“A man with a hump-backed uncle mustn’t make fun of another man’s cross-eyed aunt.” – Mark Twain

One of the most horrifying periods of the entire year is upon us. No, I’m not talking about the Steelers’ stretch run, as blood curdling as that has been in recent years. Nor am I referring to the Christmas advertising season. Speaking of which, how come they only advertise those cork-pulling gizmos at Christmas? The “Houdini” one and the one that looks like a rabbit – wait, are they the same? The Idler knows lots of people who open wine bottles all year round. Some of them all day long. Which reminds me of a suspicion I’ve been harboring for many years: : Some of these gifts they advertise would only be bought by a drunk person. Take the Chia Pet. How smashed do you have to be to think that’s a clever gift idea? The Idler’s mom had an uncle, a lifelong bachelor, who every year would wait until the last possible day to scour the downtown department stores, and then find himself in one of the old Market Square bars empty-handed. In those days there happened to be a greengrocer in Market Square, so every year Uncle Iggy would end up on a streetcar home with a happy glow and a couple of crates of grapefruit at his feet. You know, that’s actually not a bad gift if you have a taste for citrus.


But now that people are shopping online, you have to wonder what the Uncle Iggys of the world are making of it. I mean, if he’s up at 2 AM accessing his Amazon account with a bottle of Olde Mill-whistle (“One Blast and You’re Through For the Night”) in front of him, no one, including Iggy, may know what he’s ordered until the UPS truck pulls up. And what are the chances the negligee is delivered to Aunt Irene at the personal care home, and the HurryCane goes to Iggy’s latest romantic interest. There’s some real comedy potential there.

whiskey xxx

But no, what has the Idler fearful and distraught this time of year are the impending family reunion-type events. These are people you see once a year, max, and you have to memorize their names or you’ll end up in conversations like this:

You:                                   HI! You’re Steve, right?

Wife’s Second Cousin:           Bill

You:                                    Right, of course, Bill, and is this your wife Sharon?

Wife’s Second Cousin:          Cheryl

You:                                    Cheryl, how could I forget. How are the kids?

Wife’s Second Cousin:           We don’t have any.

You:                                    Dog?

Wife’s Second Cousin:           No.

You:                                    Cat?

Wife’s Second Cousin:          Uh-uh.

You:                                    Want a drink, Steve?

Wife’s Second Cousin:           It’s Bill. Desperately.

You:                                    How about an Olde Mill-whistle?

And then you have the aunts who will point out the one family member you have always considered the algae bloom in the family gene pool and tell you how much he resembles you. You think Brad Pitt has a grand nephew who bears some passing facial resemblance to him but sports a mullet, stands 5’ 5” and tips the scale at 325 lb? Personally I feel I’m growing more like Uncle Iggy every year. Hey Steve, here’s your grapefruit!

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