Wednesday Write-in #26 @ CAKE.shortandsweet
Prompts: bloodbath :: sweet and sour :: unplanned
SAD UNCLE DALE
I don’t like my Uncle Dale. He’s a cynic and family gatherings are his forum for lamentations on commercial holidays and young optimism so he’s also an asshole. He bitches on Thanksgiving and he bitches during Christmas and he bitches in February when we’re all gathered on the north side of the city for Grandma’s birthday.
And he always makes me party to his weeping and moaning. Maybe he thinks I’m hip.
Maybe he’s trying to pass the torch.
“Nice to meet you, Benjamin,” he will say to the latest boyfriend to be coerced into participating in the first family introduction (the “bloodbath”, as Dale likes to call it). “Rachel’s told us so much about you. What are you studying down there in Champaign?” Then Dale will lean in close once the nascent pair has moved on and, with his voice down beneath the din created by the rambunctious grandchildren say, “sweet and sour chicken, if you ask me Laura.”
But this particular bloodbath is always worse because Grandma’s birthday coincides with Valentine’s Day and Dale hates Valentine’s Day.
“Why thank you, Mimi,” he’ll say to my little brown-haired niece after she gives her sad Uncle Dale a valentine, then start in on it directly. “Look at how young they get them started with the cards and the candy and the streamers. Get ’em spending young so you can get ’em spending forever, you know? The parents are programmed too. They’re all in on it. It’s perverse.”
Yeah Dale, I know.
“It’s pathetic that Americans need a consumer holiday to remind them to say ‘I love you’.”
I guess part of me agrees with my sad Uncle Dale. It’s all so affected sometimes, something I avoid at all costs whenever there’s a man in my life. And when there is, I certainly don’t bring him to Grandma’s unplanned bloodbath to meet Dale, master of ceremonies.
But where is Mrs. Sad Uncle Dale? At home counting her ‘love you’s’? No. I think not. I think there is a reason that sad Uncle Dale has earned himself such a somber moniker.
I think he knows he’ll be alone some day.