Andrew had again stormed out of the annual family gathering. The whole crew was there: his in-laws, his brothers and sisters, their spouses and kids, his parents, many new spouses, and kids, some even brought their dogs.
It’s another circus freak-show. Such an array of saints and dishonorable misfits, he thought. Why do we do this to ourselves?
Photo credit: KL Caley
Like many years before, he determined to not let any of the pugnacious members bait him into an argument but after several years, certain members now considered him to be the challenge to crush and they sought him out and immediately found some point in his principals to press on until his blood pressure rose and an argument was started.
“Damn, but I hate arguing with them,” he said out loud to no one, then settled back – willing himself to push the resilient grudges from his mind.
At least, we’re here rather than any of the smaller homes, he thought. This annual reunion was at one his brother-in-law’s large estate and easily was the only good thing about this meeting. There was the quiet path down through a small undeveloped forest, across a quiet meadow to a small stream and trout pool. Here, he could sit, decompress and let time pass without the pain of dealing with the idiot parade until it was late enough that he could collect his immediate family and leave.
This year, Carl, had some new illegal drugs he wanted to share, Betty was bragging how she’d received three ballots in the mail for the upcoming election and was thrilled to vote all three of them, while Curtis brought a keg of his home brew and was going out of his way to share it with the kids and Deborah; ugh! I wonder if she even owns a top that covers her surgically enhanced cleavage.
This wave of thoughts bit into his efforts to calm down. He knew thinking about them all would only unsettle him again. Oh – to be rid of them all . . . .
Suddenly the quiet scene before him was disturbed. Ah – parent swans and their – what are they called, chicks, or is that just the name for young chickens; can’t be ducklings, but what?
Without thinking, Andrew leaned to the left and reached back to pull out his pistol and found himself sighting down the barrel with the closest parent swan in focus.
With his trigger finger against the gun frame and off the trigger, he released some of his anger by thinking, If I were God, I could just as easily remove all the failed persons in my life as I could eliminate that bird.
And just like that, he felt like a fool for having pulled out the pistol. He knew that wearing it to the reunion only antagonized several of his failed relatives, but it’s my right, he thought, fully legal in this state and is one of the few things I have control of. It’s going to stay right where it belongs – on my belt.
He holstered the gun and settled back, refusing to accept feeling foolish, but knowing he deserved it, even owned it for letting everyone get to him like this.
The ambience of the pond settled back to its previous calm with the swans idling about in perfect peace.
Remind me, how is it okay for you to antagonize everyone with your gun while it’s not okay for them to antagonize you with things that are important to them, whispered a silent but familiar voice beside him.
Andrew shook his head, not wanting this confrontation but still angry enough to instantly snap back in his thoughts. I don’t care how childish it sounds, but they did start this annual fray and this — this is the only line I’ve not allowed them to push me past. My position about carrying a gun is both legal and a fundamental right. It’s fully harmless unless I needed to use it. Their actions are often illegal and detrimental to everyone. They can be such parasites that drag us all down, but me — I’m just ready should things ever get really out-of-hand.
He knew that last point was a stretch because there had never been any actual physical violence at these get-togethers.
So, you believe you may have to kill one of them someday?
Andrew simmered inside, biting his lip, searching for a path of logic that justified his position, not wanting to accept that there simply was no such path.
They, not me, are the problem. Their lifestyles, the way they live their lives are so trashy, so negative and – and argumentative, they make the rest of us miserable.
Says the one man who, alone, is not at the party. Their bad influence is not in question, but you are only acknowledging one factor. Are not all the others also influencing them?
Not very successfully.
Oh, and when did you gain such insight to judge such things? Is it not likely that hiding here, with your powerful 9mm pistol firmly on your belt, are taking your chance to influence them off the table? Now they have a fuller access to the others including your children. Are you not sending mixed messages by hiding like this?
Andrew stewed, not wanting to even try to answer.
The swans suddenly noticed him, and the closest parent swam in his direction, likely hoping to get fed, he thought.
The swan family followed at first, but then the second adult turned and drove back the newborns.
The action was not lost on Andrew.
Fine, he thought. I’ve never won a discussion with you. I’ll lock the gun in the car and return to the party. I can guess who’ll notice and challenge me on leaving it behind. I won’t start the argument but will try to resolve it – somehow. I doubt I’ll change any minds.
Correct, but your influence will be back where it’s needed.