The Flowers and the Fartersons

Today my brother-in-law invited me to celebrate the Fourth with his family. I had a previous engagement, but even if I hadn't, I would most likely have declined. "Nobody should be alone on the Fourth," he declared, but I'm okay with it. Faced with a choice between watching infomercials all day or making small talk with people I don't know, for me, it's really a no brainer.

See, I don't quite feel comfortable with BiL's family. It's not that they're horrible people; on the contrary. They are extremely kind, compassionate, generous ... in short, they're everything the Flowers are not (as I mentioned in my toast during the wedding reception).

Let me break it down further:

While my sister Joon and I were growing up, my family would do fun things like correct each other's grammar, point out lapses in etiquette, and read books. It was a quiet but idyllic existence. For several years we didn't even have a television. Because we moved around a lot, due to my father's job, Joon and I were quite close, as we were both excrutiatingly shy. We would happily while away the hours by playing school, dressing Barbies, or brushing each other's hair. We could have fit in the Little House on the Prairie with few discernable changes.

Though my dad was a military man, Joon and I were quiet peaceful types. We took naps every day, as instructed, and we played on our metal swingset in front of the trailer. We never played Soldiers, or Cowboys & Indians, although sometimes we would pretend we were in the A-Team. We were perfect.

Meanwhile, in another part of the country, the Farterson boys were jumping on beds, pretending to kill each other, and peeing with one hand. In old home movies, family members routinely flip each other off. Raucous laughter is common in their household, and my BiL Mr. Joon can turn any phrase into something dirty. The Fartersons took lots of vacations, during which the boys were allowed to jump on hotel beds (the Flower girls were not). There was in general lots of rough-housing and sibling-induced injuries, and probably the family gathered around a full toilet to enjoy the masterpiece of its most recent artist.

When I consider the beginning of Joon and MJ's courtship, my mind goes directly to the Fart Machine. This delightful contraption is a remote controlled bundle of gas, which causes six-year-olds and fifty-six-year-olds both to cackle with glee. It belongs to MJ's mother.

Don't get me wrong: we Flowers enjoy a good Passing of the Gas. We laugh uproariously when Joon's dog rips one and then looks behind her as though to say, "Who did that?" (which is, coincidentally, Joon's typical reaction). Joon herself has meticulously dissected the scene in Dumb and Dumber when Jeff Daniels is the victim of a Laxative Assault, down to the last sound. Every birthday celebration involves at least one Hallmark card that makes a sound like a toilet flushing.

It just seems that the Fartersons go beyond even the Flowers' abilities. And we Flowers don't like coming in second at ANYTHING. So I am not about to attend any Farterson Family Gathering, wherein I would be sure to have to play Frisbee Golf, eat catfish, and try to light a bonfire with my butt.

I think, now that I'm almost thirty, I am above that kind of stuff.

But Joon is only twenty-seven, and as she is now a Farterson herself, will conduct herself appropriately. Because that girl can puff the sheets up with her "indiscretions," and I speak from experience. After all, her dog had to learn from someone.

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