Since my early teens I have reserved a specific term to describe most of my extended family, sans one specific side. Uncle Bill, Aunt Shirley, my cousin BJ (a friend of Dorthy as well) and my cousin Lori (in her prom picture she is a dead ringer for model Nicki Taylor), are the few, notable exceptions. I mention those names specifically, to distance them from what I like to call the goat fucker clan. I suppose the term is more than telling. Trust me, whatever you envision is no doubt accurate.
So I’m sure you can guess my level of enthusiasm when, last night, I had the pleasure of dining with a shining example of that clan. It seems my father, under the guise of being “friendly”, had given my Toronto visiting cousin Barbara, my number.
Give it a chance, you suggest? I did! Maybe she’s changed, you say? She has not! It can’t be all that bad, can it? You tell me.
Barbara is fiftyish. Devoutly Baptist, currently a missionary in France, she not only has never been married, she is a virgin, thank you very much. This she informs you a few short sentences after explaining her vocation. Just so there are no “misunderstandings”.
But in the one deviation from the rest of the goat fuckers, Barbara is educated. Very educated, as she has a PhD in Visual & Artistic Depictions of 18'th Century France. Thus, she is an expert in absolutely nothing, or absolutely everything, depending on your perspective. Which may be why the unmarried virgin missionary, who can talk intelligently for hours on end about all things French art, works as a marriage counselor.
Oh, the irony.
But here’s the best. For whatever reason, no doubt because I don’t reference Monet with an erudite affect, she has always placed me in the “he who rides the short bus” category. A snippet from last nights conversation. “So tell me again Allan, what the heck is an ambulance driver working in Russia for”?
Apparently, this would be her favorite thing to ask, as I have answered it every time I have seen this woman over the past ten years. “Well, Barbara, that was almost ten years ago and I was a critical care, expanded scope paramedic at a remote clinic with no doctor or hospital for thousands of miles.”
“So you must have had first aid, surely”?
Smiling, not blinking, I say, “Yes, Barbara, besides my paramedic certification and a degree in community health from UCLA, I managed to acquire my Standard First Aid”.
A blank, pasty faced stare.
Solidifying my impression that my dear cousin is not simply clueless, but an evil bitch who is intentionally patronizing, she follows up with this gem. “Your dad said that you are currently doing some kind of art that teaches you to write better? That sounds excessively modern.”
“Oh that, yes, the Master of Fine Arts in creative writing, with a literary non fiction focus?” I say, sans inflection.
“Oh, heavens to Betsy, you can go to grad school for that now? In my day it wasn’t even an undergrad.”
Yes, she actually said, “Heavens to Betsy”.
Trying really hard to be better than the goat fuckers, I suck the bile back down my throat and smile, thinking, “Well Babs, keep in mind that in your day they also gave out PhD’s in eighteenth century French art to virgin missionaries who dole out advice on how to fuck.”