Like, imagine you had a conversation with your cousin’s side of the family. What are you going to talk about? The weather? Really, there’s nothing deeper than that, unless you have some familial issues you need to sort out. To a guy like me, there’s really nothing to talk about.
“What college are you going to?” They would ask
“Whichever one accepts me from [given list],” I’d respond.
They aren’t satisfied with that just yet. They’ve still go that “light in their eyes.” The sort of piqued curiosity that you see in elementary school students.
“Found a girlfriend yet?” They would pry further; lean in a little closer, awaiting some grand announcement.
Oh, that grand announcement will come – in time. “No,” I’d reply. Not yet. And it won’t be grand – you’ll have to see her when I bring her along – if I bother to bring her along. If I ever come back in the first place. If I –
I don’t let the attitude reach my words. I wouldn’t get so pissy at something so basic. But I take a swig of water anyways, just to calm the nerves. At this point, though, I didn’t even have to do that. There won’t be any more beyond the usual “How are you doing”s and all that.
We don’t have much to relate to. They don’t watch any sports. We won’t really talk about anything political, because I don’t live in their country, and most of it is pretty alright anyways. And I wouldn’t want to talk about politics. They don’t play video games. There’s the language barrier. And there’s the usual awkwardness between “almost-strangers, almost-acquaintances” that you get the further you stray on the family tree.
At this point, you either talk about the food, or about time. Yeah, the food is alright. No, nobody’s really died recently. Yeah, I was pretty dumb when I was younger. Oh, your son/daughter did something recently? That’s great.
And I start dozing off. My parents are too loud. My cousins are too loud. They’re too young. Too childish. Too aggressive. Too bratty. Too different. Loud, too.
And I watch from the sidelines, twiddiling my thumbs and distracting myself with meaningless motions to let the day go faster. I listen to them talk about stuff that I don’t really care about. I listen to their opinions on those things, and I decide my own stance. I don’t talk about it. I don’t bother inserting myself into the conversation, because they’ve already got a good one going. I’m not interested. It’s alright. I don’t need my glass to be filled up with more juice.
They tell me that I should “bulk up.” I have been doing that. I’ve been growing my appetite. I’ve been picking up and putting down heavier weights. I’ve been progressing. I won’t say that out loud, but I’ll imply it. I’ll hint. The subtlety isn’t lost on them, but they would prefer to be boisterous, if only for today.
I realize that chances like this don’t come often. I realize that having your whole extended family sitting down at one table is a thing to celebrate in itself, but it’s just not my type of thing. I’ll be there. Just don’t expect me to be the life of the party.
Am I acting too cool? Yeah. But I’ll be another face in the background for you. Isn’t that enough?