Cinco de Mayo with the family

Dear diary,

I spent Sunday afternoon at the home of my brother Clay and his wife Karen, with my brother Dick and his wife Young-sook, and with Leon, who's a lifelong friend to me and both my brothers. The six of us shared lunch, then watched a ball game, sort of, and a movie, sort of, and our time together was mostly OK.

But me being me, I have a few complaints.

First, as I've said probably every time I've gone to Clay & Karen's house, I will never understand why they choose to live so far from civilization. In a metroplex of about 4-million people, I can get very nearly anyplace on public transit, but their home is in an isolated patch of the next county south, miles from any bus access.

Since I don't drive, I need a ride to get to Clay & Karen's house. This puts my arrival and especially my departure at the mercy of others, and I hate that. Their house is the only place I go, where I can't arrive and depart when I wish.

This is why I limit my visits to twice yearly.

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As usual, my ride was with Leon, and I chipped in for gas. Our routine is, I take a half-hour bus ride from my house to the shopping mall, where Leon picks me up for the drive to Clay's house, which takes an hour if traffic is light.

Today, traffic sucked on the way home, so the totals are: We spent seven hours at Clay & Karen's house, plus three and a half hours in traffic. Factor in a fifteen minute walk to and from the bus stop, and it was an eleven hour day.

And for all of it except the bus ride, I had to be 'on' and chatty. The last time I was 'on' and chatty for so long was the previous time I'd visited my brother's house.

This is another reason I limit my visits to twice yearly. 

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At their home, Karen served a lovely Cinco de Mayo spread — your choice of tortillas or burritos, with a counter full of options for fillings. I ate two excellent burritos, and also pigged out on store-bought sliced veggies and dip.

The veggies and dip tasted fine, but were leftovers from a few days earlier, perhaps past their prime. After the beany burritos and aged vegetables I spent the fifth and again the seventh inning of the baseball game passing two explosive poops in the bathroom.

Which is right off the living room. Nobody said anything, but I'm sure the whole family could hear every squirt of pressurized liquid from my anus.

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The baseball game was fine, and our local team won, 5-4 — yippee, the Mariners are still in first place.

But despite being played a thousand miles away, the game was blacked out for local television. We 'watched' by following text reports on screen, pitch by pitch, as the game progressed. Basically, we read the ball game instead of watching it.

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After the game, came the movie. All of us like baseball, so I'd suggested a rewatch of The Rookie (2002), a pleasant enough movie about a 30-something school teacher who gets a very late-in-life shot at playing major league baseball.

Clay & Karen instead suggested Rookie of the Year (1993), which is also a baseball movie, and they promised it was great. I hadn't seen or even heard of it, so that's what we watched, and OMG it's stupid.

It's about a 12-year-old boy who breaks his arm, and when it heals he can inexplicably throw 100-mph fastballs, so he's signed to play for the Chicago Cubs. 

The movie doesn't even know baseball. First, nobody under the age of 17 is allowed in the major leagues. The 12-year-old doesn't begin in the minors, nor does he even practice with the team before his first day in pro baseball, when he's the relief pitcher in a game against the New York Mets.

On and on I could go, but I'd rather let the movie rinse itself from my memory.

To be fair, Rookie of the Year is aimed at 6-year-olds, and when it came out in '93, Clay & Karen's two sons were about that age. I'm sure the kids loved it, and it's a happy memory for their parents, but no adult should be subjected to it without children in the room and a good book to read instead of watching the movie.

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Clay asked how my job hunt is going, and I answered truthfully that I'll be homeless at the end of May. Everyone laughed, and laughed again when I added, "No, seriously."

Other than that, the conversation with Clay and Karen and Leon was shallow and innocuous, but pleasant.

As was the conversation with Dick, but Dick is loud. I've asked him many times to speak more quietly, and any time we're at breakfast together, someone or everyone at the table asks the same.

It's something I don't understand about the guy — if people told me twice that I was too loud, I would lower my voice, probably forever. Dick never does. Today he sat beside me on the couch in Clay's living room, and everything he said was loud.

Clay, Karen, and Leon asked him to lower his voice, and he did, but only for a moment before growing loud again. I didn't even ask. He gave me a headache, but I've given up pleading with him about the volume.

Dick is also the most outspoken right-winger in the family, and today he repeatedly attempted steering the conversation into politics. Though we've never planned or coordinated a response to this, everyone else in the room ignored and/or interrupted him each time he tried telling us about yesterday's episode of Huckabee, a political talk show I'd never heard of, starring Mike Huckabee, the eminently hate-able former Governor of Arkansas.

Dick's wife, Young-sook, speaks about a dozen words of English, and spoke them all, and Dick can only speak about the same number of words in Korean, which is her only language. Their marriage remains a mystery to everyone in the family, and I try (and fail) not to judge.

When she's bored at family events like this, she always wanders off — and how could she not be bored, when we're all talking in a language she doesn't know? So she wandered off, and when Dick decided they'd be the first to leave, he had to walk the neighborhood half an hour looking for her.

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After a few thank yous and hugs goodbye, Leon and I got into his car and headed back to Seattle, but here's one last complaint:

The passenger seat belt in Leon's car is kinda broken, so it sometimes comes unbuckled when we ride over a bump. Being paranoid of splattering in a wreck, I never ride unbuckled, so all the way south, and then all the way north, I held on to the buckle to ensure it wouldn't unbuckle.

And I don't mind doing this. Been doing it for years, whenever I'm in Leon's car.

The buckle is on the left side of the seat, but for reasons unknown, today I held it with my right hand, stretched across my chest, coming and going for an hour each way. This has left me with an aching chest in the evening. At least, that's my only theory for why my chest aches.

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And that's my Cinco de Mayo, 2024. I gave my family the entire day, I'm exhausted, my chest hurts, I still have a Dick headache from his loud talking, and I'd like to speak with no-one, please, until at least Wednesday.

But despite everything, it was the best time I've had with family in years. 



  1. If you're getting a headache from Dick I think the proper name for your malady would be a Dick-ache. Be sure to use that name, especially in restaurants. Just a suggestion.

    jtb sans icon

    1. I've had a dickache a few times, but at least I'd earned it.

  2. Mike Huckabee is the former Governor of Arkansas. I know they're both CSA states, but one has a slightly more disgusting record on race than the other.



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