Sunday, July 17, 2005

Whining and dining

The Dining:

The wine flowed, the food sizzled, and the conversation was...well, a fairly typical conversation in our household. Actually, our dinner party was a success, judging by the number of empty bottles in our kitchen and by the conspicuous absence of cheese and chocolate products from their wrappers. Somehow, we managed to move the conversation from general raves about the house to a brief discussion of animal rights to a drawn-out, excrutiatingly detailed dissection of a recent King County bestiality case, to bashing Seattle's transit plans -- and we even threw in some mid-20s career reflections for good measure!

Ndugu marked the occasion by straddling his log to reach the outstretched hands of visitors, then subsequently flipping himself over.

It makes me wish I'd had the space and friends to throw dinner parties earlier, perhaps when we weren't imminently departing for England. Nonetheless, I've spent the day with elevated hopes, thinking that I'll be in touch with everyone long after the UK culture shock fades. I can't wait to move back to Seattle someday, where I will find a house of my own and hold more dinner parties for the incredible cadre I've met since college started. By then, I will also have taught Ndugu to wash dishes for us, thereby eliminating the massive cleanup operation we have to start this evening. It's times like these I wish I could levitate furniture back into their rightful places. I also wish I could miraculously make the compost take itself out, so it could understand how much it hurts to be attacked by small, psychotic pests that spring from the compost bin like pop-up book characters. Except pop-ups don't have microscopic fangs capable of inflicting quater-size wounds.

The Whining
*Warning: this is NOT for the eyes of blood relatives. Also, no one may speak of it to my blood relatives, or discuss it with anyone who knows them. EVER.*

I'm having a David Sedaris moment.

There comes a time in every person's life when you realize that your family is crazy, and when all the illusions of normalcy crash down around your ears (if any remain by the time you hit your 20s).

That moment arrived recently, when two members of my immediate family joined the ranks of the tattooed. This may not sound like a big deal, but keep in mind that I only have three people in my immediate family. (Can you feel the outrage seething through the italics?) Never mind that it's completely normal for everyone to have tattoos these days, from the checkout clerk to the pastor of my local church. That doesn't mean it's okay for formerly sane relatives to become part of the masses.

I instantly regressed to my teenage years and fought an urge to hunch my shoulders while snarling, "Don't even talk to me!" I mean, the tattoos were my form of rebellion, my personal affirmation of identity, and my freaking idea in the freaking first place! Now I find out that I'm no longer the odd person out -- worse still, I think I may be the unwitting instigator of all this. Imagine the hororr you might experience if you were confronted by your own parents, grandparents and cousins as they beamed and pointed at their new ink jobs. Good god of all things holy, what natural order has been perverted here??

Quickly, I tried to envision a new way to stand out from the crowd. I realized that only three options remain to me: piercing (too difficult), branding (too painful) and scarification (who the hell even contemplates cutting their skin into artsy patterns?). I could always shave my head or dye it fuschia, but I don't think the fine upstanding elders at the Cambridge foundation would appreciate my reinvented self.

The worst part of it is that the family tattoos actually look cool. Better than mine, even; one of mine is incredibly simple and the other self-designed, and I possess all the design skill of an orangutan. The teenager in me is choking on her teeth, trying not to scream, "And did you have to make them better, too? There is no justice in this world -- it sucks." I can feel my posture mutating into a slouch as I internally insist, "I don't care. I just don't, okay?" But...crap. They look amazing. Maybe my self-created epiphany at 16 was correct: the world really is an unjust pit, ringed by oblivious relatives with gorgeous tattoos.

Oh yeah, one other thing. The two family members have seen the same artist for their work. In a moment of humor I will never appreciate, he designated himself our family tattoo artist.

There's something only my family could attain: a tattoo guru of our very own.

I think I'm going to get the rest of my work done in London.

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