This week, I called my parents for the once-a-quarter checkin. Actually, it's been almost double that lately, which is frankly pretty remarkable for my family. I mean, you have to remember who we're dealing with here.
After the obligatory goat update, I asked about the rest of the family. Even though my mother is nearly as distant from her siblings as I am from my own immediate family, she still has a better link than I do into the latest scoop on what's what in Hatfield & McCoy look-alikes that make up our extended clan. And I like to try and keep up with happenings, as I have a co-worker in California who has a similarly colored family. We like to exchange stories in a kind of competition to see who is most likely to end up on Jerry Springer.
I eventually asked how my nephew was doing.
"Well, we wrote to him, but I'm not sure if our letter got there. We think he's been moved to a different prison."
"A different prison?"
"Oh, you didn't know?"
The eldest son (now 24) of my aforementioned sister has been in and out of jail for a while now. We've never thought of him as criminally degenerate, just not particularly bright. For example, after he made the decision to drop out of high school at 16 to move into a trailer with his girlfriend named (and I am not making this up) "Mitsy," he formed a master plan to use his salary from Taco Bell to save up enough to go to technical classes and become a web designer. Did I mention that he lives in Mineral Bluff, Georgia? I'm not sure if you've been keeping up on the web-designing job market in the Appalachian foothills of North Georgia lately, but it never did take off the way he thought it might.
The not-bright part in the above story was not that he dropped out of school, or that he was dating a beauty-school reject named Mitsy (who told me that she was either going to go to college and become a registered nurse or maybe take some classes at the local Y and become a massage therapist - she hadn't decided), no - his dim moment came when he decided that he should call me and enlist my support for this move. It's expected in my family that everyone will choose a side in every situation; that way we know whose food to burn or oversalt at holiday gatherings. I explained this to my Bride at our first family Christmas. I also explained to her that she should do what I do in these situations, and explain that my familial love and duty require me to tell them all to piss off without prejudice or preference.
Anyway, my nephew moved on from Mitsy to one petty crime or another, and ended up in jail. He was paroled or on probation or some such before long, but apparently really liked the jail life, because he violated parole (the way I understand the story, he didn't actually steal the car radio - that was his buddy. The car they chose to steal from, however, was sitting in the sheriff's impound lot at the time. Do not pass Go, do not collect $200.)
We're not sure exactly what he did to end up in jail this time. I may end up calling the courthouse to find out. After all, I need to be clear on the details for my coworker.
I think I may be winning now.