Family Feud ain’t got nothin’ on us.

(I’m writing this on the 24th because I will be on a plane on the 25th, so we’ll all pretend that I’m writing this tomorrow)

I forgot to mention yesterday that the one thing that kept me going during the new Advanced Tae-Bo tape was the fact that it looked like Ben Stiller was working out in these little spandex pants.  Oh, man, that guy looks like a sweaty, mad Ben Stiller.  And that’s enough to keep me going.  Really, it is.

The first Tae-Bo Advanced Live tape has a boy in a wheelchair doing the workout in the back of the room.  Whenever you are feeling particularly exhausted they cut to that boy still giving it his all, punching back and forth and then you feel like shit and keep going.  But when you’re on your hands and knees doing the endless butt workout Billy gets mean.  He walks right over to the boy when he knows that you are now crying and lying on the floor ready to hit the “stop” button and Billy says, “You see this boy here?  He doesn’t have the chance to better his legs.  These are all the legs he has.  You have a chance to make your legs better.  He has heart, but you have legs.  You’ve got to keep going.  He’s not stopping, you don’t stop.”

And then you feel like a worthless piece of shit and you get right back up and kick some more.

Sometimes Billy is evil.

On the Advanced Live 2 tape there is no longer the little boy punching back and forth.  Now they have the one and only Overweight Tae-Bo Member punching and kicking back there.  She’s sweating and panting and they only show her about twice, but just enough to where it says, “See?  Even she’s doing it, and she’s huge.  If you’re doing better than her, then you’ve gotta keep going.”

The next tape is going to have a chimpanzee in that same spot, kicking and punching and screeching.  “See?   A monkey can do this workout.  You can too.  That monkey isn’t giving up.  You can’t give up.  You wanna be beaten by a chimp?  I don’t think so!”

I leave for Eric’s family reunion today.  I’m on a jet plane over to meet ALL of the family.  It’s not like going to meet the parents, you know.  This time we’re talking generations of people I could potentially disappoint.  Branches and branches of people who will think, “I would have thought she’d be taller.”

I’ve never been to a family reunion.  Apparently they tried them out in my family before I was born, but it always ended up with someone going to jail.  You think I’m kidding?  I just found out this weekend that at my parent’s wedding my grandmother was dry humping the band.  I think another member of the family got thrown out for starting a fist fight.  Sometimes I sit back and thank the powers that be that my name didn’t end up being Anka “The Knuckles” Ribon. It could have been that easy, people.  You just don’t know.

I imagine that this family reunion will be much calmer, with Boche substituted for Budweiser and perhaps a nice Merlot instead of the Mary Jane.  I haven’t seen any of my family since I was a wee lass, but the stories that I keep hearing make me feel a bit better about being removed from that section of the family.  Each time I find out something about my family I am again amazed that my parents ever found each other and decided to “have a go at it.”  And the stories are always revealed in chunks, never in tiny little bite-sized, easily digestible pieces.  It’s always like:

[scripty]
MOM
I talked to Gramma yesterday.

PAMIE
Oh?  How’s she doing?

MOM
Oh, you know.  She’s dying.

PAMIE
Again?

MOM
She’s been dying for twenty years.

PAMIE
What color is her skin this time?

MOM
Yellow.

PAMIE
Ew.

MOM
Well, I found out that Aunt Gertrude just got back from the hospital.

PAMIE
Oh.

MOM
You remember her?

PAMIE
No.

MOM
She’s the one that tried to cut off Gramma’s leg with the meat cleaver the time that Gramma stole her daughter and tried to sell her to the Mob?

PAMIE
No, I don’t remember this story.

MOM
Sure you do.  Gramma was in the mob and she had started selling babies– you remember her friend Uncle Greg?

PAMIE
The guy who gave me candy?

MOM
Yeah.  Well,  he’s the one that drugged Aunt Gertrude and took her daughter– what was her name?  Oh, yeah, Franny.  He took Franny to your Gramma so that she could sell her.

PAMIE
When was this?

