Sunday, February 26, 2012

Honorary Uncles

Uncle Joey was an honorary uncle.  He was Danny's brother from another mother.

My father was an only child.  As such you would think that I didn't have many aunts and uncles growing up, only those allotted biologically from my mother's side of the family.  But, you'd be wrong in that thinking. 

My father was a great believer in using aunt and uncle as honorary titles for all of his brothers from other mothers and sisters from other misters.  He created a rather large friendamily for himself, long before the word to describe what he had made came into existence.  In fact, I had more uncles on my dad's side than my mom's side.

There's my Uncle Jim, who was my dad's childhood best friend.  He married my Aunt Debbie at age 19 and still hasn't spent a night away from her in all of the forty plus years since then.  From Uncle Jim and Aunt Debbie, I even have four psuedo-grandparents and two psuedo-cousins: little Jimmy ,who is over six feet tall now, and Jenny , who was my first and last Katy Perry "I Kissed A Girl" moment.  Both of our mothers have the moment immortalized in family scrapbooks.  We were three years old at the time, you perverts, get your mynds out of the gutter. 

Old Bay, crab mallets, and melted butter
Ahh, the memories!
There are my Uncles Glenn and Pete.  They taught with my dad at Northwestern High School for twenty plus years.  I've mentioned Uncle Glenn in a previous post for his dedicated assistance in my fifth grade science fair victory, but Uncle Pete was also an integral part of the extended family.  He threw legendary end of the school year parties, known as the Crab Feasts.  It was there that I learned how to pick crabs (though after dad told me what crab mustard was I never ate them), how to go bobbing for beer cans when my dad or one of the uncles would send me over to the thirty gallon trash can to get them a beer, and how to play horse shoes, volleyball, and badminton in the back yard. 

Both uncles swear my father nearly got them killed in an incident that has become known as "I Could've Beat That Train!".  The story goes that one day, when it was his turn to drive the carpool car, Dad was driving the back roads between Hyattsville and Bowie trying to avoid Route 50 traffic.  Off in the distance, the carpooolers heard a train whistle.  To a normal human, this sound would just mean that you were within a few miles of some train tracks.  But to Dad, this meant that the MARC train was getting close to the railroad crossing on Old Chapel Road and if he didn't beat in there he would have to sit for five minutes waiting for the train to pass. 

Maybe he'd had a bad day at work, maybe there was a special dinner planned for that night that he didn't want to miss, maybe he suddenly felt like he had super powers, no one knows, but for some reason the idea of sitting at the train crossing that day was intolerable to my father.  He stomped on the gas pedal til it hit the floor, called over to his passengers, "I'm gonna beat that train.", and began racing down Highbridge Road at speeds that the PG County police would surely have ticketed him for had they seen him.  My uncles are telling him to stop playing around, he's not funny, etc. when they realize that he's dead serious.  Dad is now driving 90 miles an hour down Highbridge Road, running parallel to the train tracks and according to Uncle Glenn, driving next to the train. 

The uncles are screaming, they're yelling, they're pleading for their lives.  Uncle Pete is trying to pry my dad's fingers off the steering wheel and Uncle Glenn has a grip on his pant leg, trying to pry his foot off the gas pedal.  The train and Dad are running neck and neck.  Turning wildly from Highbridge onto Old Chapel Road, Uncle Glenn succeeded in getting Dad's foot off the gas pedal, just fifty yards from the crossing where the lights were blinking and the railroad barriers were coming down.  Dad slowed to a stop, the train went by, my uncles cursed him out, and all Dad could say was, "I could've beat that train!"

Last, but certainly not least, there was Uncle Jerry.  Uncle Jerry was married to my Aunt Sherry and they had two kids, Barry and Terry.  I kid you not, those were there real names.  Aunt Sherry and my dad taught together at Charles Carroll Middle School and through one of the school's holiday parties my dad and Uncle Jerry got one of the most original "how we met" stories I've ever heard. 

At the faculty Christmas party one year, (It was the seventies and political correctness had not been invented yet to turn it into a holiday party.)  Aunt Sherry suckered my father, a new teacher, into dressing up as Santa Claus for the kids.  This was funny because Aunt Sherry and Uncle Jerry are Jewish.  But they were the fun, unorthodox kind of Jews that threw up a "Hannukah Bush" in there living room every December that looked remarkably like a Christmas tree.  But, I digress.  Look a squirrel just ran up the inside of the Hannukah bush!

Effectively browbeat into taking on the role of Jolly Old Saint Nick, my dad trudged down to the basement of Jerry and Sherry's spilt level house to put on the costume.  Now whether it was a general lack of modesty on his part or a sufficient amount of alcoholic libation, probably the latter, my father chose to forgo stepping into the downstairs bathroom and stripped in the darkened game room.  And that is where Uncle Jerry found him, tipsy and pantless, partially dressed in a Santa suit when he came home from work. 

From here accounts vary,  Aunt Sherry always said that Uncle Jerry thought she and my Dad had been fooling around (like she would do that with a house full of drunken teachers upstairs). 

This is not what it looked like when Uncle Jerry walked in the room.
Uncle Jerry told the story that he came home to find a half naked Santa in his basement and assumed a homeless pervert had broken into the house (again, with a house full of people upstairs?) and my Dad told it that Uncle Jerry came in while Dad's pants were around his ankles and Dad shuffled over and introduced himself and tried to shake Uncle Jerry's hand. 
probably a little closer to reality

Either way, all stories agree that Jerry screamed, Dad tried to back up and tripped over an ottoman thus hitting the floor, and Aunt Sherry and countless other co-workers raced in to find a red faced Jerry standing menacingly over my pantless father. 

These are the stories on which life-long friendships are based.

Are you an honorary relative? Have a brother from another mother?
I'd love to hear about it.


  1. Does this mean you're going to tell our story? With the inception of your blog, I have a virtual wall to forever leave you notes. Don't forget the sour cream ;)

    1. It started out as a blog about my honorary aunt status with a few munchkins you know and a few you don't. I started writing about how my dad had given me some honorary uncles as a kid and before I knew it I had a two to three part series of blogs going about honorary relatives. Think of this as Part One - Honorary Relatives Past.

  2. Haha, can't wait until you get to the most recent 'Aunt' story!


  3. I am an honorary Uncle to the Mynd's children. And an honorary brother to both Mr. and Mrs. Mynd. (That sounded kinda West Virginiaish...) Plus I am a real Uncle to two nephews and a niece, all of whom are mostly good kids and all of whom I see too little.

    1. See my next blog. We have an honorary neice in common now. It is kinda West Virginiaish that you are both of their brothers and they're married. Do I hear a banjo being strummed in the distance?

    2. I think I DO hear banjos... MUST ROW FASTER!!! And I already read about MSP crowned you. 8-)

      (Should I tell the teacher that her grammar isn't correct? Would she get overly angry at me? I better play it safe and say nothing... What, this wasn't my inner monologue? Nuts!)

    3. Okay, now you have to tell me where the grammatical error is or I will spend the rest of the night proofreading til I find it. Was it in the comment with "both of their brothers" or in the blog itself?

    4. It didn't take you long to find it, as it was the comment.

      Please don't make me go all ninja to avoid your Bailey's assault for that, though.