There’s a yard sign I’ve seen around the internet that says something to the effect of how in The South we don’t hide our crazy. We put it out on the porch and give it a cocktail. There’s a reason for that, but it has less to do with embracing eccentricity and more the fact that there’s only so many people a house can hold. Not that the porch is really any better. Getting all your crazy kin out there with cocktails only ensures the porch will collapse and kill all your dogs.
My cousin Sharon says that while she wasn’t born in The South, she got here as soon as she could. I can only attribute this to a tendency towards stubbornness and a deeply held need to reassure herself she’s not so crazy after all. Having married into a family so eccentric Flannery O’Connor would run screaming headlong into a fainting couch, really all she has to do is show up to receive such reassurance. Her husband, my mother’s first cousin, and my mother like to look straight at my brother and me, and with all seriousness, frighten the snot out of us with the sober reminder, “WE’RE the sane ones.” Do they protest too much? No. No, unfortunately they are not, in this case, delusional.
Your family, normally a somewhat irritating yet benign protuberance on your butt becomes, around the second week of November, a festering boil which cannot be lanced until sometime around the last week of February when the image of your sister singing Patsy Cline’s greatest hits and wearing on her head the wreath you painstakingly created from months of collecting sweetgum balls finally fades. You TOLD her she’d had one too many Brandy Alexanders.
This time of year only serves to make friends of strangers and enemies of family. You’ll happily chat away to the woman in front of you in line who is asking if you understand a damn thing about these computer tablet pad internets she’s getting her grandchildren to play with, but you’ll lunge for Aunt Bunky’s throat if she tells you the story ONE MORE TIME about how they were so poor they had nothing to play with but pecan shells and how they never decorated with holly because they had to boil it into tea. This is the time of year that tries men’s souls. And patience. And livers.
And while I’m on a roll, whoever thought this was a good time of year for hunting season was obviously not just an only child, but an orphan. You haven’t lived until brothers, flasks empty, rifles loaded, come ass-over-elbow out of the woods arguing about why the other one is so undeserving of Mawmaw’s milk punch recipe. Grown-ass men. Armed. Milk punch.
This year I will put my shopping off longer than usual. I’ll pay out the wazoo to get everything shipped overnight if I have to. I’m hoping those Mayans were on to something.