It’s still fresh in my mind, so the vacation I went on a few weeks ago is the most memorable vacation I’ve ever experienced. I visited Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks. These are two of the most beautiful parks in our country, possessing a profound pulchritude that is hard to forget.
But even more beautiful were the characters who accompanied me on my peregrination through these natural wonders. Of course my wife, Kay Yak Gnu, was by my side, as usual. But we also had a family reunion with my brother, Rowan Waters Gnu, his wife Connie Tipples Gnu, and my grand nephew, Wiley Cody Gnu, Jr.
We formed a jolly group of five, and I’m planning some posts about our fun times, touring these parks. So I think it’s only polite that I introduce you to each one of the unforgettable characters that helped make my vacation so memorable.
First I’ll introduce you to my wife, Kay. But if you’ve been following my blog for awhile, an introduction is probably not necessary, since I have a tendency to mention her now and then.
I’ve loved Kay for about 28 years now. If you see Kay, you’d know why. She’s a beauty, of Mongolian ancestry. She can be sweet as a deep-fried dumpling, and as sour as plain yogurt. And she keeps me in line. Or at least, she tries.
Kay is a guilt queen with a long memory. She remembers all the awful things I’ve done, going back decades ago. Shit I’ve forgotten about long past, until she stimulates my engrams with an unflattering anecdote. She frequently uses these memories like arrows in a quiver, to shoot me down and remind me and the rest of the world what a total asshole I am.
And now, meet my brother Rowan. He’s a tax professional, who owns a big tax preparation firm in a middle-sized city. Growing up, he always struggled in school, and finally dropped out of the 11th grade. But now this dipwad is an Enrolled Agent who can represent clients before the IRS, whenever they are audited. Kind of scary, huh?
Rowan may be a tax pro by trade, but he’s a standup comedian by habit. He thinks quick on his feet, and constantly bombards everyone with rapid-fire quips and hilarities.
I’m the opposite. I think on my ass, and after much reflection, pondering, and pounding my forehead with my fist, I hesitatingly peck something out on my keyboard that I think might be humorous. If my brother sees it and agrees that it’s funny, he shamelessly steals it. Just like you’d expect from a typical comedian.
But Rowan can’t write worth a damn. I’m not even sure he can spell the word “spell”. I was the scholastic one. He was the fucking flunky who couldn’t make it through school. And now he’s a rich-assed tax pro. How the hell he ever found himself in this lucrative position still bewilders me. But I suspect he may have gotten some persistent coaching and help from Connie.
Connie is my sister-in-law. And just like my wife Kay, she’s the conscience of her family, who uses guilt to try to keep Rowan in line and save my brother from perdition.
She and my brother have four grown, adult kids. And she makes sure they do everything they can for these grown adults. Rowan and Connie are wealthy from their tax business, yet Connie may just drive their finances to the point of bankruptcy, with all the cossetting and handouts that go to their children.
Connie manages the tax office, and is my brother’s boss. But he makes more money than she, and constantly reminds her of that fact. But no matter. Their grown, adult kids are getting it all.
Wiley Jr. is the son of my nephew, Wiley Sr. And Wiley Sr. is my brother’s youngest son. Senior went through medical school, partly with help from his parents and wife. After Senior completed his residency and became a full-fledged doctor, he promptly got a divorce. After eight years, he’s now on his third wife.
But Wiley Jr. is the one who accompanied me on this vacation, having been flown out special by his doting grandparents, so that he could experience Yellowstone. After all, no child should be deprived of the experience of Yellowstone.
Junior takes after his father. He is smart, well-mannered, and cunning as a coyote. He works as a barista for Starbucks, pushing the coffee poison on people. That alone should tell you something about his character.
Right now he’s in his third year of college, studying to be a CPA. After he graduates, my brother and sister-in-law are contemplating retiring, and giving the tax business to him. The same tax business that cost them $600,000 to buy. Because grandchildren are just as special and needy as regular children.
These four characters, Kay, Rowan, Connie, and Wiley Jr., shared the adventure of Yellowstone and Grand Teton with me. You may have made your own judgments about them, based upon my descriptions. I know I have my own judgments. But I love them, even for all the flaws I perceive.
Everyone is their own unique character. Each person must be met on their own terms. Because we can’t change them, and to try only stirs up hostility and throws a wet blanket on a fun party.
The best we can do is tolerate the flaws of the characters we know, and admire and enjoy their good qualities. But even in admiration, we must avoid trying to be like them. We must make them meet us on our own terms, and embrace our own uniqueness, as we embrace theirs.
When no one tries to change each other, a good time can be had by all. And a good time is what we five characters had, deep in America’s wilderness.