Scene: A mixed aged 'family' gathering a.k.a mom-dent's worse nightmare.
Today we will meet some very peculiar creatures; the Aunties and Uncle brigade. A matured female specimen is called Aunty and the male is known ubiquitously as Uncle. Their age puts them on a higher status in the social hierarchy. Hence their position expressly warrants some deference to their whims. It also implies that you must, must make a concentrated effort to put on a veneer of polite interest when speaking to them.
My interactions with them are anxiety provoking and terrifying! The conversation inevitably ends up like this:
" So Mom-dent how are you? finished yet?
"No, no, not yet, " I mutter..
"Still????? "You know, they orate conspiratorially, "Totally random person's daughter's sister-in-law's mother's aunt's daughter/son Pinkie/Babloo just graduated from what-ever-the -hell they are teaching kids in undergrad these days and they got a great job as a basket weaver in Guatemala! SO proud!
" Good for Pinkie/Babloo, please pass on my congratulations...
"But what about you?? Uncle/ Aunty expound triumphantly ( a notch louder than a fog horn, I might add!) "When will you FINISH? when the little prince finishes college???" crackles uncle dearest, guffawing at his own sense of humor, sharing a self congratulatory and smug look with all the other uncles and aunties whose radars have been piqued by this lovely and humiliating exchange.
I grimace awkwardly and try to position my lips into what vaguely resemble a smile, dying a little on the inside.
"Science takes time...... I took up another project..... I'm almost done... just have to write the thesis.." I plead looking around desperately for sweet hubs and/or wonderful parents to rescue me.
"So what do you do beta?" interjects another random aunty?
Side note: Aunties and uncles are like dodos. They attract others like them and before you know it, you are surrounded by a gaggle, all very interested in your life..
"I'm a graduate student aunty..."
"Ohhh you know my niece is doing her bachelors in who-the-frack-cares, you MUST know her !!"
" NO YOU SILLY GOOSE, I'M IN GRADUATE SCHOOL ! SHE IS A FUCKING UNDERGRAD!!"is what I want to scream , but what I end up saying is, "No aunty, my lab is located in prestigious hospital X (Don't judge! You grasp onto whatever you can to salvage your self respect at this point!) so I don't go the main campus..."
"YOU'RE a doctor?? OH Mr. XYZ 's son has some crazy shit? What's wrong with him???? They ask excitedly.
Who the hell is Mr. XYZ and how do I know what afflicts every god-damn person in this crazy community!?!? I inner monologue..
"She studies the brain!!!" chimes in uncle/ aunty number 1, before I have a chance to respond. " She sees mental kids"
I am mortified. Too flummoxed to even groan in despair. I want to melt, but I'm convinced this is Dante's inferno. There is no escape.
"Ohhh you mean like those kids who do drugs and go mad?? You know Mrs. Poor-pants son, such a brilliant boy, something is wrong with him. I keep telling his mom all he needs is some fresh air and exercise! these doctors I tell you, just want to medicate every body!!""You're a Psycho-trist, you must know how to make him right???"
"No Aunty, I'm a graduate student" I repeat for the gazillionth time.
Awkward lull in the conversation usually spurs me to look around for an opportunity to make my escape and just when I think their interest in me has finally worn off..
"She is very smart our mom-dent, she get paid to study by the "government!! pronounces uncle/aunty number 1 very authoritatively. After all she is 3/4 my family blood line! "
DANG it! so close! If only they knew.. I earn so much money that even the government feels sorry enough to not tax my poor ass. If there was a line below the poverty line, that's where graduate students would be found. Seriously.
" So what do you really do during the day and what about the little prince?" asks Aunty number 4 who mysteriously materializes from the ether.
I patiently and earnestly try to explain the glorious and wonderful work I do until her eyes glaze over and she change the topic to her favorite grandchild, the basket weaver..
I listen and nod my head at appropriate junctions hoping desperately for the earth to open up and swallow me in its warm, non-judgmental bowels.. alas no such luck.
"What about little prince? he stays home with you?" "No Aunty, he goes to day care when I'm at work.."
"But you work from home too no????" she asks, perplexed?
"Yes sometimes, bu...."
" You should keep him at home. It's not good for the kids. Besides what do you do all day at home any way??" she states disapprovingly " which reminds me, how about lunch with my friend's daughter's husband's niece? She needs some advice about something science-y. I'll tell her to call you since you are freee " (pointed emphasis on the free).
"But... but.. but I'm not!!! I'm working from home!! I have deadlines, I have articles to write...
"OK, OK... so 2.30 then??
"fine." I concede in defeat. " tell her to call me at 2.30..........