Attack Of The Heads
One of my first encounters with Julies extended family came at cookout her aunt and uncle were throwing a couple years back. It was about an hour and a half drive and I was nervous as hell, because...well... everyone was going to be there. Her parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, several heads of state....a real orgy of the minds if you know what I mean. During the drive Julie was quiet, getting her to say two words was like pulling teeth, which should have tipped me off that something was wrong. Ususally Julie carries the conversation while I sit there looking pretty and nodding like a damn fool, but not this time.
"Are you okay" I asked.
"Huh...oh...yeah. I'm fine." she responded.
"You seem a little tense"
"No...no...it's just....well. We don't see this particular aunt and uncle very often. They're a little...odd."
Eventually we arrived at the house, a normal looking house, two stories...nice front porch...and one of the crappiest looking shacks of a shed I ever saw in my entire life out back. The rest of the house looked so normal I just brushed it off as an old shed they hadn't torn down yet. How wrong I was.
As we walked down the sidewalk Julie stopped and looked over at me and said, "Adam...how much do you love me?"
Ohhhh. So it was one of those families.
"Trust me Jules, there is nothing that can go on today that would ever make me stop loving you. I'm sure I'll get along just fine with everyone."
"Just remember hun, we don't see some of these people very often."
Julie rang the doorbell and a few seconds later the door was opened by a woman who had the June Cleaver look down pat.
"COME ON IN KIDS! WELCOME, WELCOME."
The inside of the house was beautiful, the type of house my mom would like. Antiques everywhere, great looking furniture and the smell of freshly baked bread that would make a fat man orgasm with one whiff of the nose. What the hell was she so worried about? Her aunt led us into the kitchen where the smell became even stronger as two piping hot loaves of bread sat on the counter, this was great. And then....it began.
"STEVE! JULIE AND HER BOYFRIEND ARE HERE!"
With that comment, came the man...the myth...the legend....Uncle Steve. If her aunt was June Cleaver, i'd consider her uncle to be the mutated spawn of Grizzly Adams and the Undertaker (you know, the wrestler?). He stood about 6'4 alteast 250 and was dressed for success. Work boots, ripped jeans, a sleeveless flannel shirt with a stained Ted Nugent t-shirt underneath.
"This is Adam, Julies boyfriend!"
He approached me, looked me up and down and just as I held my hand out to shake he slapped me on the back, almost knocking me over, and yelled out, "SO THIS MUST BE THE LUCKY GUY!"
Yeah. Thats me.
"WHY DON'T WE LET THE LADIES FINISH UP THE FOOD AND I'LL TAKE YOU OUT BACK AND SHOW YOU MY WORKSHED!"
Oh god. I followed the mountain man out the kitchen doorway when I felt Julie grab onto my arm, "I'm soooo sorry" she whispered.
As we approached the shed the smell shifted from freshly baked bread to the type of smell you'd get if a thousand farm animals crawled up the asshole of a thousand other farm animals and died. I wanted to vomit.
He led me into the shed and turned on a small overhead light,
"CAN I GRAB YOU A BEER ALAN!"
"Adam actually, but yeah, sure, i'll take a cold one."
He walked over to an old dust coverered fridge that looked like it came out of the 1940's, grabbed a can of natural light, cracked it open, took a giant swig out of it, handed it to me, and grabbed a fresh one for himself. Again he looked me up and down and offered a friendly slap on the back, again almost knocking me over.
"AH, YEAH. THIS IS WHAT IT'S ALL ABOUT."
I looked at the half empty can of beer and wondered if I would ever see Julie again. This wasn't really happening was it? As I stood in the shed I felt like I was being watched. And not just by Uncle Steve. I don't know how this wasn't the first thing that caught my eye when I entered, but I began to figure out what that ungodly smell was. It was the decor of the shed, a little different from the house, but...interesting. There had to be atleast 10 of them, maybe more....but there they were...just staring at me. Mocking me. Heads. Not stuffed heads from a taxidermy...but just...heads. A bear head, a deer head, a couple squirrel heads, and one head that i'm not sure what it was...If I had to bet i'd say it was a gator, but that just seemed to impossible.
"YOU A HUNTER ALAN?"
I looked back at the door to see who came in named Alan, soon realizing he was talking to me.
"Nah, I do a little fishing though."
"WELL THEN YOU'LL LOVE THESE!"
He walked over into the corner and picked up a bucket full of...yup...you guessed it. Fish.
"CAUGHT EM LAST NIGHT DOWN AT THE POND. BEAUTIES HUH?"
"Oh yeah, every one of them."
"I'M THINKIN' I MIGHT GRILL A FEW LATER ON THIS WEEKEND."
At that moment I heard the door open and to my amazement it was Julies dad.
"Hey Adam, Julies wants to talk to you in the kitchen," he said with a smile.
This was the first time I had ever been thrilled to see her dad burst in through a door, as I walked out the door he grabbed the can of Natural Light out of my hand, shot me a wink, and gave me a pat on the back as if to say, way to take one for the team, let me take it from here.
We ate dinner (I hardly touched it not knowing what the hell was in it) and left soon after. To make up for my horror Julie rocked my world that night like she never had before and to this day she's never come close. Oh, what a night.
It didn't stick out to me at that point in time because I had little idea as to who Ken Macha even was, but as I look back on it today there a couple of things that really make me wonder:
1. If Ken Macha packed on about 100 extra pounds and grew a beard, I'd swear he was Uncle Steve.
2. Any of those mutated heads could do a better job of managing a baseball team than Ken Macha.
Last nights A's game also made me think of that day. I was Barry Zito. The Yankees were Uncle Steve. Ken Macha was supposed to send in Julies Dad to take one for the team. You know what I mean, every major league team has that one guy on their pitching staff that comes in during blowouts to save the rest of the bullpen for those few games that are beyond hope (we as Pirate fans have come to know those few games as the Pirates season)....only Ken Macha seems to think he has five of those guys. Who in the hell uses FIVE pitchers in a 15-2 game when you still have two more games in a row against the vaunted New York Yankees?
Ken Macha. Thats who.
What a confused old man.