Disclaimer: Let it be known that this has nothing to do with my relatives. Those guys are awesome! (Oh, and if you don’t enjoy reading words, click here to skip ahead to the pictorial guide)
It’s that time of year again, when bundles of joy are placed beneath the tree, then later remembered and transferred to their cribs, when mice stop stirring throughout the house in adherence to the laws of Christmas, and when breaking and entering becomes an offense not punishable by jail time, but by milk and cookies.
But when Christmas rolls around, so too do the requisite family gatherings, events which unfortunately involve your family. Most relatives are as pleasant as you are, but if you’ve taken Biology, then you know that genes sometimes do stuff, and in their constant mutation, bad seeds take root, growing eventually into bad apples that fall far from the tree and are very much not of my eye.
To help you navigate the dangers of the family-infested holidays, we here at Reasonably Ludicrous have created a list of the 8 types of annoying relative, accompanied by battle-tested tips guaranteed to help you avoid them. Never go into another mandatory holiday gathering blind!
Attack: Bestowing Wisdom
Usually retired, The Advisor spends most of his time enjoying his many hobbies, which range from fly-fishing in the frigid rapids of Yosemite to memorizing trivia so that he can more effectively play along to reruns of Jeopardy. Having led a full life of success and happiness, he worries that you’re skittering down a dangerous slope, and that he may be the only belaying rope left to keep you from crashing to the ground in a heap of debt and drug use. The Advisor will lure you in with a question about your current state of affairs, though he is already well aware, and upon explaining that you’re trying to be a writer, he’ll give you a pat on the back, saying he’s happy that you’re trying something unconventional, but it’s time you found a career and a good woman. To soften the blow, he’ll tell you not to worry, adding that you haven’t made any mistakes thus far, because mistakes are just “lessons in disguise!”
Defense: Wear a Suit
The Advisor knows the truth about the world, and your personal—and thus wrong—opinions mean little to him. Defending your liberal arts degree and pursuits of passion will only make him pity you further, and his kind heart will never allow him to let such a sorry case back into the world without being properly spoon-fed the rehabilitating mush of hard-earned wisdom. The most effective way to parry his assaults is by donning fine attire. Like the humans of the future in the Skynet timestream, The Advisor is easily deceived by appearances, and a simple suit will prevent him from seeing you for the synthetic-skinned failure-machine you truly are. In his eyes, anyone who has outgrown his flip flop stage is clearly on the right track, and The Advisor will quickly commend you for finally becoming a man, then move on to other targets.
Attack: Putrid Flesh, Uncomfortable Hugs, & Expired Candy
Madame Wrinkles is the oldest member of the family, and despite having lost most of her faculties, she’s still going strong, and, unfortunately, shows no signs of letting up. She never washes, and the smell of old person exudes in a five foot radius. Avoid eye contact at all costs, for the moment your eyes lock, she will surge forward with uncanny speed, crushing you in an overly lengthy hug that forces you into the heart of her stench. She will pinch your cheek with the icy fingers of death, and the second you open your mouth to protest, she will force a ten-year-expired butterscotch candy into it. Once free from her grasp, back away slowly, nodding as if you are still listening to her unintelligible ramblings. Because of her bad vision, she will be unable to notice the increasing distance between you as she suggests for the nth time that you hook up with the hottie in the corner, having long forgotten that the two of you are first cousins.
Defense: Fake a Disease
Madame Wrinkles is about one germ away from turning to dust, so another relative will have been appointed as her personal guard for this event, making sure she interacts with no one who shows even the most minor signs of sickness. Spend the party coughing and you won’t be allowed to come anywhere near her! Or, if you dislike throat pain and accidentally causing cool relatives to avoid you, as a more subtle alternative, you can joke about the fun ways you hope the huge quantities of alcohol you’re consuming will interact with your antibiotics!
Attack: Being Holier Than Thou
The Ascetic just recently gave up drugs and alcohol after the most fun and irresponsible thirty-five years of his life. In fact, he has given up all sins, instead turning to Bikram Yoga, tea, and meditation. He has most likely become religious, though more often than not this will manifest itself in the form of a nudist cult praising the unknowable energy of a certain species of fern rather than any of the more recognizable theologies. One tenet of this cult is recruiting as many followers as possible, and The Ascetic will spend this holiday party convincing you of the error of your ways. As a high-functioning alcoholic, you will find this particularly grating, and The Ascetic’s honest good intentions will only infuriate you further.
