Monday, December 24, 2007

Family Gathering # 1

Sometimes characters can be duplicitous, but this is the time of year when families and groups of friends get together for meals and gatherings, thus making lovely targets for characters who have a background in sociology or anthropology, or archaeology. They like to move amongst us, taking notes making observations which they will use to broaden their visions of us, just as we watch them to note their behavior for later stories.

Sometimes it is a younger member of the family or group who brings such a person to a gathering. They almost invariably make themselves known by casually admitting to some food aberration.

Imagine the kitchen, about half an hour before serving time. Mom and Aunt are happily checking the array of menu, checking its readiness, its consistency, its essential picture of health. Into the kitchen rushes Junior, who is admonished to be patient, perhaps even given a marshmallow from the yam casserole, but isn't having any.

Hey, that guy Aunt Eadie brought, he wants to know if the cranberry sauce is organic.

Mom and Aunt exchange a nervous glance. The turkey is organic.

He doesn't care about the turkey, he's a vegan and not going to eat any. He wants to know if the cranberries are--?

Well, I don't think so, but couldn't we just tell him--you know?

Wait a minute. Suppose she's serious about him. We'd be starting off with a lie.

Do you really think there's anything between them except, you know, lust?

Hard to tell at this stage. We'd better tell him the cranberries are questionable. Junior, tell him the green bean and almond casserole is entirely organic but the cranberries are questionable.

Doesn't matter, he doesn't like green stuff.

I thought he looked a bit thin.

There are such characters at family gatherings, and even though they do look a bit thin, they have the ability to unhinge the group stability for quite a time, while Aunt Eadie sorts through her emotions and wonders what life with him would be.


R.L. Bourges said...

ah yes, the vegan. or the bimbo from hell uncle Gerry brings over. or uncle Gerry himself getting too drunk for anybody's comfort. (To my mind, the Thanksgiving scene in Richard Russo's Straight Man caught it all live.)
(Good luck to Aunt Eadie - I'd love to meet a vegan with a sense of humor; I'm sure they must exist...)

Smiler said...

A guy like that just can't be taken seriously. Unless he lives in New York maybe, where neuroses alone fuel a sizable economy. I wonder if psychiatric services are traded at the stock exchange. That right there would be a mighty good investment. What's a vegan who won't eat greens? pfe. the boy's got too many problems I tell you.

x said...

Hey, I'm not a vegan but I do have an "organic" obsession/pesticide phobia that ranks up there with the most fanatical and neurotic. FYI non-organic cranberries are Heavily Sprayed, exceptionally so, right here in Massachusetts, in fact. So organic cranberries are a real prize. But would I ask about it at a family gathering, even my own extendend family gatherings. Are you kidding me? I'd rather be poisoned. Poor, poor Aunt Eadie.