2006.08.23 Say "Uncle"

Written by David Green.

By JEFF PICKELL

In eight short months, I am to be an uncle.

My brother John and sister-in-law Stephanie cheerfully reported the news on a Tuesday night three weeks ago, just after I finished helping David empty the big blue van of the newest batch of Observers.

“I’m going to corrupt your child,” I cheerfully reported back to them.

I wasn’t kidding. I have long dreamed of being a weird uncle. You know, the shady character at reunions begging the rich family members for cash to start his latest pea-brained money-making scheme? Who has let enough people down that nobody even takes him seriously anymore? Who smells like airplane glue?

“I’m going to make him call me Uncle Sam,” I said. “I want him to associate the values I teach with the values of these United States of America. He will know more about the Galactic Rebellion and the Kree-Skrull War than the American Revolution and the Civil War.”

“What are you talking about?” said Stephanie.

“Are you going to name him John?” I asked.

“If it’s a boy, yes,” Stephanie answered.

“All right! Johnny Five is alive!” I exclaimed. My brother is John Middleton Pickell IV.

“Please don’t call him Johnny Five,” Stephanie said.

“Too late! Too late!” I yelled. “Input! Need input!”

“What if it’s a girl?” she countered.

I screamed “No!” and slammed the phone down. Then I ran to the office to tell David the good news.

“Guess who gets to be a weird uncle?” I asked.

“You’re going to be a monkey’s uncle?” he said.

“I have no idea what you’re saying!” I replied for the fifth time that day, then sprinted out onto the street.

I was preparing to go for a walk when John called me, so I parlayed the sprint into my standard plod. But I was still giddy with excitement. I’m sure I outdid myself in terms of sheer bizareness of appearance.

Let’s start with my normal exercise garb—a fluorescent orange Microsoft t-shirt that proclaims “Think” in bright white letters, a nine-year-old pair of diamond-patterned stark blue tennis shorts, black argyle socks, and huge orthopedic running shoes.

Add that I’m usually either humming or talking to myself as I walk, usually nonsense phrases like “Bus the Capitol” and “Call the mayor.”

And remember my freakish lack of elbow flex and strange semi-upright, shoulders-slumped posture.

Now factor in a huge, airplane glue-induced euphoric grin. Just kidding about the airplane glue.

I’m glad a crew of volunteers was mowing the grass around the track at the high school. If anyone heard what I was mumbling—the snippets of knowledge I plan to impart on my nephew—I’d have ended up in the looney bin.

Some samples:

“Han shot first. Han shot first. Han shot first. ‘Star Wars’ episodes one through three don’t exist.”

“William Shatner won two Emmys and a Golden Globe. For acting. This is scientific proof that nothing is impossible.”

“The American people elected Jesse ‘The Body’ Ventura and Arnold Schwarzeneggar to the governorships of two U.S. states. It is not a coincidence that both were in ‘Predator.’”

“We refer to the man who played both Maverick and Jim Rockford as ‘Sir’ James Garner.”

“The closest any man will come to feeling the pain of childbirth is the fourth level of ‘Sonic the Hedgehog.’”

“Originally, literary scholars outlined four basic human conflicts: man vs. man, man vs. nature, man vs. self, and man vs. man’s work. Recently, a fifth conflict has been added—man vs. snakes on a plane.”

“I have always wanted to drink chocolate milk directly from a gas pump.”

I had my entire curriculum thought out by the time I returned from exercising, at which point David informed me of the nine gazillion unanswered calls to my phone line (the secret line in the office doubles as my personal line after hours).

I knew just who it was.

“I get to be the weird uncle!” yelled my brother Jamie.

“Too late! Too late! I already called it!” I chided.

“Shucks!” He said. “What does that leave me?”

“You can always be the cool uncle,” I said.

“Aw, who wants to be the cool uncle?”

Who indeed. Who indeed.

– Aug. 23, 2006
  • Front.little Ball
    Fayette's Demetrious Whiteside (left)Skylar Lester attempt to keep the ball from going out of bounds during Morenci's recent basketball tournament for fourth and fifth grade teams. Morenci's Andrew Schmidt stands by.
  • Front.tug
    MORENCI pep rallies generally end with a tug of war. The senior class entry, shown above, did not advance to the finals. Griffin Grieder, Alaina Webster, Kyle Long and Jazmin Smith are shown at the front of the rope, giving it their best effort.
  • Accident
    FAYETTE resident Patricia Stambaugh, 64, was declared dead on the scene of a single-vehicle accident Friday morning south of Morenci. Rescue units were called around 9 a.m., but as of Tuesday, law enforcement officers had not yet determined the time of the accident. According to Ohio State Highway Patrol, Stambaugh was driving west on U.S. 20 when her Chevrolet Malibu traveled off the north side of the road and down a steep embankment, coming to rest in Bean Creek (Tiffin River).
  • Athletic Fields
    SPORTS COMPLEX—Fayette’s outdoor athletic facilities will include three ball fields for summer recreation leagues at the southwest corner of the school. The baseball and softball fields, along with the running track, will be constructed on the east side of the school. Outdoor athletic fields were not part of the new school project from 2007, but voters approved a $1.4 million levy for a school addition and the sports fields last August. Both projects are scheduled to be complete by July 20.
  • Front.teacher Leading
    PRESCHOOL MUSIC—Fayette band director Jeffrey Dunford spends the last half hour of the day leading the full-day preschool class in musical activities. Additional photos are on page 7 of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.F.band
    TROMBONISTS Jake Myers (left) and Max Baker perform Friday at the annual Senior Citizens Luncheon at Fayette High School. The National Honor Society and the FFA chapter teamed up to serve a meal to area seniors and to provide musical entertainment. Both the school band and choir performed. Additional photos are on page 7 of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.

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