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8:28 a.m. - 2002-07-22

UNCLE BOB TAKES 13 PEOPLE HOSTAGE ... FILM AT 11

Fair warning.

If any of you turn on the news sometime in the next week and hear of a horrific crime taking place in Alabama where a man shot up at least ten members of his family, you'll know that Uncle Bob finally found a pawn shop that would sell him a cheap gun.

The weekend started innocently enough. My sister got to town on Friday. We went out to eat, drove out to the new house, walked around it ... no big whoop.

Saturday, we went swimming, all took naps, took my sister to see a friend of hers. Susie decided that since her sister and her brood of kids was in town that she would take Andrew and go see them 30 miles north of here at my mother-in-law's house.

That's fine. I'll wait at the apartment for MY sister to come back and then we'll probably go out to eat and rent some movies.

Everybody is fine with that. Susie's Mom is fixing tacos for everyone. So Susie will just eat those.

Hunky dory, right?

So my sister gets back to the apartment soon after Susie leaves and she wants to go to Copeland's, which is mine and Susie's favorite restaurant, but we can't go there very often because Andrew's at that stage where he hates restaurants because they don't mentally stimulate him. Either that or he's closing in on the terrible two's a few months early. I dunno. I never claimed to be a child psychologist.

So my sister and I go eat. Stop and rent two movies ... "American Pie 2" and "Ghost World".

We watched "AP2". I'm officially too old for those types of movies because I didn't find any of it funny. My sister hooted and hollered throughout the movie, thinking it was the funniest thing in the world. I contemplated taking her in for a DNA test to insure that she was, in fact, MY sister and not an in-law of mine.

Susie calls about 9:00 and says she's on her way home.

"Have you eaten?" she asks.

Which I find to be a stupid question. I TOLD her before she left we were going out to eat. And she KNOWS I usually eat dinner before 9 p.m.

"Yeah," I said. "We went to Copeland's."

"COPELAND'S?!?!?" she says loudly into the phone.

"Yeah, Copeland's," I reply.

Then there's silence.

"Fine," she finally says.

Obviously, she's a bit pissed with our choice of restaurants.

"Is something wrong?" I asked.

"I'm just starving," she said. "We'll talk about it when I get home."

She gets home about 9:45. The boy's asleep in her arms and she puts him down.

Then she comes back out into the living room to tell us that her family had STILL not cooked dinner at 9:00 so she finally left. As I've probably reported in this space on at least one other occasion, Susie's family is THE SLOWEST FAMILY you will ever meet. Everything they do takes them forever to do it. This includes every single member of her family from the mother-in-law, to the siblings-in-law to the children-in-law.

She said when she left, they were shredding lettuce and chopping tomatoes "just so". My decent brother-in-law ... the member of that family with any cooking skills whatsoever, does a decent job of cooking, but he watches too much of the Food Network. This results in him thinking that everything he prepares must look like it was concocted in a five star restaurant. So he painstakingly slices tomatoes so that there's 1/8th of an inch thick and then into eight chopped pieces per slice, cutting it like a pizza. He's like Emeril meets Rain Man.

So she hadn't eaten. And as she told me later, when she found out that my sister and I had enjoyed a delicious meal at her favorite restaurant ... she kinda lost it.

It didn't help when I asked her what she expected by having dinner with her family? They're slow people. Plus, they stay up until 3-4 a.m. every night because they're "on vacation" and sleep until noon or 1:00 in the afternoon. So technically, eating at 9 p.m. is early for them.

She was livid. She ate a hot dog and went to bed.

Strike one.


Sunday, we got up and went to church. My sister came back, packed her bags and left town for Georgia.

The state...not a southern lesbian lover who waits tables in an interstate truck stop by the name of "Georgia".

This is at 1:00.

Susie calls her sister who says that the kids want to "come see Uncle Bob" which translates into "get your knee braces warmed up...you're about to have several children who haven't bathed in days latch onto your legs and pound their pelvises into your knees for several hours."

Susie asks what time they're coming because Susie wants to get a nap. Her sister says that they are all putting on their shoes and about to leave.

Susie falls for this. Hook, line and sinker.

They're 30 minutes away. Keep in mind....Thirty f'n minutes away.

At 4:10 ... they ring our doorbell. Three hours and ten minutes later, they show up on our doorstep.

Susie would have been livid if she wasn't so exhausted. She's still dealing with the lingering effects of this two week-old chest cold which finds her with zero energy.

There are two van loads of people piling out from their vans and into our house. A total of 13 people start trying to cram themselves into our apartment. It reminds me of the circus when all the clowns start exiting the little volkswagon in the middle of the bigtop. Except none of these clowns are wearing makeup and they're all rubbing their crotches furiously like they're infested with crabs.

The adults want to go see our new home.

The children want to play with my Play Station.

I then was afforded my #1 Favorite Moment of the Weekend.

I was forced to utter the words "My Play Station is in storage."

The looks on their faces was priceless. Having me for an Uncle, these boys never know when I'm telling the truth and when I'm boldface lying to them. I make it a habit to rotate the two approaches to dealing with these kids on a regular basis.

They stood there, waiting for me to grin and say something like "I'm just shittin' ya....here it is!!" and whipping out the Play Station.

