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A Field Guide To Dealing With Relatives At Summer Gatherings

family

I know what you’re thinking: “Hey, idiot, it’s damn near September. Where was this column in May?” To that I say: I have no idea.

But hey, maybe some of your families get together in the fall. Maybe you’re one of those assholes in Southern California who has eternal summer. If so, I want you to know that I hope your entire state falls into the Pacific and ends up lodged next to Antarctica. We all hope that.

New York bitterness aside, family get-togethers can be extremely stressful, so I’ve compiled a bit of a guide on how best to sidestep those stressors and enjoy the time spent with people you can’t disassociate with even if you’d like to.

Here’s what you’ll need:

Clean Stories To Tell
“So I got my tongue up this chick’s ass.”

Don’t lead with that at the dinner table.

Just as Andrew Dice Clay’s opening salvos will win you no laughter with Grandma or Aunt Carol, neither will stories about office party broom closet hookups, turning the backseat of a taxi into a vomitous lake Michigan, or the 42 f-bombs you dropped on the guy who snaked your parking space at Target.

And while your third herpes scare may be great comedic theater for you and the rest of your degenerate buddies, you’ll sooner find yourself in a living room intervention than headlining at The Laugh Factory.

Here’s a litmus test–would you roll your eyes as George Lopez delivered this hackneyed story to a laugh track?

If so, let it ride. Your family will love it.

Headphones
Invariably, for at least one of the days you’re with your family, there’s going to be a day-long torrential downpour. You can take that to the bank. Subsequently, you’ll be stuck in a lake house, a cabin, a hotel room, or a doomsday prepper’s hollowed-out boxcar fortress with nothing but screaming children, bickering uncles, and a Monopoly board where some jackass lost the top hat and race car pieces. Who the fuck uses the iron? Nobody, that’s who.

Rather than having to mortgage your last two properties to pay rent to your 6-year-old niece who landed on Park Place yet again or hear Uncle Pete’s moon landing conspiracy theories for the ninth year in a row, grab your headphones.

Find a relatively quiet place to lie down, throw on the new Gucci Mane mixtape or your favorite podcast, and just drown out everyone. Because actually drowning them is illegal. And time consuming.

Patience
I have NONE of this. None. Not a single modicum of patience coursing through my veins. Not a solitary strand of it.

Will that stop me from hypocritically dispensing advice on it?

No. No it will not.

Look–family is annoying. You love them to death and would do anything for them, but they’re annoying. My family, your family, everyone’s family, and the one family that outwardly doesn’t seem annoying at all is SUPER annoying once nobody else is around.

You’re going to have to bite your tongue quite a bit. When you’re watching the fourth quarter of the football game and your grandmother snags the remote and switches it to Nancy Grace, bite your tongue. When you stashed your good beer behind four loaves of bread in the fridge so nobody would take it and then you see your cousin drinking one, bite your tongue. When you get woken up at 5:30 a.m. by your aunt wondering if you want to “go on a quick jog,” bite your tongue.

You actually may just want to run to Dick’s and buy a mouth guard so you have a tongue left at all.

Alcohol
You need to have PLENTY of this.

Please believe that I’m not going to any family gathering without enough alcohol to tranquilize a mid-sized rhinoceros. It’s just not happening. Beer, gin, wine, Four Loko–it doesn’t matter. The general rule here is that the more family that’s around and the longer the trip is, the higher proof or ABV you need to get.

Just a weekend away with the parents? A couple sixers will probably suffice.

Some aunts, uncles, and cousins will be around, too? A bottle of vodka may not be the worst idea.

But a full-blown family reunion? Somebody call a Brink’s truck and fill it with the entire contents of a liquor store.

The trick here is to maintain a solid buzz throughout the day (assuming you’re not operating any cars, boats, or bulldozers) without coming across as the drunk uncle at just 27 years old. You’d be surprised how much more enjoyable games of Uno or taking 78 pictures on 92 different cameras can be after five Summer Ales. Suck that draw four, Timmy. You’re not winning shit.

If all else fails, refer to item four–over and over and over again.

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Spacely Sprockets

Fluent in gin & tonics and Cam'ron lyrics. Forever reporting tweets about weather and Instagrammed food pictures as spam.

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