From the Hart:The Uncle Your Parents Warned You About

tsj column writers - from the hartBy Ron Hart

It is time I stop railing at politicians and start making fun of my family again. The focus groups who read my column seem to want to hear more about my Uncle Mac. Everyone but my family wants me to talk about him. When you are beguiled into the beauty of becoming a part of my family, he is that tattoo you find out about later.

At the risk of sharing too much, here are more reflections on the blackest of the herd of black sheep in my family, that great American, Uncle Mac.

I call him my “Drunkle.” He drinks a lot which, along with cigarettes, explains his whiskey voice. In fact, drinking is an integral part of his persona. He said he drank so much vodka last Saturday night that he woke up Sunday speaking Russian.

Yet he’s philosophical about his drinking. He said excessive drinking was like watching soccer or opera: It is its own punishment. To this day, he is the only person I have ever seen drinking bourbon from a bell pepper.

Uncle Mac is astounded that my son drinks these craft beers that he considers syrupy, warm, stupid and expensive. He drinks only Budweiser. He says he “likes his beer like he likes his violence: domestic.”

He applied for Obamacare and under “main source of income,” he said “robbing liquor stores.” He was accepted but didn’t send in any money. He just wanted to mess with them. When he sees one of those baby-changing stations in the men’s restroom, he calls over the manager of the place and points out the design flaw.

Just to make his family mad, he is an Auburn fan amid all our University of Alabama grad family. Once while watching the Bama-Florida game, I asked him whom he was rooting for. He said, “I hope it ends up tied 0 to 0 with a lot of injuries.”

He always says, “I have two favorite songs. One is Elvis’ rendition of ‘Dixie,’ the other is not.”

To further illustrate his enlightened philosophy, he is also against gay marriage. Uncle Mac is old-fashioned; he believes divorce should only be between a man and a woman. When I asked him how his current marriage was going, he said, “We took out large insurance policies on each other. Now it’s just a waiting game.”

I’m not saying Uncle Mac is immature, but he once cussed out a 14-year-old. He is equal parts child and intellectual – the latter being more in a W.C. Fields genre. He is the one family member whom all the kids crowd around during family reunions to be told life’s unvarnished realities. Listening to my Drunkle is sort of like experiencing an oral presentation of writings on a bathroom wall. I remember every one of them.

I spent the years from age 12 to 16 wondering what he meant when he came back from the Army saying he was so pent up that, if he got anywhere with a woman, he could “shampoo a buffalo.” I finally understood what he meant about the time I got a Farrah Fawcett poster for my room.

For years my uncle dated ugly women – ones who couldn’t get any action if they were the only cocktail waitresses on an oil rig. He said of one date that she looked like she ran a 100-yard dash in a 90-yard gym. That was the kind of romantic prose that made him a babe repellent.

Yet he felt compelled to have “the talk” with my son. I had to remind him twice that a sex talk with a young boy need not involve how much to pay and the proper amount to tip.

My “Drunkle” is one of the great characters of all time, a true slice of Americana. He worked in construction, as a sheet metal worker, and at a plant. He’s kind of the Ryan Seacrest of  Locust Fork, Alabama. He is one of the blue collar guys who will support Trump because illegal immigrants have undercut his wages for years.

He said knowingly of the San Bernardino terrorist shootings, “Ron, if it could happen in California, it could happen in the U.S.A.” And he always says, “Son, I was around for the Reagan Administration, so I know how things are supposed to be done.”

A libertarian op-ed humorist and award-winning author, Ron’s a frequent guest on CNN. He can be contacted at Ron@RonaldHart.com or @RonaldHart on Twitter.

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