If I’m Stuck with The Same Folks in My Next Life, I’m Going to Learn to Be a Pot Smoker

There was a brief moment when the Butcher and I were alone in the van when he said, “I wish I had a job” and I said, “Yeah,” and he said, “So I could have something else to do other than spend a week with these people.”  He right now is over at his friends’ and I have prevented the littlest nephew from calling him every other minute.

I love how the recalcitrant brother collects his son from North Carolina and then dumps him with my parents for the week that he “has” him.  The recalcitrant brother will also be getting him for a long time during the summer, along with my oldest nephew, and plans are already in place for him to dump them at my parents for at least two weeks in June, if not longer.  One wonders, really, how often this happens.  It’s mighty convenient, isn’t it?  To have your kids and not have them, because you have foisted them off on your parents?

Today was a disaster on many fronts, though, strangely, I’m still feeling okay about it.  I think this is because the Butcher seems to be having such a hard, hard time this visit.  Last night we had to stand around the AT&T store and watch the youngest nephew while my parents bought the recalcitrant brother a new phone, which was astounding for all kinds of reasons.  And then, this morning, when it became apparent that the only thing the youngest nephew had to wear to church were a pair of too-tight jeans and a worn Terrell Owens jersey, the recalcitrant brother got upset with my dad that they had not gone out shopping for clothes for the nephew last night.  And I thought that the Butcher was going to beat the shit out of him.  I don’t remember the last time I’ve ever seen the Butcher so livid, but it has got to have been a decade or longer.

I mean, America (and folks around the world), the recalcitrant brother got snippy with his own father because my brother doesn’t provide for his children and expects my father to.  Can you imagine?  And when my dad asked–and please, set your drink down before reading this next part–where the rest of the money he’d given my brother to go to North Carolina and pick my nephew up was (since he ended up not needing to get a hotel room [?!]), the recalcitrant brother again got angry because, of course, it should be obvious, he had to give the money to the oldest nephew’s mother.

America, don’t get me wrong.  My dad is not an easy man to live with.  And I can imagine that there’s a certain amount of psychological fuckery that comes from constantly taking money from a person you love but are pissed at and who you believe ruined your life (whether or not that’s the case), but Jesus Christ, in my house, I cannot abide by the way my brother talks to my dad, the dripping contempt that comes across as if the grandkids are my parents’ problem and how they do or don’t take care of them says something about how they feel about my brother.

You want to work that shit out with your parents?  Fine.  Don’t disrupt the peace in my house.  (And the recalcitrant brother is put out with me because I made it clear that I am not going to Georgia to visit him.  As if there is some acceptable place to visit him.  As if it’s not fucking depressing as hell.  No, no, a thousand times no.)

And my poor oldest nephew.  His mom took back his step-dad, who regularly beats him and his mom.  And now, his mom’s all mad at him because he won’t behave and so, as a punishment, she’s sending him to live this summer with my brother, which means living with my parents or living with his great-grandmother, because that is where my brother lives.  And so they’re discussing how to deal with the fact that my nephew is “acting up” and “misbehaving.” And the recalcitrant brother says it’s never a problem for him, because he doesn’t stand for it, and I think we can all guess what that might mean.  And my dad says, “Well, if you want to straighten him out right quick, just tell him that he’s acting just like his step-dad.  He hates that.”

And I said, “What the hell?  You don’t tell a kid who’s being beaten that he’s just like the guy who’s beating him.  What kind of fucked up bullshit is that?”  “You’re not a parent.  You don’t know.”

So, fuck it.  I went in the other room.  These people are just mad as hatters, clearly.

Ugh, and this post was supposed to be about the church we went to, which was so sad.  Clearly, dying.  Beside us, there were only twenty people there.  And the pastor was stunningly terrible.  Who always left one verse out of every hymn we sang and somehow managed to give an Easter sermon that didn’t mention Jesus.  Christians of the world, the scripture was Isaiah!  On Easter!  On Easter, there was no New Testament reading and the sermon did not mention Jesus.  It was shocking, to put it mildly.

I mean, if there’s one thing you know when you go to a Methodist church on Easter, it’s that you’re going to hear a Bible reading that recounts the Easter story (usually, it’s the bit about Mary at the Tomb at the Sunrise Service and Jesus appearing to the apostles at the main service) and a sermon that talks about Jesus.  You should also sing “Up from the Grave He Arose,” at least once, every verse, because then you get to be all quiet, “Lo in the grave he lay, Jesus my Savior.  He rolled the stone away, Jesus my Lord,” and then everyone stands a little taller and sings like you’re trying to shake the cemetery dirt off of at least Charles Wesley, if not John, “Up from the grave, he arose [the men then go: he arose] with a mighty triumph o’er his foes.  He arose a victor from the dark domain and he lives forever with his saints to reign.  [Women and children:] He arose!  [Men:] He arose! [Everyone:] Hallelujah!  Christ arose!” and then you go eat.

