Inhuman Swill : Relatives
The following story is an outtake from my memoir The Accidental Terrorist. The names of most of the other participants, including relatives, have been changed to offer some small measure of concealment.

When I was eighteen, my father and I drove from northern Utah to Los Angeles for my cousin Delia's wedding. I had recently put in my application to become a Mormon missionary, and I had yet to learn where I'd be spending the next two years of my life. It wasn't for the sake of one last road trip with my father, though, that I agreed to tag along. I was hoping to meet Danny Elfman.

After the wedding—a brief affair in a tiny chapel like a sugar-frosted cake—the entire gathering moved down the road to the Arcadia Women's Club, a large banquet hall for rent, where a shaggy trio played jazz on a spare proscenium. A dozen long tables were set up in ranks across the room, and we enjoyed an abundant feast of cold cuts, casseroles, and cakes as the music played. "Hey," I said to my aunt Deborah, who sat across from my father and me, "I thought Oingo Boingo was supposed to play."

"All Delia and Sammy's friends are musicians," she said, "so lots of different people are playing. I don't think they're on until later."

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My little brother

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Charcoal by Lee Partridge Shunn
My little brother is so cool. Lee is ten years younger than I, he's studying to be a chemical engineer, and he and his wife Emily are about to have their first baby. He credits me with teaching him all about jazz and classic rock as he was growing up. We like a lot of the same things. I can write, but he can paint and draw.

For years, having admired the paintings that hang on the walls in my parents' house, I've been wanting to have one of Lee's paintings or drawings for my apartment. I kept thinking I'd commission something from him someday. Instead, to my great surprise, when I showed up in Utah for Christmas last December there was a painting shaped object near the tree wrapped in white paper with my name on it.

It was this charcoal drawing you see here to the right, matted and framed and glassed. (Click it to see a larger image.) In real life it's about 3 feet by 4 feet in size. It's now hanging over my couch in the living room of my apartment in Brooklyn. I have to say, it looks pretty fine there.

It's was no mean feat getting it there, though. Before leaving Utah, Laura and I took the picture down to a Mail Boxes Etc. in Salt Lake City, where I insured it and had it shipped to my office in Manhattan. When it arrived the next week, I flagged down a minivan taxi and hauled it to Prospect Heights (despite my cabbie obvious annoyance at having to drive to Brooklyn—hey, I don't make the laws).

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Here comes the firestorm

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I knew this was going to happen, but that doesn't make it any less aggravating now that it has.

See, as part of this Mormon missionary memoir of mine, I've divulged secrets of the Mormon temple ceremony that I'm not supposed to talk about. In fact, I took gruesome oaths on my life in the Mormon temple never to reveal the contents of that ceremony.

Now that the book is picking its paraplegic way toward publication, I figured I should give my parents a heads-up about the coming betrayal. (Not only will the book contain, early on, this temple material, but I've also culled those pages out as an excerpt for my agent to try to sell to some major magazine.) I emailed my parents, told them about the contents and purpose of my book, and offered to let them see what I had written so far so they could be prepared for the consequences. My mother asked to see the book so I sent it to her a couple of weeks ago.

Well, this morning I received the following loving email from one of my siblings (I have seven):

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About This Archive

This page is an archive of recent entries in the Relatives category.

Rejoinders is the previous category.

Religion is the next category.

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