Monday, July 18, 2005

Space Aliens

Space aliens have taken over my family. No really.

Met up with my sisters and brother-in-law because my favorite great-aunt's son, Norman, was in town. This was my grandmother's sister, one of a set of twins, my Aunt Dorris and Aunt Dottie. Both were fantastically nuts. Beautiful, artistic, and off-their-ass crazy.

My Aunt Dorris lived in Flagstaff and was a founding member of the bikini ski club. She also had a mousetrap with this shrivelled up Mexican bean that she'd chewed on to get it looking just right on her coffeetable for years.

My Aunt Dottie lived in San Diego. She had a recording of the worst opera singer ever to perform in Carnegie Hall. Turns out she was this rich debutante who rented the entire hall and put on a series of performances that sold out because people just had to hear for themselves how bad she really was.

Aunt Dottie died about 5 years ago. At the Renz family reunion in 2000, we all visited her grave -- or actually -- visited their grave. They've got a double-plot and double headstone. Aunt Dorris kissed her sister's side of the stone and then flopped down on her own grave and posed for a picture. "Yep, this will fit!" she screamed, amid peals of laughter.

For anyone who's met my grandmother, this picture of her sisters comes as something of a surprise. Nanny is as tight-lipped, judgmental, dour, sour, and uptight as they come. She was the oldest of five children raised by two very serious German immigrants on a farm in Michigan. Dottie and Doris were the babies of the family. As carefree as they were, the more work was left to my grandmother. They were indulged, to say the least. Everyone responded to them with joy; she got to play the straight man to their comic routines for the rest of her life.

But that's not my point of the day. My point of the day is this: My cousin Norman works for the Pentagon. He's been a test pilot his whole career, and although he recently retired, the Pentagon wooed him out of retirement to help improve the performance of weapons we're spending billions of dollars developing and then are unable to use because they lack reliability. Ahem.

Also not my point. Here's my point: we got to talking about aliens. My brother-in-law Darryl owned a very successful t-shirt company that made its name from the alien craze of the 90s, just in time for the anniversary of Roswell's Hanger 51 (or whatever number it was). It was called alienware, and I admit, it rocked. Some crazy started e-mailing Darryl first with information about classified events that broke the news weeks later and then with death threats, after which Darryl reported him to the FBI and never heard from him again.

The more we talked aliens, the less cousin Norman spoke up, until we all got the distinct impression that we should just shut up, because there was too much he couldn't say. That, or he was just trying to work out just how much DNA we share so that he could distance himself appropriately. One of the two.

Oh, and the other thing. For those of you 9-11 conspiracy theorists out there, Cousin Norman says the plane struck the ground in front of the Pentagon and then bounced up into the building, accounting for the lack of penetration in the building. And the Pennsylvania plane was most likely not blown out of the sky but rather broke apart in the nose dive to earth.

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