Apr 06 2009


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“All right,” said Brigid, absentmindedly sticking a chicken leg into her coleslaw and stirring it around. “This is it, soldier, time for your briefing.”

“Sir, yes sir!” said Greg.

“Okay, this wretched collection of goons you see meandering towards us with obvious intent is my cousin Julia and her family: her husband Herb the Evangelist, her youngest son Tom the Thug, and her eldest daughter, Tactless Charlotte.”

“Wretched Julia, Herb the Evangelist, Tom the Thug, and Tactless Charlotte,” said Greg. “Got it.”

“Julia is of the firm belief that the primary duty of all human beings is to make more human beings, as many more as possible. She considers it a failure she’ll always have to bear that her own ovaries gave out after popping out only the five loathsome spawn. As such, her first question is going to be when are we going to settle down, get married, and start having children. When asked that—”

“I remember,” said Greg. “Pleasantly noncommittal.”

“Right. Above all, it has to sound like we’d like nothing better in the world and are bursting at the seams, but have been prevented by cruel fate. No misguided attempts at humor suggesting impotence or infertility.”

“Hmm,” said Greg. “Time for Plan B.”

Brigid shot him a dirty look as the party of four who’d been slowly but surely coming their way finally arrived. “Well, Brigid, how are you?” said Julia. “So good to see you, it’s been ages. You missed the last two reunions, we were all getting worried about you.”

“Well—” said Brigid.

“And who is this? A friend you’ve brought along?”

“Yes, actually, this is my boyfriend Greg. Greg, this is Julia, her husband Herb, and Tom and Charlotte.”

“Hello,” said Greg, with a wide smile. “Nice to meet you! Brigid was just telling me what nice people you all are.” He shook Julia’s and Herb’s hand in turn. Tom, apparently resentful towards Greg’s existence, gave him a sulky frown, but said nothing.

“Wow,” Charlotte said to Brigid while this was going on. “You’ve actually got a boyfriend?” Brigid gave Greg a sidelong “See? See?” glance.

“Of course she does!” Greg said. “I had to beat off three others with a stick.”

“Well! That does sound serious!” said Julia. Giving Greg a conspiratorial leer, she added, “Do I hear wedding bells in the distance?”

Acutely aware of another “See? See?” look coming his way, Greg shrugged. “Anything’s possible,” he said. “Right now I’m still working on that Ph.D., so I can’t really support a family properly yet. It’s not the kind of thing you can do without being responsible about it, obviously.”

“Oh, you’re so right,” said Herb. “I was just saying that to our pastor, that he needed to be more selective about who he would officiate for. So many people get married without thinking it through. But you can’t do that. It’s a binding agreement between the couple and God.”

“I hadn’t really thought of it like that,” said Greg. “But all the more reason to do it right or skip it all together, eh?”

“Exactly,” said Herb. “You can’t be too careful.” Turning to Julia, Herb said, “That reminds me, I need to ask your mother if she still has those kabob skewers for next weekend. Let’s go find her, shall we?”

“All right,” said Julia. “Good to meet you, Greg, and nice to see you again, Brigid. I’m so happy to see you finally with someone. I was worried for you!”

“Yup,” said Brigid. “Me too. See you later.”

The four of them ambled on, Charlotte’s voice drifting back with, “All this time, I figured she was a lesbian.” Greg blinked after them for a moment, then he turned to Brigid.

“Why kabob skewers?”

Brigid just shook her head. “After a while, you learn not to ask.”

-The Gneech

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