I’m the only one on medication, which really explains everything

I just returned from a big family get-together in Galveston, and after spending two days in a condo with my closest relatives, I have finally come to accept — and I say this as an alcoholic with a panic disorder who practices Witchcraft — that these people are fucking deranged.

In my family’s defense, I should mention that I was not at my most charitable, as my weekend had gotten off to a rocky start. Instead of crawling out of bed at an unreasonable hour to drive from Houston to Galveston, I figured I’d just crash at Douglas’ apartment on Friday night, since he lives way out on the South side of town. That way, I could sleep in an extra hour, have a leisurely cup of coffee with my bestest friend in the whole wide world, hit a 12-Step meeting for extra fortification, then skip off to the island. Douglas asked what time I wanted to get up, and I said 7 a.m., then fell asleep on the couch.

On Saturday morning, I popped awake around 10. Apparently, Douglas’ repeated attempts to rouse me (which were basically “making coffee loudly” and clearing his throat every time he walked past the sofa) were unsuccessful, and he hadn’t seen his boyfriend in hours, so he left a key on the kitchen counter and bailed. It was pouring outside, so I called my parents and explained that the rain was causing a delay, but I’d be out there as quickly as possible. At this point the Universe gave me the chance to opt out of the weekend, as my parents we all, “Oh no, you can’t drive in the rain! That’s too dangerous!” And actually, I hate driving in the rain. But the implied message that I am incapable of driving safely got under my skin, and so to prove that I can get in a car and turn on the ignition without the vehicle bursting into flames, I was all, “I am an excellent driver, and I’m on my way.”

Funny side note: I’m a terrible driver. But my parents don’t need to know that.

So anyway, I finally made it to Galveston and caught up with everyone, at which point the assorted neuroses and passive aggressions flared in earnest. Following are a few of my favorite moments:

[My two-year-old nephew is in the living room, playing with some blocks.]

My Mom: “Hi, Robby! Where’s the train?”

[He points to the toy train behind him.]

My Mom: “Great job! Where’s the train?

[He points to the train.]

My Mom: “Wonderful! Where’s the train?”

[He points to the train again.]

My Mom: “I’m so proud of you! Where’s the train?”

[He shoots me this look like, “Can she seriously not see the train?”]

Me: “I know, kiddo. I know.”

[My brother and I are chatting about his four-year-old daughter’s extracurricular activities.]

Brother: “She’s doing really well in ballet. Lauren, can you do a dance for Uncle Sweeney?”

[Lauren is visibly uncomfortable with the idea.]

Brother: “Don’t you want to show Uncle Sweeney how well you dance?”

Lauren: “Um… no.”

Brother: “C’mon, Lauren! Let’s dance for Uncle Sweeney!”

[He dances around the condo like he’s taking it to church. My mom joins in. My niece and I bond over the shared mortification.]

Mom: “Are you going to have enough pillows?”

Me: “Yes. I’ve got two, which is plenty.”

Mom: “Are you sure? Because we’ve got six on our bed.”

Me: “Yep. Two is perfect.”

Mom: “Are you sure you don’t need another one? We’ve got so many.”

Me: “I’m sure.”

Mom: “Are you sure you’re sure? I don’t think two will be enough for you.”

[This goes on for about 20 minutes. Eventually, a light dawns.]

Me: “Do you not want all of those pillows on your bed?”

Mom: “No, I don’t.”

Me: “Okay. Just take the extra ones off your bed and leave them in here.”

Mom: “Oh good. I thought you needed more pillows.”

[My other nephew has texted my dad to let him know he’ll be dropping by Sunday, and he will have his two dogs with him.]

Dad: “Andrew is bringing his dogs. Are dogs allowed here?”

Mom: “I don’t think pets are allowed in the rental units.”

Dad: “What should I tell him?”

Me: “Just tell him dogs aren’t allowed.”

Dad: “But what if he gets here and sees dogs in the building after we’ve told him he can’t bring his inside? Should I text him back and explain that he may see dogs on the premises, but that they belong to condo owners, and since we’re renting a unit, he can’t bring his dogs in with him, and we’re very sorry about that, but the rules are very clear?”

Me: “I… really think you can just tell him not to bring his dogs in with him.”

Dad: “And then if he asks about the difference between owners and renters, I can show him the leasing agreement?”

Me: “Yes. We can weather that storm when it hits.”

[My brother and his wife have put their kids to bed and have gone to visit her parents on a different floor. My mom is in an easy chair, trying to read a book and yawning every couple of minutes.]

Me: “Are you tired? Why don’t you go to bed?”

Mom: “I’m going to stay up until your brother and sister-in-law get back, in case the children wake up.”

Me: “I really don’t mind staying up, if you need to go to sleep.”

Mom: [yawning] “I’m really not sleepy. Besides, what if the kids wake up and are scared? Their parents aren’t here, and they’ll need someone.” [She yawns again and turns on the television.]

Me: “Well, I’ll be here, and I’ll be awake, so I’ll take care of them if they wake up.”

Mom: [Still yawning, but with a look of suspicious disbelief on her face, as if my solution for handling frightened children would be tossing them off the balcony.]

Me: “Really, go to bed. Everyone will be all right. I promise.”

Mom: “No. I’m staying up.”

[Even more yawning. An hour passes.]

Me: “I’m going to call and tell them to come back. You need to go to sleep.”

Mom: “I really am wide awake.” [yaaaaawn] “Is there anything on TV you want to watch?”

I ended up texting my brother when my mom wasn’t looking and telling him to come downstairs ASAP, because my only other option at that point was chloroforming her. Surprisingly, he came back almost immediately. (I say “surprisingly” because of the number of times he’s turned off his phone and then forgotten to pick me up at the airport.) PS: The kids didn’t wake up.

Now, lest you think I was floating about as the lone voice of reason in a sea of madness, picture me on Sunday morning, huddled on the bathroom floor and frantically counting pills, because I couldn’t remember whether or not I’d taken my anti-anxiety meds. Also picture me hastily removing accessories as I pulled up to the condominium complex, because even though my parents are fine with the alcoholism and the homosexuality, I’m convinced they’ll disown me if they find out I have both ears pierced.

So, y’know, I come by my own insanity naturally. And while none of the above are really that bad, it’s actually a little reassuring when my dad gets anxious, or when my mom refuses to follow logic, since it means that my personal brand of minor-league fucked-up-edness is most likely genetic. I do my best to take ownership whenever I make stupid decisions or walk into plate-glass windows, but it’s also nice — when people are staring, mouths agape, at whatever idiotic stunt I’ve just pulled — to be able to flash a winning smile and say, “I appreciate your concern, folks, but there’s no need to worry: Everything’s fine, no one got hurt, and I really was just born this way.”

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