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2020-01-16 18:32:50 (UTC)

Prompt 057: Afternoon Audience

57. Describe how one afternoon might be different with these different sets of people: your parents, your friends, your siblings, and a group of five year- olds you have to babysit.

I visit my relatives a couple times a month. When I hang with my mother, this is how it usually goes.
Drinking a lot of coffee. Bitching about life. Mum complains about my sister's latest shenanigans (not in a good way, either... More about sis in a bit). Mum fawns over her grandkids. She asks if I've met someone and I tell her yes, but I'm not interested in dating. I run round the yard with the dog to clear the air.

Another cup of coffee when I come back in. I eat cookies or pastries my mum and stepdad picked up because they knew I was coming over. Meanwhile, mum has switched from complaining about family to complaining about some other current pop culture news topic. This most recent time round, she was complaining about Prince Harry and Megan Markle, and how they're still collecting a paycheck and have security detail without the responsibility (whatever that is. Do "the royals" do anything besides drum up drama and tourism?). I usually say something about how I don't watch television, don't care about that specific topic, don't have an opinion, etc. My mother scowls about that, my stepdad chuckles (because apparently he does the same thing whenever my mother tries to engage him in similar conversations). I pivot to talking about US politics or how things are in the city where I work (both being a hot mess), and my admissions frequently seem to surprise my mother. She likely doesn't deal with many vocal Drump dissenters, or people who care about the city where I work.

Maybe we play a board game or two. I roped her into over an hour of Backgammon on the most recent Christmas day, and that was fun. She seemed to enjoy it and definitely became better after a couple games. Some of my more contemporary games she's not really into, but I still sometimes show her a title or two that's been published by designer friends of mine.

By sundown, I'm ready to go home.

I hang out with a wide variety of people. I wish I still lived in the city where I worked sometimes, since I could go bicycling with them more frequently. My bicycling friends and I are united by that common interest, but beyond that we could be wildly diverse. That's part of why I like the last-Friday-of-the-month bike rides through that city. There are so many different people, and different -kinds- of people, who participate in those rides. It's super cool.

I also have "writer friends" and "coworkers" and "fellow college alumni" and "board game design friends." Those folks usually come together for that particular group's specific purpose, though in a couple cases things blend together, particularly when it comes to old-skool video games. I've been to a barcades, restaurants, and the cinema with some friends from each of those groups, and it's been thoroughly enjoyable every time. I have a feeling that I choose good people to hang with when I make a point to spend time round others. My coworkers especially are good-hearted people. Also, I have an easier time hanging round fellow child-free people, or people whose children are already grown (a more-frequent occurrence, now that I myself am older).

This rarely happens, even beyond the hypothetical. I have a younger brother and an older sister. Both of them have pursued suburban family life, but objectively, have had different measures of success. My sister had her first child at the age of 17, while still in high school, and as one might expect she faced a number of uncommon challenges related to that. She has recently married a guy who lived in the same neighbourhood as us when we were kids, after having two additional children in a previous marriage.

She is constantly in debt, short on cash, and frequently requests a "loan" from my mother. These considerable sums of cash go towards vehicle repairs, utilities, and other miscellaneous expenses. I don't know all the details because I only hear the worst of it and try to avoid discussing it. My mother cannot say "no" to my sister, no matter how indebted my sister (and as it happens, her ex-husband) are to her.

My brother, on the other hand, has been through college, married after that, had kids after that, and now lives in a house with his wife and their three children. My mother and stepdad live in the in-law apartment of that house, and my sister-in-law's parents and relatives live somewhat close by and visit frequently.

I bring all this up because it seems as though my brother's family is a bit more close-knit. Their family network seems stronger and has a tendency to help one another out more often. Maybe my brother has an advantage, as his wife's family seems to hang together frequently, while our side of the family doesn't as much.

Alongside this, I'm reminded of an observation by Scott Adams in his book, -How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big-. He mentions, "There are three kinds of people in the world: those who are selfish, those who are stupid, and those who are a burden to others." He elaborates his "selfish" aspect as those who have effectively prioritized themselves, are taking care of their own issues with a minimum of drama, and are generally self-sufficient. Generosity is not something that selfish people don't do. They more likely have resources set aside with which they can be generous.

Stupid people haven't figured this out yet. If they mess up enough, they become a Burden To Others. If I were to rank the people I've mentioned in this topic on this three-point scale, it would sorta look like this:
Brother: Selfish
Mother: Selfish, verging on Stupid
Me: Stupid, but becoming more Selfish as time goes on (particularly as I've become progressively financially-stable)
Sister: Burden To Others

Suffice it to say that my brother and sister do not get along. I also happen to keep my sister at arm's length (and for the record she has never approached me to request a "loan"). We'll meet over dinner, with our other family members present, but that's about it.

This would be absolute hell. Full stop.

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