Arlington, TX — Daniel Graves approaches family reunions each year by focusing for several days ahead on proper hydration.
The Graves family gets together twice a year — a summertime pool party and a Christmastime celebration. On both occasions, patience and livers are put to the test.
Given the geographical spread of the families, it usually takes some time and some alcohol to give them the social lubricant they need in order to interact once again. The evening usually follows a similar pattern that happens unconsciously.
“First, the kids and some of the adults swim, which is fun. It actually takes a lot to make swimming not fun, so everyone usually enjoys that. But by the time the swimming’s done and the alcohol starts to kick in, that’s when the fun really starts.”
Graves recounts the familiar pattern that happens yearly. It starts with his Aunt laughing at anything and everything, with increasing volume. Aunt Louise brings her own private stash of bourbon in a flask, usually “Ancient Age”. “She thinks she’s sneaking those pours into her Sprite, but everybody knows what’s going on. And we definitely know when she starts cackling at everything. There’s really nothing you can do at that point but just join in on getting sloshed. And that’s where the multi-day prep makes the difference between being a troll for two days and being able to handle sunlight.”
Shortly after that, cousin John starts asking for more beer, loudly. “Every year, John brings absolutely nothing, and whenever he sees the beer bucket is out gets all indignant, like someone just fucking owes him that beer.”
Graves does his best to stick to a regiment of one alcoholic drink followed by a glass of water. However, the grueling marathon of banal conversation and seeing the rest slowly slip into oblivion pushes the limits of his endurance.
Eventually, someone gets on the little-used piano and begins banging away. Suddenly, half the family is there, drinks in hand, singing. “Basically, if you’re not wasted by the time they start singing at the piano, you might as well call it a night. But, if you’re drunk enough, it’s actually pretty fun to join in. At this point, if you haven’t had multi-day hydration prep and have not been keeping your regiment up during the evening, you’re going to be a vampire for a couple of days. And not one of those sparkly fuckers. I’m talking full on Bela Lugosi.
If things go long enough, people will just sit there, still drinking, and tell the same stories they’ve told at the last 9 of these things. Over and over and over again. At this point, everyone is slurring and sloshing drinks. I don’t know how my wife managed when she came to one of these pregnant. She won’t talk to me about it. I’ve asked, and she just says, ‘well, I’m not pregnant this year, so pass the tequila’.”
“I pass her the tequila, and a bottle of water.”