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GUNS Magazine December 2011 Digital Edition - Page 94
• J O H N C O N N O R • Knowing how to get along and make things run more smoothly. t’s gonna be like herding 1,000 feral cats from Texas “I to Wyoming; like hosting a PeTa banquet at a Black angus Steakhouse; like running through a fireworks So saith Uncle G, and before Helena and I could offer excuses for not attending, he laughed and waved us off. “Just messin’ with you, kids! I know you can’t make it. Besides, you two have paid your dues.” Every other year, Uncle G, who has this sprawling hacienda and property called “Rancho Inferno,” invites 30 to 40 members of the greater extended family, tribe and tenuously-related strap-hangers to a huge, holiday season get-together a week before Christmas. The Memsaab and I have attended a handful of ’em. Waking hours was like linedancing blindfolded through a minefield with everybody singin’ in different languages. The sleeping arrangements were like hot-rackin’ on a diesel pigboat. The calmest of them resembled an old “calling-in of the clans” in the Scottish Highlands: Everybody’s sorta-related, but they routinely war with each other, so you pay sharp attention to who’s wearing which tartan—and keep your claymore close. Oh, there have been problems; sisters slapped with soup spoons, brothers-in-law bonked with gravy boats, even persons poked with turkey forks. A Boston-barroom-style brawl once broke out over who best personified Peace On Earth, for Pete’s sake. I only got in a little trouble at one of ’em. A distant relative was wearing an enormous pink sweater with GUESS on it. So, I guessed. Later, Helena 94 THE HO-HO HOlIDAy RUlES factory with a torch. are you sure you don’t want to come?” explained that’s a clothing brand; she wasn’t inviting people to guess her weight. Pretty strong, though. I was surprised she could even lift that big ol’ chair, much less throw it. I considered these soirées to be good training for urban combat—or an undercover assignment in an asylum. Why he always does the party has been a big family mystery. How he does it—and maintains any sliver of sanity—is an even bigger one. Uncle G’s Rules Of Order Uncle G read the attending Order of Battle from his notebook: “Out of Welcome to Rancho Inferno. Observe 12-Minute Bathroom Rule OR ELSE! 34 RSVPs who say they’re coming,” he said, “Ten moved as far away as they could as soon as they could, to get away from eight of the others. Six are politically extreme left and right— three of each—and I think the others are in league with the devil. Nine of ’em talk non-stop, and four use only grunts and gestures. Two are stonedeaf and eight are teenagers who go into withdrawal without ear-splitting music. Three have less than a 1-to-1 tooth to tattoo ratio. Seven are rugrats. The age spread spans 76 years. This oughta’ be classic!” How he could chuckle about it puzzled me, but I think his famedin-the-family Rules of Order really help. Some of you folks are probably planning holiday gatherings, so you might benefit from his wisdom. Herewith, some selections: Duration of Event: The Benjamin Franklin Rule is, “After three days, fish and guests begin to stink.” Stinkers found on the premises will be bagged and deposited in appropriate receptacles. Solicitation of Opinions: If you’re female and you wonder if a certain garment makes you look fat, it probably does. Don’t ask me, because I’ll tell you. If you’ve recently changed hairstyles to something spiked, metallic in color or resembling a voodoo doll, don’t ask if I like it. I have hedge clippers and know how to use ’em. If you’re a guy, don’t ask if I can tell you’ve been “working out”—especially if you’re a pencilnecked geek and ought to know it. Check your politics at the door. Don’t even ask “how did you vote?” I voted by secret ballot. You should try it. It goes like this: (1) You vote. (2) You shut up about it. Engaging in political commentary will get you hosed down with brisk, refreshing seltzer water. Repeat offenders will be hosed with something else. Food & Beverage Service: At considerable expense, fishies, fowls and the flesh of beasts will be cooked and served, yours truly officiating daily at the grill. If you’re a vegetarian, you may politely decline WWW.GUNSMAGAZINE.COM • DECEMBER 2011