December 20, 2004

Merry Christmas

Saturday evening, I had the opportunity to endure the 2004 version of "My Girlfriend's Family Christmas." This was my third Christmas observance with her family clan, and this year was, by far, the most surreal.

Something you must understand about Melissa's family: they're all weird. As a single entity, each family member is a societal oddity. Together, the family is, quite possibly, the strangest family unit in the universe. This year, the cast of characters included (names changed, just in case one of them actually finds this blog) (and keep in mind that this is all true--I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried:

Paul, the father: Paul is a 50-something man who realized, about 15 years ago, that he was, in fact, gay. This, not surprisingly, put a bit of a strain on his marriage, what with the preference for other men rather than his wife and all. In addition to being gay, Paul is also one of the most self-centered gay men in the gay community.

With one daughter struggling to make her way through college, and another daughter struggling to feed and house her family, Paul spends most of his time and money buying things for himself. Expensive things. For example, he recently bought a $3,800 watch to act as a replacement for his $5,000+ watch, which, naturally, he had to send to Switzerland for a new battery.

Paul spends most of his weekends staying in hotels up in the Cities, trolling the local gay hangouts for his next temporary boyfriend. His last boyfriend, Jared, ended up stalking Paul, even after a restraining order had been placed on him.

Paul believes Christmas to be his one chance out of the year to buy his daughters' continue love, with only moderate, if any, success.

Mary, the mother: Mary is about as strict a Lutheran as they come, the product of a farm family upbringing that keeps her from ever even thinking of eating anything other than meat and potatoes. Her favorite restaurants are Applebees and TGI Fridays.

Mary's basically incapable of independent thought other than what she was taught as a child, which was basically the Bible. A diminutive, soft-spoken, almost-invisible member of human society, Mary is almost incapable of doing anything on her own. Her life philosophy is: not only should you not rock the boat, the boat should be 300 yards from water at all times.

She recently ordered a treadmill from Sears, only to discover that it was broken. Rather than call Sears and demand an entirely new treadmill, Mary was prepared to wait a month for repair parts to arrive, and perhaps longer for a repairman to arrive after that. When Melissa and I told her that we would personally take it upon ourselves to call Sears and demand a new treadmill, Mary responded "Oh, I don't want to be a bother." Well, Melissa wanted to be a bother, and one phone call later, Mary had a new treadmill delivered.

Given her strict religious background, the revelation that her husband was, in fact, gay, augmented by the discovery of male thong underwear that wasn't Paul's in the driveway one morning, it all just didn't compute in Mary's mind. It didn't help that most of Mary's family continually told Mary that Paul's homosexuality must in some way be her fault, and that she should have tried to be a better wife. This, naturally, failed to boost Mary's self-esteem in any way.

Mary fell into a deep depression during the divorce and aftermath. Raising her three daughters took a backseat to locking herself in her room and crying. The daughters, ever the consoling offspring, often opted to laugh at their mother who, in turn, would threaten to kill them in any number of violent ways, with her favorite taunt being, according to Melissa, "I should have left you all in a dumpster to die!" Melissa's sister, Janelle, who would eventually join the Army, was reportedly immune to the drill sergeants' attempts to get her to break down, saying later that her mother had verbally hit her with far worse things while she was growing up.

Katie, the youngest sister: Katie was about seven years old when her parents got divorced, followed by her mother's detachment and collapse into depression. Melissa, who was 14 at the time, and Janelle, who was 12, were more equipped to deal with the divorce and aftermath, whereas Katie was forced to scrape together whatever love and affirmation where and when she could.

The end result, today, is a young woman with a self-esteem somewhere just above non-existent and social skills that are so bad, she can annoy just about anybody within 20 seconds or less. She's addicted to fantasy novels and Japanese anime, and she has no concept of financial responsibility, probably in credit card debt to the tune of several thousand dollars.

AmyLynne, Katie's roommate: There's a very strange dynamic between Katie and AmyLynne. AmyLynne is just as, if not more, annoying than Katie, with a loud laugh which she ejaculates after she says just about anything. She could be talking about a funeral, and she'd find a way to laugh inappropriately at the end. She's not particularly pleasant to look at, for more than just a few reasons.

The general consensus one would reach if one were to spend 30 minutes with Katie and AmyLynne is that they're a couple. AmyLynne talks, loudly, about how she and Katie did this, or how she and Katie don't like that. When talking with AmyLynne, there is no "AmyLynne-singular;" it's invariably "Katie and I."

Katie seems genuinely oblivious to the possessive language AmyLynne uses when speaking about the two of them. It's like they're in a serious relationship, with one partner totally unaware that they're even a couple. One might classify their situation as "Lesbian Lite."

Denise, the stranger: Denise was a surprise attendee this year, a college student and childhood friend of Katie who is staying with Katie and AmyLynne during the Christmas break. I know little of Denise, beyond the fact her father killed himself when she was ten, and she has subsequent bouts of depression where she contemplates suicide herself. Oh, and she bears a striking resemblance to Moaning Myrtle:


Myself and Melissa: Read also, this blog.

So, there's your cast of characters for the evening, which was held in Katie's small apartment. The evening started out with Paul asking Melissa and I to go down to his truck and bring up the presents. The presents included two huge tower-like gifts which I could tell, judging by the sound they made, included some sort of refridgeration device. They were extremely heavy, and I was none too pleased to carry them up three flights of stairs.

