Funny Tips to Survive Family Events (aka Betrayal Times 6!)

Funny Tips to Survive a Family Get-Together #funny #family #graduation #party #college #school #humor

So then…I smile that “oh-I’m-so-happy-to-be-here-but-secretly-I’m-dying-inside” smile at my sister’s family as I settle down into the metal folding chair for my nephew Brian’s graduation ceremony from a large Florida university.

A four-hour graduation ceremony.

Four hours of the college admin officials reading off names of the 732 college seniors that I don’t know, just so we can witness the 16 seconds it takes for my nephew’s name to be called and for him to accept the diploma.

I’ve flown cross-country for the event and have truly enjoyed spending time with my Mom and my sister’s family all weekend – and I’m delighted to witness my nephew’s accomplishment – but now is the hot, sweaty, mind-numbingly boring ceremony that I have to suffer through in the name of being a good auntie, sister, and daughter.

I had actually toyed with the idea of bringing a book! I love to read — and had, in fact, been reading a great book on the plane over to Florida which I could easily bring into the auditorium with me today.

But I could just imagine the shocked, stern look from my mother if I dared pull out a book at such a special occasion. And I could just imagine the hurt look on my sister’s face as I casually perused my tome while her first-born achieved his highest academic accomplishment. Not to mention, I would be a horrible role model for my other two nephews who are high school-aged. And I worry I’d get that disappointed shake of the head from my sister’s husband.

So I settle in for the long road ahead, on my hard metal chair, in the balcony, peering over the rail at the 732 college seniors on the main floor with my nephew. Their caps and gowns are a bright blue, against the backdrop of the thousands of friends and families who came to witness the momentous event.

As the speeches drone on, I am so out of my mind with boredom, I want to stick hot pokers in my eyes.

Then I see my youngest nephew next to me open a paperback and start reading!

My head snaps down the row to my sister to see if she has noticed this affront! But she is busy digging in her purse for her book! She hands a running magazine to her husband and her other son mumbles, “Where’s mine?” My sister reaches into her purse and hands him his book!

What the what! Are you kidding me?

I whip my head around to my Mom, to see if she is as shocked as I am – and she is fumbling in her purse for her book.

I kid you not.

My own mother. My upstanding, respectful, always appropriate mother. Et tu, Brute’?

The entire frikkin’ family each brought their own book to cope with this four-hour dull-athon – and I’m the only moron who was polite enough and caring enough and sweet enough to think I was supposed to pay respectful attention to the whole damn ceremony!

And did any of them think to let ME know their plan? Noooo.
And did any of them think to bring ME some reading material? Noooo.

I should ask my sister just like her son asked: “Where’s mine?” In fact, I should shout it LOUD in front of all these students and their families! WHERE IS MINE??!!

MINE is sitting on the table back in my frikkity-frik hotel room!

Oh the injustice.

So instead, I channel all my righteous indignation and outrage into paying SUPER CLOSE attention to everything that happens in the speeches, the ceremony, the calling of the graduates’ names.

I send telepathic messages to my nephew Brian, “I’m here for you, buddy. The rest of your family doesn’t care about you – they’re all reading BOOKS and MAGAZINES. But I’M paying attention. I’ll be able to converse with you about all the details of your special day. I’m on HYPER ALERT for you, buddy!”

When the ceremony finally ends, my ass has fallen asleep, and I am bored out of my skull — but I have painstakingly gathered all sorts of witty tidbits and thoughtful reflections to share with my graduating nephew.

I smile a little smugly as we exit the auditorium – me and the readers.

When we reach Brian, we all hug and congratulate him. Just as I am about to impress him with my observations, my sister asks him, “What’d you think of the ceremony?” —

— to which he replies, “Oh, it was so long! Thank God I had my book!”

I am not frikkin’ kidding.

This is a completely true story.

And I am still bitter about it.

Always bring a book with you. Always. I don’t care if it’s a graduation, a recital, a wedding, or a frikkin’ funeral – BRING A FRIKKIN’ BOOK.