MOM
Oh, a long time ago.  I was young.

PAMIE
You were there?

MOM
Aunt Gertrude took the meat cleaver off the wall and started chasing your Gramma with it, but Aunt Olga stopped her with her killer dog.

PAMIE
She had a killer dog?

MOM
Well, it was sort of her husband.

PAMIE
She married a killer dog?

MOM
Well, this was a long time ago, honey, people did things differently back then.

PAMIE
So what happened to Aunt Gertrude?

MOM
Well, instead of her cutting off your Gramma’s leg the dog bit off Aunt Gertrude’s ear, and her husband…….

PAMIE
Mom?

MOM
I’m thinking.

PAMIE
What happened?

MOM
Oh, what was his name?

PAMIE
It doesn’t matter mom.  Ear.  Dog.  Keep going.

MOM
Oh… Kenny?  No, Kenny was MiMi’s husband…

PAMIE
Ma!

MOM
Tony?  I think was his name?  Tony!  That’s it.  Well, Tony was so mad at Aunt Gertrude because she was supposed to be out getting his money from his bookie instead of chasing around your Gramma that he wouldn’t take her to the hospital so she lost that ear.

PAMIE
Was the daughter fine?

MOM
Of course, honey.  She ran away and was home before Aunt Gertrude ever got there.  That’s why Tony wouldn’t fix her ear, because Franny was fine and there was no need for her to be at your Gramma’s.

PAMIE
And she was in the hospital?

MOM
Yeah.  She had pneumonia or something, but she’s fine now.

PAMIE
Except for her ear.

MOM
Except for that ear.

PAMIE
Gramma doesn’t still sell babies, does she?

MOM
No, of course not, dear.  That was during the depression, and people had to make do.

PAMIE
It was the sixties.

MOM
We were depressed.

PAMIE
Right.

MOM
She started making and selling prescription drugs right after that, and that gave her enough money to stop selling babies.

PAMIE
What happened to the guy who gave me candy?

MOM
Uncle Greg?

PAMIE
Yeah.

MOM
Well, you know your Aunt Melanie?

PAMIE
Yeah.

MOM
Yeah.

PAMIE
Huh?

MOM
That’s Greg.

PAMIE
My Aunt Melanie is my Uncle Greg?

MOM
Sometimes.  When Uncle Greg wants to be Aunt Melanie, he is.

PAMIE
I just thought they were siblings.

MOM
No, they’re the same person.  We didn’t tell you when you were little because we didn’t want to confuse you.

PAMIE
Right.

MOM
But Aunt Melanie has been sick lately, so Aunt Carol has been taking care of her.

PAMIE
How many Aunts do I have?

MOM
Three hundred and twelve.  No, I forgot about Aunt Tess, so I guess three hundred and thirteen.

PAMIE
So Gramma’s doing fine?

MOM
Well, she thinks that there’s someone living in her dog’s mouth and telling her that Dick Cavett is the Messiah, but other than that she’s doing just fine.

PAMIE
Great.

MOM
You should call her.  She’d like to hear from you.

PAMIE
I know, Mom.

MOM
Or send her a letter.

PAMIE
I know.

MOM
Of course, she probably won’t answer the phone if you call.  I have to let it ring fifty times so that she knows it’s me.

PAMIE
Right.

MOM
And she doesn’t go check her mail anymore.  Once a week or so Aunt Kathy will go out there and bring her the mail from the front porch.

PAMIE
And then everything would be outdated.

MOM
It would be a nice gesture.
[/scripty]

It’s not often that I tell family stories around new people, so I’m hoping this sort of thing doesn’t come up at the reunion.  I’m pretty confident that I can just stick to me and my immediate family.  But really, my family is full of all sorts of sordid stories.  Maybe not dog mating and baby selling, but stuff freaky enough to make your eyes widen and you say, “Oh, really?” in that way that says, “Thank God for my boring little family.”

But then, if those people weren’t really wacko, I wouldn’t be the quirky little sorta-wacko that I am.

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