10 Valid Reasons for Placing an Underperforming Friend or Relative on Administrative Probation

Editor’s Note: I found this delightful little rant in the archives whilst looking for something else entirely, which is essentially how my life works. I don’t know what was in my craw back on this day, but it apparently had an aroma of bitterness. Enjoy…


1. The Phone Calls.

Why must you call me constantly like that? We just spoke two hours ago, which means you’re probably still wearing the same outfit and therefore our conversation will be limited. I know that nothing exciting has happened to you, because nothing ever does, even though you insist on talking about it. Here’s a handy guideline: If whatever you’re doing has not attracted the attention of a TV news reporter, don’t call me.

And that tracking device you apparently have, the one that signals you to call me at the precise moment when I am sitting down to watch “Downton Abbey”? Take a hammer and smash it, then burn the pieces. Yes, I have a DVR and I know that I can pause the show. That doesn’t matter. Just text me. So I can ignore it.

2. The Refusal to Listen to Me about Food

I don’t like okra. Let me try that another way: I don’t like okra. One more time: I don’t like okra. Would you stop making dishes that have okra and bringing them to my house? I’m not going to eat it. The second you turn your back, it’s in the trash. I have been telling you this for 50 years. Jesus, Mary and Jose Canseco.

Oh, while we’re at it. My partner? The one you’ve known for almost two decades now? He doesn’t like seafood. ANY kind of seafood. Never has, never will. Just because you might give it a fancy name or use a concealing sauce, it’s still seafood. Leave it at home, and don’t even mention it when you’re in my house. And stop suggesting “Red Lobster” every time we go out to eat. We can’t do that. What do you not understand? God.

3. The Great Holiday Travel Debate

Seriously, I really don’t care where we meet for Thanksgiving. Your house, my house, Jupiter. Doesn’t matter. What I do care about? Making a decision. Can we do that? Like today. Stop with the nightly conference calls where we all analyze every possible reaction by every known relative to each suggested scenario. This year, I just want you to call me, plainly say the name of the selected location, and then hang up. Wait, scratch that. Just text me. Two words or less. If you can’t get it down to two words, pick somewhere else for us to go.

4. The Evil and Vindictive Photo Albums

Why do you have old pictures of me looking like that? I was clearly not amused then and I’m certainly not now. The mere fact that you would hang on to these hated relics means that you wish me personal harm. There’s no other explanation. I don’t have anything in my archives that would cause you distress, and even if I did, I wouldn’t tell you about it or parade those things in front of other people. This is the difference between you and me. I just want people to leave me alone. You want to psychologically scar them.

5. The Tragic Personal Stories That Won’t Die

I don’t find anecdotes about my troubled childhood to be amusing. I was miserable, awkward and had no sense of fashion. Why must you share these tales with everybody you ever meet? They can’t possibly care, they barely know you, let alone me. If you just can’t help yourself, try to at least go with something light and charming, wherein I rode my first bike or rescued a bunny. Stop going directly for the sordid accounts that cause listeners to think “oh my GOD that boy was one geeky freak”. This does not help me with my self-confidence therapy. Or the inspiration to ever speak to you again.

6. The Way You Decorate Your House

How is it that we grew up in the same family and yet turned out so differently? Seriously, what happened when that makes you think that the things you put on your wall are okay? This is why I lie to people who see me coming from your house. I tell them I’m doing social work.

7. The Christmas Presents You Pick Out for Me

See #6. If you like it, I probably won’t. Go with that.

8. The TV Shows You Watch

If the wrestlers have to wear costumes and fake names, it’s not real. If “reality programming” is in the description, it’s probably totally scripted and not real. If it’s on Fox News, it’s most likely not real. (I think they get the weather right every once in a while.) If a woman is buffing a muscle car while wearing a bikini, the breasts are not real. If any member of the Trump or Kardashian families is involved in any way, it’s not real. Are you seeing a pattern here?

9. The Way You Act in Restaurants

I understand that gas bubbles can be painful. However, there are discreet ways to remedy this situation, and none of these methods include sharing trumpeting body noises with the rest of the innocent folks waiting for a table at “Olive Garden”. Likewise, whilst at that table, swallow your food before sharing yet another inane detail of your life. And stop stirring your iced tea with your fingers. I know you didn’t learn that from me. The dang glass comes with its own spoon. Use it.