— Darcy Perdu

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Original Illustration for So Then Stories by Mary Chowdhury

(Tell me your tales of graduations, recitals, and ceremonies that made you want to gouge your eyes out. How did YOU pass the time? Did YOU bring books? And if so, why the hell didn’t you tell ME to bring a book to that Florida graduation?) 

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14 replies on “Funny Tips to Survive Family Events (aka Betrayal Times 6!)

  1. Judy said:

    I rarely travel anywhere without my book, my sweater and my bottle of water. You can’t be over prepared. I also often bring a snack secretly tucked away because you never know… I think that like you I would have left the book at home for the graduation.

    Actually I didn’t know people read books still. I started up allergy shots again after 4 years away. I used to enjoy the 30 minute after shot waiting time, sitting in a roomful of people all quietly reading books. Now they are all blathering on their phones, texting or playing noisy games.

  2. I have the Kindle app downloaded on my phone for just such occasions with an emergency book. It’s not a very good book but at least it makes the time go by when I really need it. And that’s only if for some reason I don’t have a book in my purse. Sorry you didn’t get the memo!

  3. Tina said:

    I NEVER leave home without a book – and whether or not a book can fit in the handbag is usually the deciding factor if I’ll buy it or not!

  4. AinOakPark said:

    Yes, graduations are mind-numbingly boring, for the most part.

    To my daughter’s college graduation, I brought an book of crossword puzzles. I just tore out the pages and passed them down the row. I think all 12 of us worked puzzles, since most of us had pens available.

    I don’t mind reading or this type of quiet activity in this type of situation. What really angers me are the people who chat and talk and socialize throughout the event until THEIR loved one is front and center, thereby ruining it for everyone else. You can’t hear your child’s part of the recital, or awards ceremony, or graduation because they are too busy being unthinking, uncaring, self-centered jerks. I could go on, but I better stop now….

  5. Steve J said:

    As I approached the end of the article, I thought I would tell you that the only better ending would be if the graduate also had a book. I should have assumed that you wouldn’t disappoint!

  6. barbara said:

    I’m really impressed they weren’t texting or playing games.

    Not quite the same, but…
    So then, as we’re about to leave for the school, a Missouri frog strangler downpour starts. I’ve driven 4 hours to be there for my nephew’s graduation and came to the brunch with his other aunt in her rental. She says “let me run out there under the umbrella and then when I’m in, you run out really fast and jump in (since the driveway is 20 feet from the house due to Ozark rock).”

    This would have worked great had she been able to find the unlock button quickly. Instead, I stood in the downpour for long enough to be soaked to the skin. After having her drop me off two blocks from the hotel on her way (small town), when I got to my room I could wring streams of water out of my undergarments, not to mention my slacks!

    Turns out there were so many people, most of them were shunted to a second auditorium and watched the whole thing on TV screens, while I drank beer and watched “Joe Dirt”, ha HA!

  7. Cindy said:

    I take a book EVERYWHERE! It’s gotten easier since going digital (reading on smartphones in a pinch, for the win!), but I still keep an “emergency book” in my car trunk. (However, I have issues. My SO says I’m the only person he knows who can turn reading into a vice.)

    • barbara said:

      Never a vice, non illegitimi carborundum!

  8. My late grandfather might have passed the time twiddling his thumbs, which drove my grandmother nuts.

    I’ve had a BA, a Masters, and now working on a doctorate… and I will not bother going to graduation ceremonies. Three or four hours is an ordeal.
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  9. Alex said:

    I am such a goodie two shoes – I have never even thought of bringing a book to these mindnumbingly boring occasions, but to be honest where I live I wouldn’t get away with it. There’s barely suppressed hissing when someone doesn’t turn off their Kindle in time and I shudder to think what would happen to the person reading an actual book. But I would be livid had what happened to you happened to me. I admire you if you are still speaking to your family!

    • Ha! Yes, I’m still speaking to those knuckleheads! I love those goobers! But you can be damn sure I bring a book EVERYWHERE now! Ha! :)