I have discovered, to my delight, via a little tab, that there are a surprising number of people reading both of my blogs from Denmark. I cannot put into words how this both warms and tickles my heart. The thought of people I don’t know, especially from outside the States, reading my haggard little words makes feel a lot less haggard.
Now I admit, I am a poorly educated Melungeon from East Tennessee. This means I do sometimes confuse Denmark with the Netherlands. You aren’t the people with little boys who stick their fingers in things; you are the people of Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”. I apologize for my metaphors. Please keep in mind I have to take my shoes off to count to eleven.
I realize that you all, or ya’ll where I come from, probably think by clicking on the URL you will be watching that strange polka dance we here in America do at ball games or when we are drunk, usually both. Instead you get a melancholy “Dan” who took his moniker from the Werner Herzog film “Stroszek”. This must confuse you terribly and I apologize again.
Perhaps you are like me and wake in the morning with the feeling you are supposed to be somewhere else and are searching the computer for life in a different chain of mountains. Personally I have always believed that I was switched with another baby at birth. While I pine for champagne and caviar for breakfast, I know in my heart there’s some guy in Manhattan who feels the need to milk cows and dip snuff at sunrise.
Regardless, whoever you are out there—thank you. I wish I had more to offer you than the words I battle with my old laptop to make sense. I hope sometimes you are touched, sometimes you are moved and I truly hope that sometimes I make you laugh out loud. That’s my point, like the little chicken in the aforementioned film whom at first you think is dancing but by the end you realize is just trying to keep his balance while the world spins out from beneath him. You are very welcome to my heart.
In fact, hop a plane and come on over this weekend. We are having a family reunion, and being the single guy I never have any “family” of my own to bring. You can be, heck, YOU ARE my family. It can’t be more than a ten, twelve hour flight from Denmark.
You can be here in time for dinner. Don’t worry about bringing anything or a place to sleep. There’s plenty a room and, oh God, way too much food. Mom and her sisters have been cooking and baking all week. There’ll be fried chicken, ham, Lisa made steak fingers, deviled eggs, cole slaw and enough Southern dessert concoctions to send the entire population of Denmark into diabetic coma until the next Olympics.
Don’t worry about a place to sleep. It’ll be just like Christmas when I was little around here this weekend. At night, the house will look like the battle scene from “Gone With the Wind”; everyone parked and plopped everywhere snoozing away. You are more than welcome to worm yourself a comfortable space anywhere.
I will warn you though do not; I repeat DO NOT, sleep on the floor by the couch if my cousin Robin is sleeping there. One Christmas, while sleeping on the couch, she threw up on her little brother Bobby, who was sleeping on the floor with his mouth open. This caused a chain reaction of vomit amongst all the cousins sleeping in the living room waiting for Santa than none of us care to repeat.
Oh, and if you see something you think may be a bear, it’s probably just a shadow. Believe me, when you see a bear, there will be no doubt it’s a bear. And don’t be silly and run to get your camera and run back out. If it’s a bear, just run in the house and stay there until he’s gone. ‘Kay?
Now you more than likely will see a huge snake I have named Hoser. (Read my previous blog “Critters” for more details.) My cousin Billy’s wife and several others have seen him. There is a debate going on as to whether he is a copperhead or a water moccasin. Personally, I don’t care. He’s huge, python huge and I’m pretty sure he ate a chipmunk for breakfast this morning which is just rude.
He pretty much lives by a big rock in the creek and I wish the family would stop trying to look at him. He may come to expect the attention and never go away. It’s not that I am unfriendly. It’s just that he’s a snake, a big effing snake and like Martha Stewart having an orgasm I know it’s possible, but I prefer not to be reminded.
Don’t worry about fitting in, you’re family. Here in the South, when you are family, it doesn’t matter. Most of us Southerners don’t even like our family, but we figure we’re stuck with each other and only have to see each other at Christmas, reunions, funerals and occasional birthday parties for matriarchs.
I think the best definition of a Southern family I ever heard came from my Aunt Mag. We had a surprise birthday party for her on her 80th birthday. I think that a surprise party for any one over seventy is kind of mean, but no one ever listens to me.
Anyway, there were easily over 200 people who showed up for Aunt Mag’s birthday. My cousin Bobby and I were sitting near her and he asked her if all the people were her relatives. Wise and wonderful Aunt Meg, smiled and pointed at a small group and said, “Well, them right there is my blood (Appalachian for relatives) everyone else is just family.”
Now if you decide to come, you can’t miss us. Just drive up the mountain to the Bloody Third. We’ll be the house by the creek with all the rednecks and cars in the front yards. You’ll be able to tell it’s us because none of the cars will be up on cinder blocks. You can see us from the road, probably with a small cluster of people at a big rock by the creek looking for a stupid snake.
I will remind you we are all natives of Tennessee, North Carolina and Maryland, and one Chickasaw from Oklahoma, but she’s harmless. We’ll probably be confused ask you a lot about Heidi and the Alps, neither of which you have. Just smile and nod, we won’t take offense. We are quite comfortable in our stupidity.
You can ask us about Elvis and Dolly Pardon. The former is dead and from Memphis, which to us mountain folk is another country. This other is a ninety-minute drive southwest and a completely different set of mountains.
Some may ask you about Hamlet and Shakespeare. Don’t panic. Just make something up. I’m the only one in the family that probably knows anything about Shakespeare and they are probably just trying to make me feel like less of the black sheep. When approached with a subject you don’t know about just ask about tomatoes, who made the chocolate pie or anything having to do with NASCAR. You’ll fit right in.
I would try to avoid anything about health. Some of the older members will try to out “sick” you. If you have a headache, they’ll have a migraine. If you have trouble with your knees, they’ve had their legs bitten off by bears. It’s a lose/lose subject. Avoid it.
Regardless, you’ll be welcome and have a great time. Afterward, we’ll be able to brag about the really cool family we have descended from Heidi who flew in from the Alps, and you can go home and say you spent the weekend with folks who eat fried chicken and throw up on each other for holidays.
Now, I do not mean to exclude to people reading from other countries. You guys from Portugal, UK, China, Spain, Greece and Australia are more than welcome to. Even you, the one dude from Germany that read “Let’s Talk About Your Underwear”, please come too. (Bring Baklava).
I don’t have to extend an invite to the people from the US. You should just know you’re welcome, unless of course, you are a Democrat. You can still come, but stay away from Bobby and the people from Maryland. Bobby likes to shoot stuff and well the people from Maryland are from Maryland—‘nuff said. (Bring ice.)
Even if you can’t come to the reunion, thank you for being a part of the family. Even though I don’t know you and probably never will, you have a special place in whatever may be left of my life. I hope some in some way; I can earn a place in yours.
Come to my blogs anytime. Leave a comment and say “Hi” if nothing else. You can always plan on coming to the reunion next year. It’s always the last Saturday in September. Mom says bring napkins.