I’ll be the first to admit that I had more than one agenda when I finally agreed to marry my wife.
On the one hand, I promised myself that I would lose my virginity by the age of 37.
It was a lofty goal that only crossed into the realm of possibility when Jacquie and I started to date.
Still, I wasn’t sure if she was “the one”.
In fact, it wasn’t until the third time Jacquie proposed to me that I finally acquiesced, after I had realized that our betrothal could benefit me, as well.
You see, another dream I’ve had since I can remember was to invent a pretext so credible that my family would have no choice but to excuse me from ever seeing them in person again. It would be christened the OMEGA Excuse, the justification of all justifications. No more birthdays! No more funerals! No more other boring bits in between!
I had known for some time that Jacquie was keen to return to the homeland 9,000 miles away from New York City. That might be some people’s idea of a “comfortable distance” to put between themselves and their family. But not most people. Most people would need to live permanently on a space station to reach their familial comfort zone. And I understand the feeling. But in my case, let’s be real. I wasn’t going to get a better offer than 9,000 miles. Before Jacquie, I would have been grateful for a one way ticket to Hoboken.
We quickly made plans to move to Auckland, and then I popped my cherry. Eighteen seconds later, we were back to talking about Auckland. It was a moment of triumph. No longer must I rely on my grossly inadequate neocortex (I was born breach) to think up new excuses to avoid personal contact with my loved ones. with our relocation to Auckland arranged, if anyone in my family asked if I were attending this or that gathering, I had the OMEGA Excuse to save me. “Oh, I’d love to spend Thanksgiving at your house eating your dried out turkey and repeating the same conversation we had last year. Oh, no. I just remembered. I’m going to be 9,000 miles away living my new life in Auckland that day. Damn.”
It’s hard for me to say all this. I’m a sentimentalist at heart. But if I’m honest, I think me moving away was the best arrangement for all parties concerned.
Thanks to the wonders of modern technology and infrastructure, even separation by a continent and an ocean is not enough to suspend all contact with loved ones, unfortunately. Facebook and Twitter keep us up to date on important news from the folks back home, such as what they had for lunch, and how some of it is still stuck in their teeth. (The rest is made up of George Takei re-posts).
There is also gmail, for our semi-literate siblings and parents. And there is Skype, for those relatives who want to see how fat I’ve gotten.
This multichannel, always-on, ever instant online access to anyone in the world means that we still have to deal with shit like Mother’s Day.
Which I only just found out it was yesterday.
I’ve been adequate keeping in touch on every occasion. Except for Mother’s Day, which has proven a tough nut to crack.
My first Mother’s Day here, I woke up that Sunday morning, eager to beat my siblings to wishing mom a happy day.
I called her on the land-line, but what I failed to take into account was that, due to the International Dateline, it was still early Tuesday morning back in New York.
Needless to say, mom was kind of angry I woke her. She said goodnight, and then implied that of all her children, I was the one that came closest to being aborted. Then she hung up.
I decided I’d take the high road the next year, by tagging my mother in a photograph that, if memory serves, had something to do with Mother’s Day.
But by 2012, the demands of acknowledging this holiday, year-in, year-out, had pretty much exhausted my creativity, to say nothing of my interest. I ended up tagging my mom in a status update about how she can fart on request.
But this year, I was inconsiderate. The day passed without my notice. And that made me feel bad.
To make up for my neglect, I decided that for the next day or so, I would be nice to whatever mothers happen to get in my way.
Unfortunately, this didn’t turn out well, either.
On Sunday morning, for example, I stopped to say hello to my neighbor, Lucy, who had just come out of her apartment accompanied by an older woman.
I made a comment about the pleasant weather. I mentioned how much I liked Lucy as a neighbor, even though she doesn’t clean up the dog shit from the courtyard, and I think she’s been reading my mail, and that she must be proud.
This woman was very offended by what I said. “I’m her sister, you asshole,” the old lady said, before storming off.
Then there was the poorly timed “baby sea lion for lunch” joke I told to a mother who happened to be raising money for the SPCA, and the whole misunderstanding over my use of the word “bastard” in passing, and on and on and on.
So, I give up. I’m no good at this shit. That’s my new Omega Excuse.