Family Reunions

A friend on Facebook posted about his wild night last night, and one of his other friends, in response, posted a video of a song about the family reunion from hell.  Which I will reproduce for your viewing pleasure at the end of this blog.

I only ever went to one family reunion.  It was in Ravenden, Arkansas.  The fact that it was in Arkansas should be all you ever need to strike fear into your heart, and the fact that the town was named Ravenden?  I don’t know why it’s named that, and I don’t think I want to know.

It was at the country home of Uncle Somebody that I’d never met.  There were several notable events at this reunion.  First, I had a cousin I’d also never met, whose name I can’t remember (that was the only time I ever saw her).  We’ll call her Mary.  Mary was a very stocky person, with very short hair, who was dressed in a very obvious male fashion.  You know, I have never figured this out, but you can have short hair and wear pants and still not be taken for a lesbian, but somehow, Mary could have been wearing a sign.  There was a lot of whispering going on about Mary being a lesbian, and the conclusion was, “Well, she lives in St. Louis”.  That settled that.

Mary was, however, upstaged by my Aunt Ruby, my father’s half-sister.  Ruby was getting ready to retire and had applied for a birth certificate from the state of Arkansas.  She found out she didn’t exist.  What had happened was, while my grandmother was pregnant with Ruby, her husband died.  They had been hoping for a boy, and had already picked out a name, which was Ralph Victor Nelson.  So even though Ruby turned out to be a girl (assuming they can tell the difference in Arkansas), that’s the name that went on the birth certificate.

Ruby had just found out about this, and made the rounds proclaiming that she henceforth would not answer to “Ruby”, but only to “Ralph”. She made an exception for you if you were really her friend, then you could call her “Vicky”.   She eventually made such a scene that she drove my grandmother to tears.  Which was her intention all along.  After that, she backed off.

But meanwhile, Ruby’s husband and I, my Uncle Gus, decided to escape and take a walk down the road.  Uncle Gus had been a Cadillac car salesman all his life, so I foolishly assumed he was a straight-arrow kind of guy.  What was I thinking?  Car salesman?  Really.

We’d been hearing strange noises from the wooded lot next door, and what we found was a sort of roadside zoo.  I don’t remember all the animals they had, but there were two coyotes and a slow loris.  There were no people there, so Uncle Gus starts opening the cages.  I wouldn’t let him open the cage of the slow loris, because I knew it would die in this environment.

So we snuck the cage back to Uncle Somebody’s and hid it in the garage.  Meanwhile, the coyotes went straight to the chickenhouse of the nearest farmer.  He shot them both, and called the Sheriff.  Who was in the next county, so it took a while.

Eventually though, they show up at Uncle Somebody’s and want to know what we know about it.  We are, after all, next door.  By this time of course, everyone there knows about the slow loris in the garage.  (Gus and I had upstaged everyone.)  But nobody talked.  Two things were going on here:  the family thought we had done the right thing.  You may hunt and kill animals for food, but you may not imprison them and mistreat them. Second, it’s Arkansas.  We don’t talk to the Law.

Frankly, we are all a bit warped.  Which is why I liked this song so much.  Although no crystal meth was involved in this story, we maybe could have gone to the lot on the other side and checked it out.



3 responses to “Family Reunions

  1. Family reunions – no! High school reunions – yes!

  2. I went to my undergrad in Arkansas and my late wife was from Little Rock. I understand the dynamics of Arkansas families, and applaud the author’s ability to completely capture the gestalt of her family.

  3. I was so glad you decided to write about this adventure!

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