Uncle

Continuing with the roadtrip…I swear, I’m gonna finish this this week…

From Shamrock, Texas, where last we left off, I headed off to my uncle James (my dad’s brother, who I still call uncle Jimmy)’s house in Springfield, Missouri. In order to get there, you have to cross Oklahoma. All of it.

Oklahoma is a huge comedown from Arizona and New Mexico. It’s relatively flat, there’s not much along the highway but cows, and the scenery can’t hold a candle to the West. There’s also not as much in the way of entertaining silliness along the way that caused me to stop.

Therefore, I chose to shoot through Oklahoma at the fastest prudent speed, which was 10 miles above the posted limit.

I refer to this measure as the “real speed limit,” since most cops will not pull you over for it, because they know some dickhead going 15 miles over the limit will be coming along soon, and they’ll be able to write a much bigger ticket.

You of course have to gague how fast the other drivers on the road are going, so that if you’re in a strict-enforcement zone, you don’t get pulled over. But in most parts of the country, 10 miles over the speed limit is about right.

In metropolitan Atlanta, however, the speed limits are simply suggestions and the actual speed limit is the speed of light. Drivers there refuse to obey even the laws of physics. They’re almost as bad as Boston and Miami drivers.

Anyway, my uncle lives out on a farm about 10 miles outside of Springfield (he’s actually a pediatric cardiologist, but he and his ex-wife, Allison, ran a business breeding Arabian show horses, thus the farm). Staying with him is always entertaining because he really is an overgrown college student.

He’s 56 years old but talks about the audiophile surround sound system with gigantic plasma TV that he’s having put in his new house (he’s selling the farm) with the same glee that I talk about guitars. Which is to say, much.

He is a character. His new house is going to be gorgeous when he’s done renovating it, although he explained to me a couple of his “fabulous” design choices, like painting the dining room with bright red paint with copper flecks in it, that I would question were he not so enthusiastic about it.

I’m always amused by the fact that my dad thinks that he and I are kindred spirits, especially when he talks about design. He’ll be talking and talking and something sounds good and then he takes a turn and I’m just like, whoa, wait, you want to do what?

I’d say I’m probably a lot more similar to him than I am to a lot of my other relatives, especially on my dad’s side. We’re both horribly obsessed with music (he burned me a copy of The Eminem Show on his new IMac with a burner that he thinks is the Greatest. Thing. Ever., which is fun) and have a fairly similar sense of humor.

It was kind of funny when I was flirting with the incredibly cute chef at the Benihana-type restaurant we went to (although since this was southwestern Missouri, I think she probably thought I was just being nice), and I could tell he was jealous that I got to do this.

When she left, he muttered, “I wish I was young again.” I told him it’s probably not the daze of wine and roses he remembers. Or, more than likely, doesn’t, since he was a big ol’ hippie back in the late ’60’s, and did copious amounts of drugs.

But still, being young is not exactly the giant swath of happiness he likely remembers it as. People have very selective memories as they age, and they tend to remember only the extremes: Extreme happiness, extreme pain, etc.

I don’t think he wants to go back to pulling 36-hour shifts as an intern again, go back to doing nothing but scut work and going through the MCAT’s again. He wants to get back the thrill of saying “I’m a medical student” or “I’m a doctor” for the first time.

Perhaps I’m projecting, but I felt like shaking him and saying, “Are you nuts?!”

The funniest part was that my dad turned to each of us for a report on the other. He has a hard time getting Jimmy to tell him anything other than, “Oh, I’m fine. Not much going on,” which is occasionally a problem with me as well.

So he told me when I called him to let him know I had arrived in one piece (a daily ritual throughout this trip to calm SeƱor Paranoia), he told me to get the dirt on what was going on with Jimmy.

He then made the dumb mistake of telling me he was going to ask Jimmy for a report on me. I was like, dad, don’t tell me that if you actually want to know anything. Now I know not to tell Jimmy anything really gossipy!

Of course, that would be more of a concern if there was anything really gossipy going on in my life. I finally came out to him (before I hit on the chef), and he was, of course, not terribly surprised. Probably partly because his Allison (who knew) told him, although I couldn’t confirm that suspicion.

However, my dad already knows about that minor detail of my life, so no biggie.

Anyway, it was fun visiting him, and I did feel a bit guilty after leaving, since I hadn’t talked to him in quite some time before that, and I really don’t talk to my entire extended family all that much in the first place.

So I guess now I’ve got another thing for my “List Of Things I Need To Get Off My Ass And Do…”

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