Outfoxing your uncle can be a worthwhile pursuit, if you have the right kind of uncle. Seemingly no uncle is the wrong kind for outfoxing, yet there are particular characteristics that elevate one to a high susceptibility. Feeble-mindedness is one such characteristic. If there was a regional ranking of feeble minds, Uncle Garvin would place in the top three.

I like to call him U.G., which he dislikes on account of it sounding too similar to Eugene. He never clarified his opposition to being called Eugene. It’s more sophisticated than Garvin, and if ever there was someone in need of refinement, it was Eugene. U.G., I mean.

Uncle Garvin rarely fails to misplace his eyeglasses, but never his drink glasses. He subscribes to the theory that a certain quantity of spirits in his body brings about immunity from a swollen appendix, his greatest worry. More often, the booze shields him from clarity of thought, furthering his chances of being outfoxed. He proudly tells and retells the story of swilling three full glasses of Merlot just before bowling a lifetime high of 191. Whenever he recounts this achievement I feel compelled to finish it for the benefit of the listener by recalling that after the second frame, a bowler in the next lane went home with U.G.’s shoes. His friends concluded that he carelessly laid them under the neighbor’s chair when changing into the rented shoes. Uncle G. insisted he was the victim of a “scum thief ” born of unwed parents.

Uncle Garvin stops by uninvited on Sunday evenings to “keep a good eye” on me. His excuse never varies. I’m unsure what laws he fears I am apt to break if his supervision lapses. Though, the man does provide a level of mirth on the occasional sullen Sunday. He came by last week, wearing jeans that have seen bluer days. (There was a shirt, too). With a half-smile I informed him I had [better] plans for the night. Pretending not to hear, he slumped down into my light brown leather lounge chair which always pulled him like a magnet and developed a gentle crater from years of his not-so-gentle weekly impressions. Wanting neither to be outwardly rude nor to miss my night out, I reminded him of our conflicting agendas. He responded by suggesting a game of battleship. I responded by walking into the kitchen and out the back door.*

*I’m after an ending that makes me out to be less of an a-hole. Still, the man had it coming. And he’ll be back next week.

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