How the fuck are you supposed to work up an appetite on Easter after all of the candy and the eggs if you’ve not had a rousing rendition of “Up from the Grave He Arose”?!  It’s not possible.

So, believe me when I tell you that I understand the alarm that engulfed my whole family as the service went farther and farther astray from what one expects on Easter.

But folks, there were only 26 people in the congregation, six of whom were us.

And I shit you not, the only person I didn’t have to give the “Be quiet, they will hear that you are talking about them” look to was the Butcher.

They bitched during the service about the service.

I am at a loss.

11 thoughts on “If I’m Stuck with The Same Folks in My Next Life, I’m Going to Learn to Be a Pot Smoker

  1. Wow. Just…wow. How do you deal?!

    As a child, I went through years of forced company with unpleasant relatives. As an adult, through the combined attrition of distance, death, or avoidance, I’ve narrowed my family down to the small group that I like. Life is much better this way.

    I feel for you.

  2. Sounds like big brother could use a boot to the ass. If your dad “ruined his life” (what is he, a teenage drama queen?) for eighteen years, what the hell has he been doing in the other half? At some point, you have to grow up and learn to use the tools in your shed if you ever plan to be worth a shit.

    It’s sad on a daily basis, particularly for the kids, but it’s also sad for your parents. Compensatory love (to be applied retrospectively to all those places where we failed as parents) never works like one hopes it will. The only good part is that the grandkids will get to be with the grandparents in a stable atmosphere where somebody will love them and watch them and not beat them. Your brother appears to be stunted in the maturity department and mediocre parent at best. Since he doesn’t intend to man up (and children are not magic man-makers anyhow), his placement of the kids with your parents is probably the best thing that can happen to them out of the options available.

  3. I keep thinking that this is the group of people who think it’s worthwhile to criticize you for weighing and oddly-specific 80 pounds too much? What complete and utter horseshit.

    I’m sorry you’re having to deal with this, sorrier still that the nephews are, and glad to realize that my own messed up family doesn’t have any kids in it to screw up.

    Hang in there.

  4. I keep thinking that this is the group of people who think it’s worthwhile to criticize you for weighing and oddly-specific 80 pounds too much? What complete and utter horseshit.

    Amen. Couldn’t have said it better myself.

  5. Families truly suck! I have sister who once stole a diamond necklace from my apartment because she said “my girl friend was a whore who didnt’ deserve it.”

    But she never gave it back and gets livid if anyone in the family asks about it. I’m lucky that 5 of my 6 nieces and nephews have turned out great, while the sixth one is a coke head who lives off her parents. 5 out of 6 ain’t bad.

    In fact, I gather that the butcher is an outstanding person like you. So like Meatloaf said: two out of three ain’t bad.

    I just feel for the kids. There is nothing they can do about this. Life is awfully hard on little people. I think Truman Capote said that.

  6. And if the butcher ever needs help giving the other brother a good ass kicking, then just drop me a line.

  7. I’d suspect we were related, except that you do not have nearly enough relatives in the mix. Also I don’t think there is enough smoking. And nobody is in jail right now.

    Also, I have been to that church. We received a sermon entirely derived from the Helen Keller story, all nine of us, except the pastor was unable to pronounce “water” like a normal person and kept saying “WATT-tter.” My sisters and I wanted to giggle, but couldn’t, because we made up 2/3 of the congregation.

  8. Big hugs to you for all of this. I always think of you on Easter. Seems like we made a big Easter brunch when we lived together. I just remember you doing a rendition of your favorite hymn: “Up from the grave came Bill!” I can’t remember why you changed Jesus’ name to Bill, but it was funny.

  9. You know what’s funny (and kind of embarrassing, and something I’ve been debating mentioning for some time now) is that I’ve been reading your blog for YEARS and I still don’t know your relationship to The Butcher? I’ve been imagining him as your brother/roommate/boyfriend depending on the situation and tone.

  10. The Butcher is my baby brother and lives with me.

    And is my boyfriend; this is Tennessee, after all.


    Yes, an incest joke. We have reached a new low here.

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