Sunday, May 11 2003
The core of our wedding guests had stayed at Twin Lakes, the micro-resort in Hurley across the Esopus Valley. Today Twin Lakes hosted a picnic lunch for those still in town, a group of about forty people.
The weather was cloudy but otherwise nice, and soon after we arrived I went canoeing on one of the lakes with both John's girlfriend Julie and small plastic cup of Sam Adams. We rowed to the far end where the water "smells like fart" and then turned around and rowed back. The other people on the lake at the time were a couple of the Milwaukee guys paddling a small flat-bottomed boat. They were goofing around and making fun of each others' rowing technique in a manner that did nothing to dispel stereotypes. After they landed, one of them commented to the other "we were a lot straighter coming back" without realizing what he'd said.
After I'd loaded my paper plate with some pasta salad and a veggie burger, I looked around at the tables trying to decide where to sit. It was like being in high school all over again, only this was my own wedding picnic. I decided to sit with the uncool kids at the DeMar table, the one farthest away. DeMars are spread all over the continental United States and don't communicate with each other all that much, but whenever they go some place together they always clump up and resist the process of digestion. Not long after I sat down, our table was joined by John and Julie, though I suspect John was carrying out more of his ad hoc genetics research.
Actually, I was carrying out some research of my own. I looked at the faces of these maternal relatives, the collective gene pool from which half my nature had been copied. Genetics is a distinctly digital discipline, but to me, my relatives looked like frozen frames of a much more analogue, dynamic process. It was more like weather than anything else, just as unpredictable and sublime. I could easily imagine the genes swirling between them and among them and then down to me and my brother and my oldest cousin Kent (who had made it to yesterday's party; he'd been sitting by himself wearing a tee shirt emblazoned with 200 decimal places of pi). Unlike weather, though, the state of the genes in any one person is fixed for a lifetime. If you awake from infancy to discover you have the drizzle of fussiness or the hailstorm of risktaking, then you are stuck with it for four score and ten.
The climate pervading my family, at least on this side, was Asperger's syndrome, the quirky, socially-inappropriate genius at the gates of autism. I could see different aspects of its n-dimensional form in all of them. Finally I understood that my brother was no anomaly at all, just a freak concentration of some of the more debilitating aspects of a family curse.
After lunch, a small group of us went off to play some completely unstructured volleyball while Uncle Bob's dog Venus ran around between us, obsessively (but hopelessly) trying to get us to reorganize to her liking. Eventually Sally came running through, grabbed a sweater, and made a big show of breaking its spine.
When the long process of hug-flavored good-byes stretched beyond my tolerance threshold, Gretchen suggested I take the car and drive home. It was a great idea. The days of relentless socializing had exhausted me even more than I knew, resulting in a prolonged nap this afternoon.
Just as I began to nod off, a thunderstorm began throwing its clumsy weight around the eastern fringe of the Catskills. It seemed the scissor-happy gods had blessed our marriage, leaving open a window of good weather just large enough for all of our planned festivities.
In the evening, Gretchen's parents (who were still in town) came over and joined us and Dina (who was still staying in our second guest room) for the eating of leftovers and the watching of our favorite Sunday night television shows, particularly Six Feet Under and The Ali G Show, neither of which was quite as good as usual.
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