We’ve had many family members come out and visit over the past month, but none spent more time here than my in-laws and my wife’s aunt and uncle. And as valuable as the time was spent talking over home-cooked meals, the most entertaining part was venturing with them out in public.
It’s possible you saw us, a large crew of people with New York accents aggressively and loudly entering an establishment and causing much confusion. This typically occurred at restaurants, where we’d request a table for “how many people do we have here?” At one particular restaurant, we moved our entire party from inside to the outdoor patio because that is where my father-in-law decided he wanted to sit instead. Then everyone took turns walking our daughter around the restaurant and introducing her to people who were trying to eat. Then my wife’s cousin, who had been mistakenly told by my father-in-law to go to a different restaurant, finally arrived, at which point her car alarm went off in the parking lot because she had allowed our daughter to play with her car keys. So, if you were there, yes—that was us. Sorry.
But it wasn’t just restaurants where we spiced things up. Though not traditionally noted for soliciting spice, another place we spiced up was church. We were the large group squeezing into one pew who were the only people not holding hands during the Our Father, and who assumed we could use our regular voice to speak to one another while music was playing. The Catholic Church changed its Mass responses last year to coincide with a more literal translation, but my wife’s uncle continued to respond the old way “out of principle.” At the end of one Mass, the priest called up the parishioners who were about to get married so we could bless them. My wife’s uncle, instead, yelled out, “Don’t do it!” Twice. He yelled this out twice.
But the most entertaining part was when many of us went down to Tempe two weekends ago to partake in the Pat Tillman Run. My father-in-law, who had said the night before he “wasn’t bringing anything,” wore his typical race-day gadget ensemble, which included an iPod armband with headphones, headband, race sunglasses, an old cell phone in case of an emergency, a gigantic watch, and other things which had functions I wasn’t familiar with. When we got out of the car, he literally became entangled in everything when his headphones formed a knot with the strand from his sunglasses, and he couldn’t get anything over his head. My wife had to assist him.
They held a vendor expo before the race, and it was like walking through with tourists. My father-in-law drank everything offered to him—I think he mixed a McDonald’s smoothie with a 5-Hour Energy, which is probably not good. My wife’s aunt and uncle filled out a credit application so they could each obtain a Buick GMC cutting board, and also posed for a picture with a Chick-fil-A cow.
After we finished, my father-in-law and I happened to see Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt, who was extremely personable. After shaking hands, the coach looked my father-in-law up and down, noticing his endless array of race gadgets and outerwear, smiled and said, “Wow, looks like you were ready for the race!”