Most of the first hour of conversation was filled with AmyLynne talking and laughing about how Katie did this, or Katie does that, or how Katie and her went here or there. For her part, Katie was in the kitchen, cooking, including preparing, roughly, 800 Pillsbury crescent rolls, which were all solidly burnt on the bottom.

Following a dinner that can only be described as "mildly digestable," we settled in to open presents. I don't typically get anything too fancy during these exchanges, although I was pleasantly surprised to get a $20 Best Buy gift certificate.

From Melissa I received a cute little "Do It Yourself" snowman kit, which consisted of black pieces of plastic for eyes, buttons and mouth, a pipe, and a plastic carrot with a stick on one end.

In one of those moments you wish you could just capture on five seconds of video, Paul noticed me looking at the plastic carrot snowman nose and said the following:

"What's that? It looks like a butt plug!"

What followed was the kind of silence you'd normally expect to hear after being buried in an avalanche. On the one hand, what Paul said was pretty damned funny. On the other hand, because two of his daughters where in the room, daughters who don't particularly like to be reminded about their father's sexual pastimes, I didn't quite know what to say, if anything.

"DAD!" blurted Katie. "That's. . . just. . . DON'T!"

"What?!" responded Paul, laughing, and eventually everyone chimed in with an uneasy laughter, although I suspect Mary laughed while not entirely knowing what a butt plug actually is, or why you would put one on a snowman.

The grand gift finale was the opening of the two large tower-like presents from Paul to Katie and Melissa. Because they were quite obviously the same item, the girls unwrapped them at the same time.

And what so you suppose Paul had bought his daughters this year? What grand gift did he bestow upon his two cash-strapped offspring? What entirely useful and practical item did he feel his two children could make considerable use of? Why, one of these, of course!


Keep in mind here: this wondrous device didn't even come with a bottle, and you have to send away for the first free filter, with all subsequent filters costing "only about 15 cents per gallon." It's just what everybody needs! Oh, wait, no it's not.

So, how did this wondrously magic evening conclude? Well, there I was, camera in hand, tasked with taking a picture of Paul, Mary, Katie and Melissa, all seated on a couch, all of them looking to be experiencing different levels of discomfort.

And how did I, masterful photographer that I am, get everyone to smile? What amazingly witty thing did I manage to say to get this very strange family to look like a normal, happy family?

"Okay, everyone. . . say. . . BUTT PLUG!"

To alleviate the weirdness, here's Allison Stokke. Allison Stokke. Allison Stokke. Allison Stokke. Allison Stokke. Allison Stokke. Allison Stokke. Allison Stokke. Allison Stokke. Allison Stokke.

Posted by Ryan at December 20, 2004 03:36 PM

...while not entirely knowing what a butt plug actually is, or why you would put one on a snowman.

This was my favorite part.

Posted by: Joshua at December 20, 2004 05:20 PM

It's a toss up between that and Ok, now everyone say, "Butt Plug"...........that tickled me too!
And I thought my family put the funk in dysfunctional, lol, you gotta love em.

Posted by: Donna at December 20, 2004 10:44 PM

You're just trying to make us all feel better before we head to our families... aren't you? :-)

Posted by: Beth at December 20, 2004 11:32 PM

Wow. If that's what he was doing, it worked; I've decided to reclassify my upbringing from "normal" to "aggressively normal."

Posted by: Steve Gigl at December 21, 2004 09:22 AM

Gah! I'M not even THAT gay.

Posted by: Lily at December 21, 2004 11:37 AM

Yikes. Sounds like you could have a better time being stuffed in a sack of rabid cats and then dunked in a cold river once or twice.

This was funny and more than just a little depressing. There is a reason why suicides go up during the holidays isn't there?

Posted by: Johnny Huh? at December 21, 2004 06:47 PM

Hi, I found your site when i was searching for information on what damage you can do to your teeth when chewing ice. My teenage son won't listen to me when i persistently tell him not to do it or he'll damage his beautiful teeth that we've paid dearly to perfect. Anyway, my search engine took me to one of your posts about your co-worker who annoys you when she chews ice and other stuff. I've got to say, i was cracking up reading it. Your site got saved on my comp and so i thought i'd visit, hope you don't mind. So once again, thank you for making me laugh with this post, i needed that. I like your sense of humor that takes me by surprise. Thanks for the laughter..

Posted by: Yve at December 22, 2004 01:15 PM

Fucking... A.

Here's to hoping your gf made it worth your while for attending.

Posted by: Rick at December 22, 2004 01:46 PM

oh dear. i really should not have laughed out loud that loud at work, and i did almost spew coffee out my nose.

if i were visiting my family, as dysfunctional as they are, i'm *pretty* sure no one would ever use the word "butt plug", but you never know. thanks for sharing - i sent it around to lots of people who i'm sure will enjoy the laugh and well as the perspective check.

it's all fodder, you know? consider yourself lucky for the constant inspiration. ;)

Posted by: leblanc at December 23, 2004 01:28 PM

You're just trying to make us all feel better before we head to our families... aren't you? :-)

If that's what he was up to with this post, he succeeded. Good God almighty. I can't decide whether my favorite bit is the snowman-nose/butt-plug incident, or the crescent-roll-burning daughter who seems unaware that she is one-half of a lesbian couple.

Posted by: ilyka at December 24, 2004 03:35 PM

Good Point. Anyways, this was where i met her. You can join for free as well

Posted by: click here at March 12, 2005 03:39 AM
Post a comment

Remember personal info?

StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble It!