Dingus of the week: Your uncle
Or aunt, or mother-in-law, or father, or your grandma's weird boyfriend
Every week for the past three years, I’ve dedicated the Friday newsletter to naming and claiming the dinguses that occupy our politics and culture. And I will continue until morale improves.
But I recognize that we all deal with dinguses on a daily basis who never see justice because they are too small potatoes to roast in a newsletter that goes out to 40,000 people all over the world. (Special shout out to my 16 Swedish subscribers!)
When I first started doing this, I would get direct messages from people who wanted me to name dinguses they worked with, like, Cheryl from accounting, or Trevor in sales1. One woman even sent me a news article about a special dingus she worked with who went to jail for some light fraud at a local city level. While I deeply enjoy hearing about the interpersonal dingusry, I figured it’s safer (legally) to punch above my weight class into the realm of humans who might not even realize they’re being compared to tubs of expired sour cream.
But this week, I was thinking about how much I hate Thanksgiving, which is at its worst a whitewashing of genocide served with a side of dry-ass bird that your mother-in-law still doesn’t know how to cook. Or, at its best, a compulsory family activity, involving the gathering of a smorgasbord of dingii assembled solely because they (allegedly) share genetic material.
And I thought that by Friday (that’s today), you might all be fed up with leftovers and your own personal dingii, who you have the unfortunate luck to be bound to through simple biology.
And listen, maybe you haven’t yet read bell hooks and still love your family. But I think we all understand the absolute fury of irritation that this time of year can bring when your nephew, that adorable little rascal beans you in the head with a football, and his mom, your sister-in-law, says he’s just an energetic little boy, but listen to me Jennifer, he’s TWENTY-ONE NOW! HE SHOULD KNOW BETTER.
Also, as I was writing these, I realized I was just explaining White Midwestern Culture™️. So, my deepest apologies to the readers who don’t feel represented by this roasting. Please, feel free to add your personal vendettas to the comments.]
Mother-in-law: This beautiful long-suffering woman works so hard, and she lets you know it. In fact, her martyrdom is the subject of most of her conversations. And you’ve tried to help her, but she insists that she can’t let you bring the potatoes because her kids love her recipe too much and they’ll be so sad if you bring them because it just won’t taste the same. Really, Cheryl? Your recipe is just some over-boiled spuds with margarine. Girl, you don’t even put salt in there! One year, I swear to god, you made it from a box. Let go and let god put some garlic in one dish, Cheryl!
CHERYL, you pulled the skin off the turkey. There is no flavor within you there is no flavor in your dishes. CHERYL, YOU ONCE TOLD ME KETCHUP WAS TOO SPICY.
Anyway, Cheryl, get down off the cross, we need the wood and your food sucks.
Father-in-law: This knob-on-a-log hasn’t moved from that La-Z Boy recliner all weekend. Is is skin grafted to the chair? It is unclear. Jim, why are you even here? You once contributed sperm and called it a day. Now, children are running screaming through the house, your children are scream-fighting over whether Ron DeSantis has lifts in his boots, and you are just watching the Dallas Cowboys game as if entranced by a siren’s song. Which is weird, because we all know you are a Packers guy. Because you let us know during the few times you do speak, when you shout about how they shouldn’t have let Aaron Rogers go and then you blame Woke and you know what, Jim? Never mind, stop talking.
Brother-in-law: That’s so cool that your company made…how much off of the pandemic? Yeah, wild. Oh, you want me to buy that NFT? Sure, yeah, say more…Nope, just gonna top off my drink. Oh yeah, is Woke™️ the reason we don’t have good comedy anymore? Fascinating. You are on an all-meat diet? Wow. Incredible. Oh me? No, I’m just throwing myself out this window because that seems more enjoyable than listening to you. No, no, I know your net worth, but you can tell me again. *Screams into the abyss*
Sister-in-law: As fun as it is to hear about all the baseball tournaments you are taking your cretins of sons too…Is there literally anything else we can talk about? Oh? You don’t see movies? Or TV shows? Or read books? Is it because you are too busy being a Mama Bear™️? Cool. You know, I’ve got two kids but I was rewatching “The Good Wife” the other night, and….oh you are selling essential oils? Oh my god, sorry, I think I hear Jayden screaming my name. GOT TO GO!
Uncle: This is the guy who is gonna ask you if you won the Turkey Trot. He’s gonna tell you some wild conspiracy about Joe Biden being a robot sent from another planet that it actually is interesting because it somehow also involves Jimmy Hoffa. And so, you gotta actually be intrigued by this guy, until he starts calling female politicians the C-word. But no, no, no. He’s not a misogynist, he has three daughters, he just thinks that C-word is such a C-word he’d like to show her a thing or two. And now it’s so weird you need to take a walk or a shower. But later, when you Google the thing about Joe Biden it takes you to places on the internet you didn’t know existed and are now consumed with a dread for America that fills you like a cold ache in your bones.
Aunt: No, I am no married yet. No, I’m not concerned about my ovaries drying up because that’s not how actual human biology works. Oh, at my age you had three kids? Cool. What happened to your hopes, dreams, and joie de vivre? That’s what I thought. Gone.
Yes, I still have the same attitude I had as a two-year-old. Yep. Same one.
No, I’m not earning my food with this Turkey Trot, food does not have to be earned. But I am trying to get endorphins so I don’t slaughter you in cold blood.
Grandma: John and I are still trying for a child. We’ve been doing invitro, but have also been trying the old-fashioned way— putting all our hopes and dreams into this little gingerbread man, which I’m about to bake up, right now.
And now for something good:
Stephen Smith just told a grown adult man to grow up in a deeply satisfying way.
We need to empty our jails and prisons. That said, I do love hearing about the art created by men who are incarcerated.
Meet the Black women who fought for Ohio’s historic abortion rights win.
What I am drinking:
Friends, what am I drinking? Well, on Friday night, I will be hosting a bunch of friends and I am making them a punch that I am going to kind of make up. It will be sparking red wine, some Grand Mariner, cranberry juice, cinnamon simple syrup, and Fireball. I do not know how it will go, honestly
I think, one of the best things about this “drink of the week” section, is it reminds me how much food and drink bring us together — these are the connective tissue that hold together our best and most sacred relationships, and even our cherished and troubled ones.
And I know this holiday is shadowed by war, loss, and genocide. I know so many hearts are breaking and despairing. How do we balance shadows with light? Isn’t that the question of life and art and truly the question of our lives? I don’t know the answer to all of that. I am still learning, but, I think it involves having more space at our tables and in our hearts. And please know that I am so immensely grateful for you all.
My deepest regret is not absolutely filleting Trevor from sales with my word knife.
Growing up, my father called this “breakfast strudel” and would vehemently insist that it was, in fact, a health food. And listen, Carl isn’t wrong, also it’s delicious.
Not all dingii are included. Void where prohibited.