Ah, the time has come. Family reunions. A love-hate relationship, I think, exists between the average person and their respective family reunion. We love our families; we hate the questions. Well, maybe you don’t, but you’d be a weirdo if you enjoyed three hours of the same four questions repeated in a hundred different ways. Knowing my family as I do, I already know the questions they’ll ask me this year, and my reaction to them.
How’s school, how’re your grades? Okay, the first part of this question I totally understand. You haven’t seen me in a year! So much can change; I might not even be going to school anymore and you wouldn’t know. (That’s a lie. We all know the aunts talk on the phone for hours and catch each other up, so you’re using this as a conversation starter more than an actual process of gathering information.) The second part of the question is entirely useless and, really, fairly irritating. I’m not likely to tell you I got a C on my last math class (hallelujah, no more math) and I don’t want to brag by saying all my major courses are As. You’ve put me in a tight spot, here, Aunt Nancy.
Figured out what to do post-graduation? Ha. Ha ha ha. Excuse me while I go cry from the stress that question brought to me, reminding me of all the shit I have to do. I have three semesters until graduation (I hear screaming in the distance, do you hear screaming?) and although I assure you I am thinking about it, I don’t want to show you how stressed I am about it. After my undergraduate, I’ll be doing a Masters program, which includes almost a year’s worth of sweat and preparation; please don’t follow that question with do you know where you want to teach? because I will probably have a stroke.
How was your study abroad? This very specific question clearly wouldn’t apply to anyone at a family reunion, but as I’ve only just returned from my study abroad, it will apply to this holiday season. And I loved my time in Chile, and I would love to talk to someone about it – the problem, though, is that they don’t really want me to talk about it. You walk a thin line between being pretentious and being a hippie when discussing your travels (“look at what I’ve done!” vs. “this changed my entire life…”), and the person asking you more likely just wants a clean, quick answer. Trouble is, no time outside your home country is clean or quick. My study abroad was phenomenal. My summary of my study abroad will be subpar.
Are you working right now? Yes. I have a job. My parents may have money, but I do not, and I need some form of income to support my caffeine addiction at school.
What’s your brother doing? This is obviously only asked if my brother isn’t here (and, sadly, he won’t be) but I’ll answer the same as I always do. He’s moved to here, he’s working with this company, dear god don’t ask me what he does because he’s a chemical engineer and I’m a literature major.
So, are you dating anyone? This is the kicker. This is the worst of the lot. There is absolutely no way to win here. If I say yes, I will be bombarded with at least a half hours’ worth of uncomfortable questions, requests to see a photo of him, following by the inevitable will we be meeting this man anytime soon?, which will of course be answered with a quick and succinct no. (No man will be brought to a family reunion without a ring on my finger.) If I say no, however, the conversation is cut short immediately. With most family members, I’ll likely receive a smile and don’t worry, you’ll meet someone (I wasn’t worried, and I know).
Is anyone else in this room sweating, or is it just me? Just me? Okay. I’m going to go get a glass of wine, now.