I forced myself to get to bed last night around 1:00 AM
, as I'd set the alarm for 7:00 this morning to allow enough time for a shower and to try and wake up before we went to the airport.
The Father In Law
lives in a small town in Arkansas
, and the Older Sister
and my wife had got the idea that instead of trying to invite him here (considering the recently finalized divorce) and make things 100% more complicated for everyone
, they should try to visit him there for an afternoon, take him to lunch and open gifts, then get the hell out of Dodge
before things had enough time to get weird or an argument break out. The two Sisters and their families would make the trip, since the Middle Sister
(his favorite) has plans to spend the week after Christmas
They had chartered a plane that would take us from the private field here to the tiny airport in Arkansas
. The flight there was pretty quick, though the little prop planes are always a bit spooky, as I feel like we're buzzing along inside a soup can. The FIL
met us shortly after we arrived, as a tail wind had put us there early. We were actually relieved to be able
to land, as a heavy fog had threatened to send us to the next available airport to wait out the weather, but had cleared enough for us to make it in. We loaded into the suburban and the FIL
drove us the ten minutes to the family's nearby ranch, which I'd always heard a lot about but had never visited with the wife due to the estranged relationship the FIL
has had with the family since I've been in the picture.
The family gave me a tour of the main house, a large and rambling two story affair, then we went across the driveway to the workshop/office that the ranch hands use as an office and eating area, which is also filled with various pieces of local artists work and antique items. The tour next took us to the 'antique house', which is immediately adjacent and is a large open floor plan two story house that is filled with a cafeteria-like set-up of numerous tables for entertaining and has five bedrooms and sleeping areas in the upstairs. It is filled with larger scale antique furniture that dominates all of the sitting areas and displays a large collection of pottery. Down the lawn closer to the road is yet another house of a more modest scale, though it is still a three bedroom affair. It looks to be from the 70's era, if the decoration and size is any indication.
We finished the tour with the chapel that is located across the property, past the main house. It's dedicated to the Mother In Law
's biological father, who was killed in WW2
, and was something that she was quite proud of, and now stands on a piece of land that she'll most likely never visit again now that she's divorced. Life is full of fucked up curve-balls.
After the walking tour, we loaded up to head into town to have lunch, which was a pretty decent meal at a Mexican
food place favored by the locals. The FIL
drove us around a bit afterward to show me a bit more of the tiny town, which was an interesting look into small town life. I did get to see the main offices of the bank chain they own, as well as one of the satellite locations, and then we headed back to the ranch where we drove around the circumference of the three man-made lakes that were created and named in honor of the three grandchildren. The Older Sister
's kids were happy to see that 'their' lakes were frequented by both ducks and the cattle that roam the grounds.
We eventually headed back to the main house and the Older Sister
gave the FIL
gift, which was one of the Kindle
readers that Amazon
has been pushing, only to discover that the wireless connection required for it to operate to its fullest capacity doesn't exist in the small town that her Father
lives in, or at least not at the ranch. The FIL
seemed fairly unimpressed, which is kind of shitty, but that seems to be par for the course for his dealings with his family and children, so whatever. I mean, it's not a technology that he will immediately understand
, but I honestly do think he'd enjoy using it if he took the time, but who knows if he'll bother or not? This is why the wife and I send fruit and salmon or some other kind of food product to him for Christmas
, at least it's nothing he has to try and learn how to use.
has always seemed like a pretty stand-offish person, not very outgoing, and there's always long and borderline uncomfortable silences as no one speaks, presumably for fear of having him snap at them about whatever. This afternoon was no exception, though I did try to engage the conversation more often than I normally would, just because I felt like it would take pressure off the two Sisters
and I did have a few questions because the entire area was a new experience to me. Considering the sorta tense relationship that the Sisters
have with the FIL
, I have also made a point when he's around of trying to draw him into conversation, or just to get a laugh out of him (which usually works, he seems to get my sense of humor pretty easily) rather than let the odd silences lie and have him suddenly pop off with some kind of shitty question to the women, or make some kind of snide comment. I noticed today that the Brother In Law
was fairly quiet most of the time, which kind of surprised me, as I guess I was expecting him to maybe take some of the pressure off his
wife as well, but it really didn't happen. I suppose technically I'm just projecting my own feelings onto him, he may just have no interest in being involved in the situation because he's been in the family much longer than I have. Who knows?
I also have the luxury of not having been around this man when he was younger and more of an intimidating figure, so I don't know how I'd react now had I been around 10 or 15 years ago when he was a bit more full of piss and vinegar. I think a lot of how people deal with him now is based on residual feelings from past encounters rather than current situations.
The entire afternoon ws very surreal, from the fog covered landing, to the overcast day exploring the grounds of their enormous estate and the odd drive through town, it all had a crazy off-kilter feeling to it. I wasn't necessarily put off by it, but just had to keep telling myself that it was happening and I wasn't having some fucked up drawn from the wife's memories or something.
The gift thing having fallenl somewhat flat, we all started looking at the clock a bit, as we'd told the pilots that we'd be heading back between 3 and 4, and it was around 3:30 at this point. The FIL
had actually wandered off somewhere else in the house, so we had to kind of track him down after they gave up on trying to get the Kindle
thing set up and let him know that we had to start heading back. The general idea was that perhaps the Middle Sister
or the Idiot Brother In Law
could perhaps have greater success in showing him how to get started using the device.
drove us to the airport, we unloaded and said our goodbyes, then boarded the small plane and flew out around 4:00 in the afternoon The whole visit lasted about four and a half hours and had a much greater toll on the Older Sister
than it did on the wife, thankfully. The Older Sister
had definitely had a few choice remarks thrown her way over the course of the afternoon, but the wife had seemed to escape unscathed, which made me feel as though I'd done my job for the day. I haven't ever heard the man say anything too pointed to her in my presence, and what little he has said I spoke up to defend her, at which point he has laughed off what he'd said as if he were joking, which I let lie. That's something else about some of the passive agressive comments that get thrown around with him, if you call him on it or kinda zing him back, he seems to back off, which defuses it enough for things to not get ugly.
The flight home went pretty smooth, we landed safely and headed to the house to check on tentative plans for dinner that'd been made with the Hairdressers
. The plans fell through, so we called in an order for Thai
food and picked it up, taking the Yorkie
along for the ride just because she'd been left alone all day.
We ate and watched a few Venture Brothers
re-runs and a Ron White
performance on Comedy Central
before the wife called it a night and headed to the bedroom. I popped in the earbuds and listened to an older episode of Mail Order Zombie
on the iPhone
while I wrapped a couple of Christmas
gifts for the wife. The wife unfortunately proved to be unable to sleep after a brief nap during the television time earlier, so she got up and we talked some more about the day while I picked up the kitchen a bit and got some recycling stuff ready to go for tomorrow afternoon.
I finally head to the office to work on this while the wife headed back to bed to chill and hopefully get some rest.
Be seeing you.Tag, you're it, Baggy Eyes! Travel
, Christmas Presents
, Venture Brothers
, Ron White
, Mail Order Zombie
Labels: Arkansas, Christmas, Comedy, In-Laws, iPhone, Kindle, Lunch, Mail Order Zombie, Podcasts, Presents, Ron White, Television, Travel, Venture Brothers