its a family affair

Last Saturday, I drove up to my uncle's house in Short Hills, NJ for a little family get together. Its been about a year since I've seen everybody, so I was prepared for lots of food with an interrogative grilling and a side order of tsismis (gossip) and some soap opera drama. This particular occasion was thrown in honor of my younger cousin's graduation from college. Seeing this kid graduate didn't make me feel older but I was blown away by how the young ones have grown and how much everyone else got older. I often carry a mental picture of everyone in their prime, so some of this party played out like a cheesy sitcom where the episode goes in the future and artificially ages the actors by whitening hair and simulating wrinkles with heavy makeup. Nonetheless, everyone was in good spirits and in typical storytelling mode.

Most filipino parties often breakdown socially by generation. Interestingly enough, we bucked the trend at the start and found ourselves eating with a bunch of "tito and tita" inlaws. I was running conversations with the table and later amazed my wife by confessing that I didn't know who they were (my apologies). I sensed from her reaction that this would not be good form in Japanese culture.

We moved on from that table and joined the more comfortable company of my older cousins to share some laughs., my wife commented that I was a 'tweener. I fit in between the group of college age cousins and the 40-something cousins with kids. Most of the college kids have thankfully matured to the point where they finally acknowledge my presence (even though I tirelessly played with them when they were toddlers). I was glad that we could now conversate - but relieved that they didn't include me in their "group". The older cousins fussed over their kids and seemingly searched for something exciting in my life to live vicariously through. I sensed that one of my older cousins (who I idolized) is stuck in a dead end job and blurted out, "Its a 9 to 5...nothing changes..." Then I caught him sitting there blanked out - looking plainly like a tired daddy. Not exactly encouraging my perspective on having kids...but hey maybe the guy just had a long day.

Suprisingly, no questions about when we were going to have kids. My parents must have slipped the word to leave us alone on that topic. Then I realized that my parents have been trying to satisfy their gossip hungry ears. Our occasional trips to NYC became translated as "Oh I hear you go up north to NYC all the time and you never stop by. All we get is a wave from the turnpike!". Many relatives were asking about my new job - since my dad forwarded my personal email to all of them without my knowledge. This is the same dad who used to travel in secrecy because he didn't want any of the relatives to find out and gossip. Now he's an informant! I guess he broke down during their interrogations. We've gained the rep of being a "very private couple". Its all good though - we all had laughs about it.

Then came the "grilling". I was questioned about my sister, my parents, my cousins in chicago and vegas...and just about anyone who wasn't present. One of my cousins concluded that I'm only good for the surface info...once you dig deep - I have nothing.


kiita said...

whew! thanks!

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