Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Petit Jean and more.

For the last 23 or so years, my father's parents, his siblings, and all their kids have met for 3 days on top of a "mountain" in Arkasas for a little family reunion. I know that for some people family reunions aren't exactly synonomous with fun, but this one definitely is. This is one of the highlights of my year.

You wouldn't think there would be a whole lot to do on top of a mountain in Arkansas, but in fact, there is. Every year, we hike down to the 'falls', which is about a mile hike down the mountain. Although they tell me it is only a mile hike back up the mountain (since we use the same trail), I think spacetime somehow gets warped and turns the trail into 10 miles. If only that power could be harnessed for good...

There are also lots of other trails, but none of them are quite as interesting to the untrained eye. We also play a lot of games, such as frisby golf, real golf, Monopoly, Risk, and dominos. Here is where it gets interesting. You see, my Dad's side of the family is big into games, such as dominos, but they don't like the traditional stuff. So, every year someone comes to Petit Jean with a new way of playing dominos. Now, I have a big book of domino games, and am familiar with quite a few, and know enough others to be dangerous, and I swear that these new domino games are completely made up. Most of them don't even make any sense. Here is a typical conversation around one of these "new" domino games:
"Okay, Ben just put down a double four. You can now put down anything that adds to that double four to make 12."
"I thought you said earlier that it always had to sum to multiples of 5."
"Yeah, but that's only unless someone puts down the double four, and then the rules change."
"Oh, so after I play the rule goes back to multiples of 5?"
"Uh...yeah."
"What if someone plays on the other side of the double four?"
Long Pause
"Uh...then it is...uh...then it has to sum to 13."

You get the picture. But on games where you can't fudge the rules, like Risk, there is more yelling and shouting than is usually present when Southern Baptist Preachers watch Dallas football. It's unbelievable.

But the really fun part is getting to know family again. It is here that I really begin to understand the tribe mentality - you all belong to each other. Sometimes that's frustrating, but it keeps you honest. You can't hide your history from your family - they've been there all along and know it all. They might not understand it all, and at times they think they know better than you, but I love them anyway. Long after my blog disappears and all my other friends die, that blood will be the thing that takes care of me until I, too, bite it.

And then when we're all resurrected at the end of time, and my uncle comes up with a "new" game of dominos, I'll be there, smiling to myself as the absurdity of it all unfolds.

9 comments:

Jessica said...

oh, ben, being from a gaming family such as yours (only dominoes and cards are played in mine), i can understand the sweet memories and the absurdity of it all. in my family, proper game etiquette trumps all other issues.

and, you're right, as crazy as family can be, there's an endearing everlasting quality that makes you miss them when you don't get to see them all that often. i'm glad you got to spend time with them--even if you did have to travel to the awful state of arkansas!

alethia said...

sounds like fun. we are big cards and dominoes fans too. what is up w/ all these so. baptists playing cards? btw, your picture didn't come through....

Stacy said...

that large blank box where the picture is supposed to be is bugging me...can you fix that??? only my dad's side of the family has family reunions but no games are played and we don't have to go anymore. and the conversation usually involves who got arrested this year and who fathered yet another child this year or who married someone they met in rehab...

lorri said...

yeah.... seriously. let's see the picture.

Benjamin said...

I'm working on it, okay!

(BTW, the picture looks fine to me. I'm not sure I'll know if it gets fixed, since it always looks okay to me.)

Sigh, I guess getting comments from the picture nazis are better than no comments at all...

Benjamin said...

Now the pic should be fixed. Of course, it never looked broken to me, so you'll need to tell me if you can see it now.

Stacy said...

yay! it's fixed. much better. i can sleep at night now. good to know peer pressure still works...

the other picture nazi said...

looks good kid!

Catherine said...

Oh, the joys of Petit Jean! Made even sweeter now by precious Madelyn. I am so proud to be in your family and part of the madness! Do you really mean to say that we don't play dominos by the rules? I'm sad there was no "shout out" to mafia, the current obsession-