10. Your Misunderstanding About the Visiting Policy at My House

This is not a church. My door is not always open. It’s usually firmly closed, and double-locked. Do not show up at my house unannounced. If you do so, prepare for possible humiliation and dissatisfaction. Do not prepare to be let in. I love you all very much. I love you even more when you stay away long enough for me to actually miss you. Cheers.


Previously published in “The Sound and the Fury” and “Bonnywood Manor”. Minimally revised and updated with extra flair for this post. And for the record, I do actually like okra, I just picked a food item that many find a bit slimy, as we all have our quibbles about certain ingredients.

And yes, I’m in both of those photos. The first is of me apparently channeling Dale Evans and wishing Buttermilk the Horse would show up and carry me away from late 60s family hell. And in the second, I’m working on a story for “The Tee Pee Press” (not kidding about that name), the newspaper for my middle school. Clearly, I should have been working on my obnoxious hair or reupholstering that wretched couch. Sigh.


33 replies »

  1. You were cute! Never mind the big hair. Everyone had that, or tried to. That sofa though? I might have trouble sleeping.

    As to the obnoxious family members, retaliate. Bring a jellied tuna salad, call and text incessantly during the game to talk about how hard you find it to make decisions, and dig out old, unflattering relative photos and turn them into tree ornaments. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Trust, I plot revenge on a daily basis. Of course, most of my vindictive thoughts never lead to actual, physical completion of said envisioned acts, but they give me solace.

      I’m very intrigued by the ornament angle, though. I might have to get busy in the next few days… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I dont answer my front door unless I’ve ordered food. Period.
    I dont answer my phone unless it’s one of my daughters or Ben’s school calling.
    That couch is pretty bad🙈 right up there with the avocado colored appliances and the orange/red or blue/green shag carpets.
    It’s no wonder we had traumatic childhoods, even leaving aside the psychological darts shot daily…😱

    Liked by 2 people

    • This is further confirmation that we live on the same cosmic plane. This may not be a good thing in the end, but we’ll embrace it for now…

      I think any of us who survived the horror of 70s design without becoming a sociopath should be given an award, preferably one involving a generous monthly stipend to ease our pain…

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I was going to say you were totally hot (although that phrase was never used in my generation, which includes yours), but then the comment about how you loathed both pictures was floated out there and… well we all overshare. I actually got the skinny (another phrase that wasn’t used until I was well past the age of actually using it) from my nephew-in-law and my sister-in-law that they get a bit tired of the old horror stories that my siblings and I float out almost every time the three of us are together. And you may have explained why one of the three of us won’t come visit for any length of time. It was HIS wife that did the sharing…. 😐 Also, my gay-dar was always a shade off plumb, and I always found gay men irresistible. I’m pretty sure numbers 1 and 10 were written for such as I. Although I DO call before showing up. Because my feelings about that and yours are exactly the same. People rarely drop in any more as a result. I’m gratified and in a much better mood because of that. 😛

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, regardless of the possible anachronism of “hot”, you know it quietly thrills me when you tip your hat in the direction. A little platonic admiration never hurt anyone. And really, I suppose I must have SOME affinity for the photos, as I’m the one who chose those two out of many boxes of possibilities. Perhaps I doth protest too much…

      I’m also guilty of over-sharing anecdotes from the past, despite my grievances about other family members who do so. In fact, I’ve given the oldest of my sisters permission to stop me in my tracks when I start repeating, because I don’t want to become THAT person. Even though I already am…

      And that gay-dar thing? I used to be quite precise with my estimations. But in these modern times, where the youngsters are all about making things fluid and indefinite? My ancient GPS is in sore need of a software upgrade…


  4. Absolutely! Especially the Holiday Travel Debate–we spend more time on the damn road getting to people’s houses than we do at their actual houses! And stop treating the waitress like crap just because you like to lord it over other people, auntie!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. This is a wonderful rant! BUT, why is it considered impressive when men do it and hormonal when women go on a tirade? Not fair!
    Took care of the phone problem by leaving it permanently off. People know I can’t be interrupted when writing. Once a thought process is derailed, it’s gone.
    And like Lynette, I think you were cute.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hmm. It seems like you might be hinting that I am taking advantage of my gender status. I’ll counter-point such by saying that, since I’m gay, I really represent both sides of the spectrum. (Of course, I fully understand what you are saying, because it is, indeed, a ridiculous truism.)

