Tuesday, March 08, 2005

You Know That Sunday Comic Strip 'The Family Circus'?

No. No. No. Wrong metaphor for life as it actually takes place. (And so sentimental. Grandpa in heaven looking down just makes me want to puke.)

Let me suggest instead 'The Family Amusement Park,' since the self-infliction of nausea is more characteristic of family life. I am thinking this because I am thinking about my wife's family. No disrespect to my wife's family. When it comes to family, I meet her bid of one neurotic and raise her two lunatics and one megalomaniac. It is just that the recent illness of her mother -- and thank you; she's better -- naturally focuses my attention on my wife and her sisters and how they relate.

The question is given my mother-in-law's illness does my wife drop everything and fly across country? If she thought her mother was dying, certainly. If she thought that no one on scene was capable of conferring with her mother's physicians, making good decisions, reassuring her mother and handling all the logistics of chronic but not immediately life-threatening disease, certainly.

But just because she might feel the powerful need to see her mom, well maybe not. See, two of my wife's sisters are on the job and seem to be managing the situation quite well. My wife's sudden presence -- she concludes and I agree -- might be seen as a criticism of them.

Now we return to 'The Family Amusement Park.' If I were to offer a metaphor for my wife and her three sisters, it would not be four planets orbiting around her mother, each sister in her own clearly defined orbit. Instead, it would be four bumper cars racing around and around the floor, jostling and crashing. My wife would be the bumper car going twice the distance and exerting four times the effort, trying to prevent the other three bumper cars from slamming into one another. Her bumper car would be constantly interposing itself between sistercars, absorbing the blows. She is quite unconcerned about being slammed into herself. It takes a great deal of provocation to get a slamback out of her. But sometimes she does with me cheering her on from the vicinity of the popcorn stand.

I could go on and on describing the intricacies of these maneuvers within a larger apparently chaotic pattern that is actually as regular as if it flowed down ancient river beds. I doubt I need to, not to you, my readers, who as far as I can tell are all card-carrying members of the human species with all the rights and privileges pertaining thereto.

There are many rides in this particular amusement park, and all of us have ridden more than one of them more than once until we felt as if our stomach were ready to come exploding out our ears.

1 comment:

G Pabst said...

I once read a critique of "The Family Circus" that went something like this:

It's comforting, really, that "The Family Circus" is there every day, top right hand corner of the comics page. Every day, irrepressibly sucking. Nothing like consistancy to dupe you into thinking that someone's in charge and everything is under control.