There were no grins and nothing was whipped out unless you count several lice from the youngest one's ear.

I announced the timeline that we were on ... the model home closed at 5 p.m. sharp and we had to be at a Fellowship Dinner at church at 5:30. The model home was 20 minutes away, so that if we were going to go see the house, we needed to leave now.

Of course, luckily for me, I had already asked and been granted by Congress to pass an Act that would allow everyone to leave right then at that very moment.

Because as I have learned by now, it takes an Act of Congress to get these slow bastards moving at a decent pace.

So they all file back into the vans as slowly as possible. We put a few of them in our van and then begin the three van caravan to the model home.

We get out there and, of course, the teenagers are acting like shaved apes with limited personal hygiene.

There's a sign on the patio door that clearly states "DO NOT OPEN THIS DOOR".

Why?

Because there's three wasp nests outside with about two billion wasps flying around.

My nephews are American. They speak English and to the best of my knowledge, they understand the majority of the English language.

So why in the hell the 14 year-old thought it would be funny to open the door is anybody's guess.

Two wasps get in the house that we could see before my brother-in-law slammed the door shut and started berating my ignorant nephew.

Meanwhile, two nephews are running around trying to kill these wasps in the house.

One of the wasps lands on the wall.

A white wall.

My nephew, clearly a candidate for Brain Surgeon of the Year, removes his sandal and slaps the wasp on the wall.

Dead wasp guts spray all over the wall of the living room.

Kelly, our realtor, is understandably mortified.

"Adam, now go get some toilet paper and clean that wall off," his mother lazily says.

Adam throws a mini-fit before he goes to get a wad of toilet paper and begins scraping splattered wasp off the wall.

We never found the other wasp. There were so many people in the immediate area that it was hard to maneuver after the wasp.

It's soon 5:00 and Kelly's more than ready to go. She's giving us looks like "I should have NEVER sold you that house."

We usher the family out of the house, which is like trying to corral a large group of three-legged cattle into a pen.

We then tell them it was nice to see them, but we have to go to our church potluck dinner.

Naturally, everyone wants to go with us.

Susie says it's a Fellowship Dinner and we're invited to bring guests to it so .....OKAY!!!

I cringe.

We get back in the van. It's me, my wife, my son and the three youngest nephews.

I'm trying to scold Susie without the nephews hearing me. This isn't easy. So I tune in a hip-hop station on the radio that they all agree is "the bomb" and crank it up on the back speakers.

"We can't just walk in there with 13 guests," I hissed.

"So we'll buy extra fried chicken," she hisses back.

"That won't work," I hissed, meaning "Your family is a group of gluttonous swine who will eat everything in sight before anyone else gets a chance to grab a plate and fork."

We stop and Susie spends $35 on fried chicken .... six big containers full of chicken so that at least we're bringing enough food to justify bringing 13 guests.

We get to the church RIGHT AT 5:30.

The blessing is said and everyone is told to get in line.

GUESS WHICH 13 PEOPLE WERE FIRST IN LINE?!?!?

They acted like this was THEIR church. They made no bones about it...they were there to eat, eat, eat and wanted to make sure they got their fair share of food.

Luckily, the only ones who were true gluttons were my decent brother-in-law who had his styrofoam plate piled high with samples of everything on the buffet, and his son who eats like his father, but doesn't have his father's metabolism. The boy's 14 and is built like Oprah.

The rest of them ate regular sized plates full of food. I'd almost say that I was proud of them, but ... c'mon...they're my inlaws. They could win the Nobel Peace Prize and I would still be hesitant to admit we were related.

HIGHLIGHT OF THE EVENING: After dinner, the small children put on a little production for everyone in attendance. They had just been through a week of Vacation Bible School and has learned five new songs to sing.

When I say "sing", I mean "stand around and stare at the crowd while a tape plays and the older kids mumble the lines".

After each song, those in attendance applauded which supposedly encourages the kids to continue on with their "production". Most people do it out of obligation because there wasn't a soul in attendance who would agree that these kids exhibited any sense of actual talent.

My 17 year-old nephew wanted to make sure that his mother knew that he didn't approve of the production.

After the applause died down on the fourth song, my nephew the Rocket Scientist, says to his mother "This sucks."

Except the room is deadly quiet when he says it. And he doesn't exactly whisper it either.

The mother, who learned to whisper in a sawmill, tells him to shut up. The two of them are already twice as loud as the collective group of kids on stage.

I just pretended I didn't hear any of it. I guess that I thought if I just sat there and stared at the stage with a fake smile on my face, God would answer my prayers and 13 people would be engulfed in flames and sucked down to Hell for all of eternity.

Apparently, God was on break. Because all 13 in-laws just sat there, picking at their teeth with whatever they could find handy.

After the production, the party broke up.

The in-laws were all going back to Grandma's to watch movies until dawn.

We came home where Susie allowed me to dis her family for an hour.

And to the best of my knowledge, I won't be seeing any of these people again until Friday at the earliest. Since they're all staying at Grandma's, we're not really expected to drive all the way to her house after work to "have dinner" that's not ready until 10 p.m.

That made me squeal when I heard that.

This may be the best visit they've ever paid us after all.

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