Tuesday, April 3, 2007
My Cousin Bill is So Going to Get us Fired from the Family
Look closely at the child on the left in this photo. See the look of utter distress and sheer panic on her face? That’s me. That look is because the child on the right, my cousin Bill, has just finished repeatedly bashing me over the head with a hair brush. See the expression on his face? Tells you just about all you need to know about cousin Bill, really.
Okay, I’m being a bit dramatic. Bill actually did grow up to be a much nicer person that this picture implies. So nice in fact, that despite us having spent much of our lives 3,000 miles apart from each other, thirty or so years after the dreaded hairbrush incident we did manage to develop a rather amiable friendship. We discovered that we are very much alike, with similar tastes in music, films, food, and weather. We even share the same politics, making us the only two members of our family as far as we know who tip the scales into libertarian/anarchic. Genetics in action are a mighty freaky thing.
But, not everyone in the family has DNA quite in sync with ours. Yesterday one of our aunties sent us yet another pro-Bush email. She’s been doing this for years. Usually, I just hit the delete button and leave it at that. Yesterday, for some reason, I didn’t. An hour or so later, I received a cc from Bill, who had decided to break his silence on this one with a terse but respectful reply to said auntie, elucidating why missives of this sort got on his every last nerve. Bill can take a lot of flack for his odd-man-out stances, so I decided to lend him some support with a reply of my own.
As we all know, the problem with email communication is that it doesn’t allow for nuance, so it’s often easy to both misunderstand and be misunderstood. Not in this case. What I expected in return from my aunt was a polite note stating that obviously we disagree on this particular subject and she would therefore refrain from sending me these types of correspondence in the future. Which is all I really wanted. What I received instead was quite a hot-headed little diatribe, accusing me of “spewing” garbage just like all the other “academic” nincompoops who are ruining this country. Which prompted me to send her back yet another email again respectfully clarifying my position. Which resulted in her telling me she had nothing further to say to me.
You know, I love my auntie. She’s bright and funny and well-meaning and I wish I saw more of her. About all we do is exchange long letters at the holidays and on occasion call each other up. Which is why I kind of wish I’d just kept my mouth shut. Then again, jeezus, she’s the one who’s been invading my in-box for years with this kind of stuff. Years. And the worst kind of overly simplistic, patriotic, rah-rah tripe that makes me blush to think anyone buys into it, much less my charming, smart, witty auntie.
Which brings me back to Bill. Thirty years later, and the dude is still hitting people over the head. Only at this point, some of them unfortunately do deserve it.