      Now, this phone thing. I’ve finally managed to get most of my friends, relatives and past-lovers to stop calling me all the time. (Okay, maybe that third mention is a bit of validation-seeking whimsy.) They mostly text, which, I have subsequently learned, allows them to share important information, in a permanent record on my phone, that I could have avoided being aware of if I had simply just ignored their phone call. Now I don’t have excuses when events occur where my participation is expected, as I can no longer claim that “I didn’t know”. Modern technology is evil…

      Liked by 1 person

  6. 1. Not a problem for me. No one calls me…except for the scammers trying to sell me an extended warranty on my car, mortgage life insurance, or telling me that there are “several charges pressed against me for failing to pay my income taxes.”
    2. I love okra, although it is a bit like eating a piece of snot. Seafood? The only seafood I eat is flounder. I’ve never had a shrimp (my sister said it was like chewing on somebody’s finger.) I’ve never had a piece of lobster or a clam or a mussel or a crab leg. C’mon. That shit is nasty! It comes from the ocean…full of pee-pee and poo-poo from various and assundry critters (humans included.)
    3. Again…not a problem for me. Everyone spends the holidays with POS and his tramp.
    4. People have picture albums? I actually found three of those things in my mama’s attic. Two were full of pictures of my sisters. One was full of pictures of my brother. Curiously…there were no pictures of me. (Did I look like a crack-whore or something?)
    5. Um…
    6. Solve that problem very quickly. Become a hoarder. They can’t criticize what they can’t see. You know…you can’t see for lookin’?
    7. I’ll never forget the present I got from POS in ’12. (Sure wish I had my gun then.)
    8. It’s my television and I watch what I want to watch. Don’t even think about mentioning the fucking Kardashians or dancing with the fucking stars, or I’ll get my aforementioned gun and we’ll create a show called, “Mass Murder on Main Street.”
    9. Bwahahahaha! I used to have to endure the gas-passing and open-mouth talking from my ex monster-in-law. Even worse, she would steal the plates, flatware, glasses and salt and pepper cellars. What a peach she was. Wait! Was she here? I can’t find my bowls.
    10. Again. Bwahahahaha! To get anyone to show up at my house, I had to offer to buy them dinner, or lunch or…something. Ah. The joy of being dismissed…and having a few extra dollars.

    Liked by 1 person

    • My responses to your responses…

      1. I’m going to pretend that I know nothing about your non-payment of taxes. This conversation never happened.

      2. May I humbly suggest that, at some point, you try a chunk of freshly-steamed lobster, drenched in butter? Your life will change.

      3. This just adds to my theorem that the wrong people are always in charge of travel plans.

      4. Okay, let’s look at it this way: Perhaps there are no pictures of you because no camera could adequately capture your glory. (Just run with it and don’t fuss.)

      5. Okay, I’ll let this one go by without any real comment, since you did as well…

      6. Sadly, I think I’m already a borderline-hoarder. I have more unread books in this house than there are people in Montana…

      7. I think you’ve mention this one before. Please don’t shoot my just because I brought it up… 😉

      8. I might become your partner in crime with this one. It would be fun to tag-team, but we might have to run really fast after we’ve done what we’ve done, and I might not be so good at that…

      9. Actually, I’m the one who took the bowls. It’s a long story, but I did it for your own good, swear…

      10. Don’t be surprised if I knock on your door someday. Partly because I would love to meet you, and partly because I’m feeling guilty about swiping your bowls…

      Liked by 2 people

      • These are hilarious! You can knock on my door any time you wish…and bring my bowls back. There’s a story here. I used to eat out of china. I had high fa-looting china and casual china but I sold/gave it all away. (I know…snooty.) One night I decided I wanted some grits…but I didn’t have a microwavable bowl. I had to go out and buy one. A week later, I bought two more. You never know when someone might knock on your door and want to share a bowl of grits! Bwahahahahaha!

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Oh my God, so we ARE related! This is proof – we have the same obnoxious relative – with questionable decorating sense, an obsession with Red Lobster and all!
    I solved the problem by moving to Minnesota. Wanna come over cousin? I’ve got an extra room.

    Liked by 1 person

    • In my fevered dreams, I am already in your extra room. We’ll read the same books at the same time so we can analyze and compare, watch all the critically-acclaimed TV shows that we know we should be watching yet haven’t gotten around to it, check out local plays here and there, and spend large chunks of time not saying a word but simply enjoying the non-verbal time together…

      Liked by 1 person

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