I’m Dulcy. Been a Watkins for sixteen years. Life as a Watkins ain’t always a picnic. Sometimes it’s a reunion.
Great Granny Flow and her husband had ten kids. People used to ask Great Grandpa why he had ten kids. “Didn’t want eleven,” or, “Figured out what caused ‘em.”
We hail from Natchetoches, Louisiana. Destination? San Juan, Puerto Rico. Our “reunion committee” was wantin’ to go somewhere where they spoke another language. Grandpa Cecil stewed for the whole flight.
“I tole them kids we coulda just gone to Lafayette. Forty miles….” he muttered. “They’s foreign there.”
“Pa, they’s just Cajun,” Billy said.
“Boy, you corrugatin’ me?”
“I ain’t contradictin’ you, Pa,” he said, contradicting him.
We planned a stay at the Frontenac. “No bathing suits permitted in the hotel lobby” should have been our first clue. Shoot, we all brought shorts. Uncle Hubris was first to discover the rooms all had marble floors. They have six kids and the drill always is, two queen beds, kids is two to a bed and four to the floor, then rotate each night. Even he couldn’t put kids to sleep on hard, cold marble floors so he says, puttin’ on some airs, “Lucky dat I rented me a VW Beetle. Malcolm, Sister, Weezer and Teddi, you older ones is sleepin’ in dat car tonight, then we rotisserize.”
Uncle Phillip had a totally different take for his seven caballeros.
“Listen up! Butch, Rip, Junior, pull off dat mattress! Y’all are sleepin’ on the box springs tonight. Cherie, Sandra, Bonnie and Shirley, y’all are sleepin’ on the floor on dat mattress.”
This was greeted by a chorus of, “Daddy, I wanna sleep on the box springs!” Everyone wanted to be sleepin’ in luxury, three to a bed, even on the springs.
Next day, Great Granny Flo walks in lookin’ like Marilyn Manson. Turns out she’d confused her lipliner and eyeliner. Her eyebrows and eye rims were red while her lips was lined black. Cousin Donnie dared smartmouth her by asking if she was into Goth. Only Aunt Fay prevented Donnie from being slapped into next week by his pa, but Great Grandma Flo just gushed, “Oh, Garth’s one of my favorite Country singers!”
Great Aunt Pearl had ordered family reunion shirts and never checked them, so we were all wearing, “Watkins Reunion, the Power of Wee,” instead of “We.” Cousin Carl, the prankster, got hold of a hotel laundry pen and added an extra “wee” to all the babies’ shirts.
I heard cousin Butch braggin’ to his cousins, sayin’ he’d caught a ten pound bass at Bastrip Lake.
“Butch, you is lyin’,” Uncle Hubris said.
“Truth prevails like frog hair!” Butch insisted.
“How you know?’ Hubris replied.
“I weighed it on the ‘toll-doe.’
“Turn your hearin’ aid up! You know, the ‘toll-doe’ scale. T-O-L-E-D-O.”
Soon it was time to watch the highlights of the Watkins year, spliced together by Uncle Phillip, the cheapskate. (Cheapskate: another word for ‘Watkins.’) Uncle had spliced it over an old VHS tape that had some video he’d taken of his army buddies. It had some cussin’ so, now and then, a cuss word would stick out and horrified mammas would rush to cover their babies’ ears right quick, ‘til Aunt Osee plain old had it and pulled the plug.
Then Uncle Hubris and Uncle Phillip, bein’ their cheap selves, corralled the men folk off to Walmart to load the hotel limo full of discount pork rinds, moon pies and the like. They was so late, women folk was fuming, some judging they probably went out for beer, ‘til some of the youngun’s started hollering and pointing to a nearby television screen. There they was, on ABC: Hubris, Cecil, Phillip, and a pack of uncles, cousins and nephews, proudly wearing their “Power of Wee” shirts. Phrase underneath them said, “Vacationing Heroes.”
The news anchor said, “Walmart issued a “code Adam” today after four year old Juan Gonzalez went missing. All doors went into lockdown. Fortunately for little Juan and his family, the Watkins Reunion was in San Juan this year. This self-admitted “large family” instantly held hands the length of the store, then combed through it real fast, finding Juan before he could be molested in a rest room.”
All us women just shook, then plain sat down, crying and praying. Right there on the lobby floor. We thought we was coming for a reunion, but God had other plans.
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