Family: July 2006 Archives

It just wasn't the same without Hank

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A couple of weeks ago I had my Big Fat Southern Family Reunion. I think we're losing our touch, because not only was there no beer, Hank Williams, or the few family members stumbling around the buffet in a state of perpetual semi-sobriety, there was no drama. NO DRAMA. I drove two hours for NOTHING.

The fire-starters in the family boycotted the gathering, except for my very tall aunt, who strolled up the sidewalk to watch the event from across the street on a neighbor's front porch. I did what any rational full-blood Scaggs would do, which was to take photos of her:


I seeeeee you.

The above, and one of my favorite aunts telling me how she kept a collection of baseball bats in the trunks of each of her cars for when she meets our crazy Cousin Meth, kept it interesting. To imagine my aunt angry is to imagine the reaction of an opossum which you've unsuccessfully tried to fricassee. Opossum's eyes glow like the devil, as do my aunt's.

So the younger cousins played,

a great uncle showed me how just a flick of his wrist gets his pin-up to shake it,

Audrey looked cute,

and Nana let Liam have more sweets than he was allowed.


[more family reunion shots.]

The bad, rotten little seed

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Last weekend Chris's indecently large German family had their annual family reunion. It is not so much a reunion as it is an excuse to get together and karaoke, which they do with a reckless and terrifying abandon. Because Chris's grandparents refused to allow old age - or the risk of breaking a hip - to deter their late night action, they had a frillion children. Thus, the family is enormous.

The reunion took place at an aunt and uncle's house whose large yard accommodates an equally large pool. Because the reunion always takes place on the hottest day of the year, all of the kids - and most of the adults - swarmed the pool. There was much screaming, and shrieking, and children flying through the air everywhere. It seemed that most of the water was splashed out of the pool. Babies floated along the waves in tiny floats, like pieces of driftwood, while parents fussed over their sun block.

Liam manages himself fine on dry ground. When in the water he wears water-wings and can keep up with his older cousins, yet my eyes weigh his every move. One particular moment, while Chris had Ewan at one end of the pool, Liam swam in the middle with a group of his second cousins, one of them a 10-year-old boy. I was careful to watch but not LOOK like I was watching, because Liam is at the stage where if I LOOK like I'm watching I'm deemed Most Uncool and given a "Mom! Can you PLEASE stop watching? I'm not a baby." However, I wasn't about to turn away when one of the cousins he was swimming by was a boy with a reputation for not being particularly nice to the younger kids, especially to Liam. The boy was apparently tired of Liam swimming by him, raised his hand, placed it square on top of Liam's head, and shoved him underwater. He wasn't dunking him; he was holding him underwater HOLDING MY FIVE-YEAR-OLD SON UNDERWATER. The tops of Liam's arms were sticking out of the water, fighting laboriously to free himself. The boy wasn't letting go. There amidst all the noise and merriment, my son might've drowned and no one would've known.
I screamed the boy's name.

"GET YOUR HANDS OFF HIM. KNOCK IT OFF!"

He gave me a blank stare not unlike a slug.

"YOU'RE DROWNING HIM! GET YOUR HANDS OFF HIM OR SO HELP ME GOD I'LL DRAG YOU OUT OF THAT POOL BY YOUR THROAT."

He sneered and finally let go. Liam popped up to the surface half spitting and vomiting up water. His older first cousin swooped in, grabbed him and threw the boy a death look; I pulled Liam out of the pool the rest of the way with one arm. By this time I'd gotten Chris's attention, as well as that of everyone in the pool.

"What on earth is going ..." Chris began, but stopped when he saw Liam gasping for breath. "WHAT HAPPENED."

"HIM." I said, my eyes projecting five-foot flames as I pointed right at the boy. "He held him under water and wouldn't let go."

Chris turned to the boy, red with rage.

"Yeah, well he had his arm floats on," the boy spit.