Defense: Join a Cult
As you find yourself becoming convinced by The Ascetic’s charm, zeal, and genuine happiness (how can anyone be happy without alcohol?), you’ll know it’s time to enact your plan. Before the main holiday event, you must join some sort of strange cult, especially one that provides members with proof of entry, by say, giving you a laminated name badge or perhaps burning their holy symbol into your flesh with a red-hot branding iron. When The Ascetic corners you, smile pleasantly, and the moment he takes a breath, launch into a spiel about the benefits of your cult. Use every trick the cult leader taught you to persuade him to join, from pleading to threats to offers of free brandings, and within moments he’ll go running, sure that Flurhhooven, the spirit of photosynthesis, growth, and personal change is testing his devotion.
The Baby Pusher has given birth very recently, and her world now revolves around the squirming hazard-in-waiting strapped to her chest. Immersed in the throes of pure love and the miracle of life, The Baby Pusher will want to share her most profound emotional experience with everyone she knows. It doesn’t matter that you have no idea how to care for children, and the fact that frankly, they scare you, is of little relevance. The Baby Pusher will force you to hold the creature, and more fighteningly, to love it. Though on the outside she appears unrelentingly happy, you can’t help but wonder if it’s a façade, that, if after months of constant exhaustion, she’s simply trying to pawn off the fleshy creature in the hopes of a brief respite in which she can longingly imagine life before “the child.”
Defense: A Sling
No. Not for firing pebbles at the tiny human in a reverse David and Goliath scenario. Remember when you snapped your forearm that one time you tried skateboarding before swearing it off as the devil’s sport? Time to break out that sling. When The Baby Pusher asks you what happened, say it’s nothing—you’re involved in accidents all the time! In fact, you joke, the most ridiculous one of all was when were holding your family friend’s small child and accidentally dropped it. Ruminate, seemingly to yourself, about whether or not that’s related to the fact that poor Johnny’s had a lisp ever since. The Baby Pusher will recoil in fear and keep her child as far away from you as possible.
Attack: Tales of Recent Accomplishments
Often gainfully employed, usually as a doctor or lawyer, The Blowhard will one-up you with stories both trite and extravagant, from tales of his wife’s recent appointment as head of the PTA to his journeys to exotic countries where he rode dolphins whilst eating caviar. His children have either finished or are currently attending University. The older one is likely to have completed a tour with the Peace Corps, and though The Blowhard is somewhat disapproving of humanitarianism, he appreciates his eldest child’s go-get-em attitude, and is reassured by the fact that said child will be attending law or medical school in the upcoming fall. “What is it you’re doing again?” he asks, only half interested, and upon hearing that your blog is enjoying moderate success, you see in his eyes his negative assessment of you, for you’re neither changing the world nor exploiting it, the only two endeavors of any worth. He advises you to consider a career change, then launches into a bombastic recounting of his fulfilling life.
Defense: Puff his Ego to Blimpish Proportions
When trapped in conversation with The Blowhard, you must endure at least one quick story before any effective action can be taken. As he spins a not-so-charming tale of his resourcefulness, like how he outwitted an IQ test or used his medical knowledge to save an unconscious victim on a plane, you must ooh and ahh appropriately, expressing fear and delight at all the right moments. The Blowhard will be lulled into a false sense of security, and once the story has ended, he will look for some sort of praise. And that’s exactly what you’ll give him. More than he’s ever gotten before! You must act as if you have in fact had a revelation, that his bragging has opened up a new world of possibility to you, that this very conversation has Changed. Your. Life! You must immediately proclaim that you wish to someday be as great as The Blowhard, and that you need to write down your new resolution before it leaves you. Flee.
