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no room for hipsters

the occupation of Ashley and Levon

Family reunions on the Addair side will have a few things in common.  They will be big, they will be hilarious, and they will be in the most beautiful country.  I think that mountain fog and country breakfast are the secret to long life and lustrous fertility.  Ashley’s grandmother has 9 kids, 57 grandchildren, 24 great grandchildren, and 4 great greats.  A baby can be handed between three grandmothers on the same side, making “Grandmother!” turn the head of half of the ladies in a room.  That’s why we admiringly say “Mother” to mean Juanita Addair who lives on the hill which used to be right outside Tazewell but now it’s not.  The hill will always be home to everybody but this year we reunited at Shonna and Zach’s new house, out past Burke’s Garden towards Rocky Gap in a valley that you would call Clearfork if you were from those curves in the road.

With some many folks at these conventions there are plenty of stories to pull.  I can give a rough account of observations for a general consensus of what I believe to have occured.  Ever since I blogged a year ago about my 2002 induction into the family which also coincided with Fathead’s release from jail and our salutation in red boxing gloves on the side of Mother’s hill, my family readership has come to expect a similar accounting of events.  Since being laid out on the lawn that day my dedication to the family and love for Ashley has never been questioned.

Ashley and I arrived Friday night to attend the Tazewell County Bulldog’s homecoming football game.  We didn’t have to know anybody because when you stand with the Addair people you know enough.  The most anticipated part of the trip this year was to see our cousin Josh who has been in Pocohontas State Prison for the last six years.  Josh is the author of our sister blog “Fear and Loathing in Prison” via the letters and drawings he sent us from the life inside.  His release was last Monday and the family had moved our reunion back a few weeks so that he could be our most celebrated attendee this year.

Tazewell is the kind of town where the homecoming football game will always be everybody’s homecoming football game and Josh was especially getting into a lot of friendly headlocks and hugs.  He was always trying to call a girl but an audience of nine cousins heckled his every word or made fun of his not knowing how to send a text message.

As the teller of family tales, I must hesitate here before resuming to what happened late that night, but I will say that it involved one car load of cousins following another car load of cousins around the windy roads of Tazewell.  In the first car, young boys on a mission and in the second car their older sister lurking through parking lots, headlights off, trying to keep everybody on the outside at least until the family reunion.  We were eventually spotted, despite diving into a few dark driveways, and after a head to head encounter in a gravel alley way only to discover their older sister and not a rival arch enemy of the family, my written account will end there.

Ashley and I were awakened early in the first bedroom on Mother’s hill by the boys from the first car, tapping our window to be let in, still in the same clothes and holding bags from Hardees.  They were looking for a place to eat and to pick up me because the morning of a family reunion is a work day for all able bodied male cousins present within the ages of 18-30.  That number could be anywhere from 10 to 20.  Soon we were loading tents and tables, mowing, clearing fence row brush, and hiding more junk in the old church.

By the afternoon the vehicles were pulling in.  Soon there was an army of kids filling the creeks, popping on the trampoline, and screaming in wagon loads behind the Gator full of bigger kids hollering over the wheel. Four wheelers rumbled and horseshoes clanged against the stakes.  Tables from the Clearfork Volunteer Fire Dept were covered in pie and trays of baked beans, fist deep under an inch of bacon.  Cows across the creek watched with indifference as the grill sputtered and belched the grease of hamburgers.

Near dusk a rifle shot thundered from over the mountain which meant little Zach had got his deer.  He, big Zach, and grandpa came back after losing the blood trail and grandpa’s glasses in the dark so reinforcements were sent.  The party moved to the fire and the smores were passed around.  I told ghost stories so scary that circles of kids would leave before I could finish.  We tried to sing campfire songs but didn’t know enough to keep it going and no Addair has ever been able to find any pitch, although they guess a lot.

The adventurers returned with a field dressed deer it was late enough for kids to have gone to bed.  Nobody had been hiding the coolers from any grandmothers for a while.  Except for my mentioning a few more four wheeler rides and some wrestling bouts, my written account will end here.  If I can get permission, I may re tell some stories that I heard told.

The rain started early in the morning and lasts to even now as I write this on Monday morning.  The pop up tents had been moved over the truck beds and Ashley and I were in an inch of water down by the creek.  The circle of fire department chairs told everything; where the fights had been, who had the sweetest tooth for chocolate, who’d done most of the talking, and who had been thirstiest, which seemed to be pretty uniform. Big Zach and I got our coffee made before heading into the rain, loading the grill from under the apple tree and cutting the deer tenderloin right off of Shane’s tailgate.  Deer was on the tailgate, I mean.  When the forces arose, angered with hunger, we toasted hamburger buns and scrambled eggs.  Coffee filled every cup in the house even to the wine glasses.

Little Zach was dominated in a board game by his mom, little sister, and cousin Ashley while the family celebrated his good shot on the deer.  Breakfast lasted into early afternoon by the time Ashley and I poured the water out of our tent and packed for Mother’s hill where surely another houseful of family would be on the rise.  It was a good move because most of the desserts had been brought there and ranks of cousins were younger and easier to fend.  Family photos were being passed and we laughed at wedding pictures of when so-and-so married so-and-so but later and married the honorable maid standing to the right of the bride of that particular day.  It’s a small town and big family.

We hated to go but the family reaches to Seymour, TN  and we had a load of yungins to get back to their parents just ahead of us.  I said we could have the reunion in Knoxville next year because I’ve got projects for my cousins and I don’t know where trouble is around here.

But it won’t happen.

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