at the family gatherings Uncle Festus would always crowd to the end of the table and shove food in his great big ugly jowls while ranting and raving about “them” “them” being anybody “not me” and he was gross and ugly but at times he could be kind and funny so we ignored his attitude and his angry words and just let him eat with the rest of us
eventually some of the younger cousins more distant cousins began wondering why we put up with Uncle Festus' bullshit and we said well he’s been thru some hard times (hard times) and he needs to vent (needs to vent) and he’s not doing nobody no harm when he talks like that here because we’re family and family looks after their own so the younger cousins more distant cousins didn’t say anything but we noticed after that when it came time to have tea and ice cream they’d move off and have it
somewhere else somewhere away from Uncle Festus
after a while we started moving Uncle Festus down the table away from the grown ups (the real grown ups) down towards the peripheries with the elderly and decrepit relatives the crazy old aunts the cat ladies of our family Uncle Festus did not like this but he channeled his bile into more talk about “them”
one day a young cousin showed up married to one of “them” and Uncle Festus was unfailingly polite greeting her warmly and cheerfully but soon enough he began railing about “them” and we all blanched in horror but she closed her eyes (painfully) and said that’s okay I understand that’s the way he is he’s not really going to change
and we relaxed because she understood and she wasn’t going to make a big deal about it no matter how painful it was
and this went on for a couple of years with her patiently enduring because she had to he was family then one year she showed up with a baby and Uncle Festus began railing against “them” again and this time we were horrified
this time we said Jesus Christ, Uncle Festus, there’s a baby here!
yeah? so? she’s still one of “them” ain’t she?
and that’s when we realized if the price of having Uncle Festus in our family was putting up with his bullshit in front of a little baby who had done nothing to deserve it then we weren’t willing to pay that price anymore
Uncle Festus did not take kindly to this he grew bitter ugly resentful claimed we were depriving him of his liberty his freedom of speech punishing him for that little baby being one of “them” and we began listening to his crap really listening not just letting us wash over us the way we had in the past and we realized how wrong he was and how wrong we had been and how it wasn’t going to get any better until he was no longer there
so pass another plate of bacon down to Uncle Festus give him a big pile of biscuits and gravy plenty of ice cream loads of sugar in his sweet tea and afterwards go out back encourage him to smoke his cigarettes by the carton
we don’t “hate” you Uncle Festus but for the peace of the family we just need you to die and the sooner the better
art by John de Yongh text © Buzz Dixon