"That doesn't matter when YOU'RE HOLDING HIM UNDER WATER, GENIUS." I shot. "I want you to put these on your arms, I want to hold YOU under."

"Whatever," the boy replied, and rolled his eyes.

"HEY. What's your problem?" Chris asked. "I know your mom. You like, I'll go talk to her right now."

"Whatever."

"NICE ATTITUDE. Do you realize that you were drowning him? You CANNOT be rough like that with these little guys. Stay away from him from now on."

And with that the boy slithered out of the pool and off into the shade somewhere. I wanted to twist his neck like a bread tie. I was all at once livid and terrified; terrified because I knew had I not been watching it was likely that Liam would've drowned. He made no noise; there were so many in the pool and so much splashing and action, no one would've noticed the little boy being held under water until his lungs filled and he stopped breathing. They wouldn't have noticed until it was all over, until he was floating, motionless. Honestly, I don't know how I would stop from killing someone if that happened.

I hugged him and dried him off with a towel. Luckily, he wasn't traumatized. Chris stayed by his side in the pool for the rest of the day; their other cousins that Liam adores immensely joined them and before long Liam was playing alongside them in the water again.

Carrying on an old family tradition

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A lot is happening this weekend, one I can tell you about tomorrow when I know more details, the other being that it's time once again for my kuntry family reunion, y'all! The one located in the armpit of the Ozarks. Really though, it's beautiful country out there, so long as you overlook a few lilly-white rednecks and my Aunt Paula's hair lip. This weekend we'll drive a couple hours south to spend the afternoon with extended family in a town which reveres a semi-stray, three-legged dog named Tripod as its mascot.

I am betting that the potluck buffet will include at least several buckets of fried chicken, which is the FOOD OF GODS. The whole thing is organized by one of my great aunts, a sweet but bossy woman who is the apparent strong arm of the family. Chris used to harbor a paralyzing fear of my family reunions, only because my family drama is legendary. It's like Dallas, but without the oil or money. Or ten-gallon hats. Now he sees it as entertainment. Everyone is always on their best behavior at the reunions because my family has one unspoken rule that they only follow when gathered together: Don't fight with your own. If you do choose to fight with your own, everyone takes it upon themselves to get involved because there isn't anything that anyone likes better than a good fight. Should you be an outsider and pick a fight with my family while in their Ozark stomping grounds, the entire town gets all hillbilly - mostly because my family is the biggest family in the town, about 80% of the 368 census.

It reminds me of an evening which took place years ago, related to me by my mother: My mother, my step-dad, and various aunts and uncles went to a saloon - again, no pubs or bars, taverns and saloons only - and after a few brews some stranger may or may not have made a pass at my mother's sister while my mother used the loo; when she returned she saw her sisters, brothers, and in-laws throwing chairs and fighting while Nazareth's "Hair of the Dog" blared on the jukebox.

(My step-dad would be so proud of the Hank Jr. reference.)

How to: blowed up

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Yesterday we taught the boys about the great American pastime of BLOWING STUFF UP. Liam has always been a little timid around fireworks, Ewan, however, screeched with an unimaginable glee and tore off with a caveman-like wonder towards whatever direction he saw fire. Chris and I were SO PROUD. In my youth, I was known as the Queen of Bottle Rocket Warfare and Chris used to fashion makeshift bombs from different parts of firecrackers. We take pyro seriously in this family.

Step One
Spend a small fortune on consumer explosives. Acceptable choices include any package with a snarling black cat on it or anything labeled "Desert Dominator." That worth celebrating should be done so with fire:

Not content with the simple Firecracker, we got the Demolition Cracker.

Step Two
Allow your five-year-old child to participate (and light a fuse with the help of his older cousin, both of whom were TOTALLY SUPERVISED). Giggle as he charges away from the lit fuse like all hellfire is after him:

Step Three
Take photos of your exploding dollars. The only way you could make it better is by eliminating the middleman and actually setting your money on fire:



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Dana asks: "Thanksgiving Traditions: Yours or Your Mother's?"