get along with my other relatives, I get on with Pat and Johnny splendidly because they don’t get mad at my sarcasm and even roll with it. They are good people.
Saturday came and pops and I rolled on down to the big picnic. My aunt and uncle had managed to score a pavilion at the amazing Lost River State Park (where Robert E. Lee had a cabin! I saw it!) which worked out extremely well due to the brief on and off again rain showers passing through.
My dad was in charge of bringing the soda and chips and I was in charge of bringing myself, but I was damn sorry that I didn’t bring a little notebook to write down the fantastically funny things I heard that day. Things like:
“Do you even own a gun?” — This was said to me by my uncle, and it was said in a mocking tone. I think my reply of, “No, but I support your right to own one,” was smart and safe.
I asked my cousin about the little Direct TV satellite attached to a ginormous satellite last used in 1983, and why they attached the little satellite to the big one, instead of just removing that monstrosity. “That is the West Virginia State Flag. You can’t take that down.” We both laughed at that one.
Or maybe, when talking about food:
“You’ve never had hotdog gravy and pancakes?!?” — My cousin Johnny was a little shocked at my inexperience of such fine cuisine. I explained to him that, no, I’ve never had pancakes with any sort of gravy, much less hotdog gravy. I wasn’t in any sort of hurry to taste that fine delicacy, either. Especially after I learned it’s not even hotdogs in the hotdog gravy, but rather Vienna sausages.
“What about squirrel brain? You ever eat that?” — Again, by cousin Johnny. I told him I have had squirrel stew, but not squirrel brain. He told me I was missing out. I take him on his word.
My uncle referred to Obama as “that black Jesus”, to which I replied, “Up in the big city, we call him the Messiah.” He laughed because I think he thought I was joking. I was. Kinda.
My aunt was telling me how her sister-in-law (my uncle’s brother’s wife, not really related to me) does everything for her husband, including carrying his guns behind him when he hunts. She went on to say that she — my aunt — tells the wife she’s crazy for doing it. She pauses after telling this story, thinks for a second, then says, “Yeah, my brother-in-law doesn’t like me very much.”
“I know why,” I said. “You’re mouthy.”
“You’re mouthy, Pat. You don’t know your role. His wife knows her role. You’re one of those uppity women.”
She looked at me for a beat, then realized I was shining her. “Well he’s an asshole.”
It was really an awesome time. I imagine they are blogging about me and my dad, too. “They have a truck, and it doesn’t even have a gun rack!” “I bet they never even skinned a deer.” That sort of thing. I don’t mind, because we both live in different worlds, and gives us all something to poke fun at the other for. And that’s what family is all about.