The term 'dysfunctional' family is one that pops up an awful lot these days, generally in reviews of films and TV shows where we are treated to bizarre leaps of logic undertaken by m[u/o]ms, dads, siblings, and Steve Carrell with alarming frequency. But I think the adjective has no right in that particular phrase, and should be shunted off as quickly as possible. That's just how 'family' is.
I am someone who avoids my family. I like to be an atom spinning around in my own safe Nuclear Family. After all, what are they? People who happen to have been born in close proximity to the woman who gave birth to you and nothing more vital. They're essentially 'friends' you have no choice about making. I think this has been quite an achievement on my part, though - I have 19 first cousins, and the various aunts and uncles that go along with them.
But occassionally, one visits and you're left with no choice but to... well, smile and stuff of that nature. Be polite. Or nice. As happened just... today. When my grandma visited. She's staying with my brother (who lives away from me - I don't even see my sibling on a daily basis!) but we all got together for dinner. Casual (read: awkward) conversation takes place for 2 hrs about stuff we already know or stuff we have no interest of, with the occassional amusing anecdote somehow slipping through the net, nearly unwelcome. One of the details revealed: my brother and his girlfriend were going to the Leaguesy (club) and leaving gran home alone.
Is that morally reprehensible? Probably. Even though she lives on her own anyway I think the idea of going out to a party and leaving your granny alone in a strange place should at least raise an eyebrow of the most streadfast social bastard, but it was all discussed there at the table, in an excessively reasonable fashion. The indictment handed down from my parents was thus: That's an arsehole-ish thing to do, and we will make you aware of this. But we can accept it. This time. You arsehole.
Another hour of eating and avoiding talking for the danger of saying something irrevocably retarded followed and we made farewells. They got in my brothers car and disappeared, we mirrored them in the opposite direction. You'd think that would be the end to the evening.
Once we've driven a k or so out of town, into the countryside that we call 'boring' or, quite often, 'home' the conversation shifts from how damned cool Mark Knopfler is to 'what the hell was my brother thinking?' Apparenlty the sheer outrageousness of the situation hadn't been fully realised at the dinner table, and it was only now in a state of sobre reflection that the complete bastardliness nature of their very own Judas had come to light.
He was going to pay.
By having me stay in his house.
These are the irrational acts that family drives us to, for whatever reason. I am, right now, in my brother's computer room, a little bemused at the surreal turn of my evening. I feel like I'm in some sort of Samuel Beckett play, ready to spout endless soliloquies about the godlessness of man until dying a slow death at the end of the third hour much to the relief of the audience...
Something about the Irish, isn't there? They're either unbelievably jolly or unbelievably depressing. Stay tuned for more analysis of the Irish next entry...