My grandfather's 80th birthday was last week and about 16 or so family members met up at a local resturaunt. There were a couple of my cousins, my aunt and uncle from Tennessee and various others. I don't see my extended family as much as I did when I was a little kid, but not much as changed with them. My girlfriend busts my chops that I don't get along with my family as well as she does hers and to a degree, she's probably right that my attitude has something to do with it. When I'm not around them, I feel as though my attitude improves, but when we get into a gathered setting, it seems to go right back to square one, and I realized why; My family has a growing problem. They are extremely predictable. Just like my mom still thinks I wear size 30 pants (I wear 34) and I don't like Sealtest Brand Milk (my brother didn't when he was little) the rest of my family runs with these preconceved notions about each other.
It started with my cousin Megan who is easly the ditz of the family. Just like every meal that I've shared in her pressence...she started making her faces. Faces as if to say, "Why on earth have you just put poison in front of me?". Then the questions start; questions like, "What is this?". Then the complaints; "This smells gross...you gotta be kidding me..." Then it's on the stories about the important things in her life, which usually include gossip about some friend of hers, or why it is she needs to take certain classes in school. Megan is 21 years old...She is EXACTLY the same as she was when she was 1o years old. Her mannerisms, personality, speech...EVERYTHING. Then there's her brother Mike, who always calls me Buddy or Tough guy...talks down to me...the guy is like a year and a half older than I am. My uncle Kevin tries to fit in with anyone he possibly can even though he knows he's the only one there who actually wants to talk about golf. My Mom tries to fit in by telling the same stories everyone has heard a hundreds times and by bringing suveneres that nobody wants (pictures, nick-nacks). My Uncle Marty tries to be the group spokesman yet fumbles through everything that he says. My brother eats anything fattening he can get his hands on and mutters under his breath at everyone like he's the cool kid in a class full of nerds.
This next thing is, regrettably, my biggest problem at family functions...my sister. My sister and I get along great when it's just me and her, but when there's more than just 2 or 3 of us in a room, I suddendly become the butt of all of her jokes and I'm not alowed to say anything with her 'shushhh'ing everything that I try to say. She does this as if I'm going to say something that would completely embarrass her. And if I do make a joke, she initially scowells at me untill she realizes that other people at the table are laughing. Though she won't admitt it, my sister likes attention, and it's like I said, one way she knows how to get that attention is by making fun of others; and when I'm around, I'm always the first target. It's like I have to plot out exactly what I'm going to say around her as to not give her any fuel. This tactic almost never works; she finds things anyway. If I'm not talking at all, she makes fun of that fact. And as I've said with my cousin, this is exactly the way my sister behaved 10 years ago.
How have I grown in the last 10 years? Hard to say I guess. My early teen years sucked (as a lot of people's teen years do for various reasons) and they only got slightly better as I went through high school. I was very unsure of myself, very shy, confused, depressed and angry. My shyness has subsided a bit; I still don't jabber-jaw at people I don't know just for the sake of it though. Confused; not so much. I've a got a slightly better handle on the world these days. Depressed...well, I've medication for that now. Angry; not so much that as I feel hurt and bitter. What bothers my family about me? Mostly the fact that I don't "Get with the program". They get pissed off when I refuse to be treated or talked to a certain way. I got angry with my mother a few weeks ago because she accused me of being irresponsable and I would just lose a certain peice of paper if I were allowed to hang on to it. Then a few days later I got angry with her because she implied I was foolish for making a 30 minute drive in the car that own...I then pointed out to her that I drive the car for 4-5 hours every day at work. I can't write anymore of this.