The Magnificent is probably only a year or two older than you, proving that if you didn’t waste your life trying to be a writer, you might actually be able to make something of yourself. He’s most likely just completed another world tour, paying his way as a professional snowboarder. Whenever he’s not competing in the Olympics or being the lead singer in a band or enjoying his fame as the star of an obscure sports team, he’s climbing mountains, visiting the Taj Mahal, and boning his incredibly hot girlfriend. She’s a different one from last year—probably the hottest yet. She’s fun, too. And you can’t even hate him cause he’s such a nice guy!
Defense: There is No Defense Against Magnificence
You’ve tried paying a beautiful girl to pretend to be your girlfriend. You’ve photoshopped yourself onto mountaintops and in front of notable monuments. You’ve even tried to compete in the X-games, only to find that your bones were surprisingly crushable. Nothing works. The Magnificent is always genuinely supportive of your endeavors, from your blog to that one time you tried to open a falafel stand, not realizing that that particular street corner was run by the mob. Even his girlfriends have always been nice to you, and The Magnificent gets you free tickets to all sorts of cool sporting events. Why? Why can’t you be him?
Attack: Pointless Stories, Prying into Your Personal Life, and Rumor Mongering
The aunt everyone tries to avoid, The Gossip uses her bubbly joviality to pin down her prey, and once you’ve fallen into the trap, she’ll act as though the two of you are in on something together. Don’t be fooled! The Gossip has no allies. She will inquire about your love life, and when you report that it is pointedly non-existent, she will cluck knowingly, and the twinkle in her eye means word of your failure as a sexual specimen will spread to the farthest reaches of your circle of acquaintances. When she asks about your job and you explain that you don’t have one, per se, she will chide you with a half-hearted tsk that indicates the news will spread, inaccurately. Amidst friendly bouts of prying, she will attempt to tell you every detail imaginable about your other family members, unaware that you’ve spent the whole event trying to dodge those very people for fear they’ll tell you about themselves!
Defense: Profuse Winking
The Gossip is a fast talker, rendering words an ineffective strategy for escape. Instead, you must rely on body language, and there’s nothing The Gossip enjoys more than a conspiratorial wink. Lean in close, for this indicates the two of you share a profound secret. It is important that The Gossip think others in the room are filled with jealousy at seeing how connected the two of you are, so make it overt. Once you’re good and close, wink rapidly and without limit. The Gossip will laugh nervously at the inside joke she assumes you share and send you on a mission to gather juicy intelligence. Do not return.
The Politician never goes anywhere without an agenda. She firmly believes in every policy you think is ruining the world and strongly supports the candidate you want to murder with your bare hands. The fact that you don’t have a job makes you The Politician’s enemy, for it’s people like you who are destroying this country and helping the terrorists win. No matter The Politician’s beliefs, you distinctly do not want to get involved, for you actively attempt to learn as little as possible about the current state of the world. Death tolls and rampant hunger are less fun reruns of The Simpsons, but try as you might to avoid the trap, you will find yourself outmatched, for The Politician spends her life learning how best to bait people into unpleasant conversation and will deftly turn every topic to politics through subtle manipulation or loud yelling.
Defense: Inappropriate Laughter
The Politician’s powers are strong, and the only way to defeat her is to treat all of her heavy conversation topics as silly jokes. Whenever she mentions the dire state of the economy, chortle as though she’s made a clever quip. When she attempts to turn the conversation to the upcoming debate, guffaw as though she’s just spilled something on herself. Follow your laughter by repeating her comment, then adding, “Good one!” Before she has a chance to recover, launch into whatever story pops into your head no matter how irrelevant or embarrassing. Your inappropriate responses will undermine her fervor, making her arguments seem petty, and when you accidentally follow-up with a tale about your failed sexual exploits as a high-schooler, the pity and discomfort everyone feels is sure to lead to a change of topic.
There you have it! We hope you’ve found our handy-dandy Guide to the Holidays to be as handy-dandy as we intended. Next time you’re trapped at one of those nauseatingly innocuous Holiday Events, try out a few of these methods! If you’re feeling extra charitable, leave us a comment detailing how it went, because we certainly haven’t tried them! And for those of you non-readers or regular folks who are simply in a hurry, here’s a condensed pictorial guide for your relative-avoiding pleasure.
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