Uncle Barry

Think about your weirdest family member and write one short scene that depicts why he or she is such an oddball.
-642 Tiny Things to Write About

I suppose it is a common knowledge that there is always a fuck-up within the big family, or that one person who everyone gossip about for no particular reason. There is also the one who is always side-lined, and there are also those who are downright–what’s the word–weird. Mainly, if you have missed any of the classification mentioned about, you are probably that person in the family. It’s harsh, but, well, the chances that a perfect family exists is just as fat as a family with no judgmental aunts or zero good-for-nothing uncles.

Speaking of which, let me tell you a story about one of my many uncles. Let’s call him Uncle Barry.

Uncle Barry lives up to the stereotype of those people in the family who are always financially battered to the point where you pity his wife and kids, and the only way you can be at ease helping them is if you willingly give the money and never expected any in return. That’s right: rule number one, do not lend him money, and rule number two, if you did, then for your own sake, it’s best to consider it charity.

But what makes Uncle Barry stands out is that other than his impulsiveness when it comes to business opportunities, he is also a man who puts his belief and opinions on his sleeves. He is very outspoken about the “revelations” and “enlightenment” he had, often unashamedly advising us the young ones how to lead on with life and all. He loves philosophizing his lofty ideals at that moment and just fits it into examples that are mostly too over-simplified. I assure you, there is always new stuff for him to share every Chinese New Year’s eve, mostly religious, but arguably less relevant.

About 9 years ago, he showed a strong affinity to Christianity that he himself will speak as if he’s this new pastor coming to town, ready to evangelize everyone in the room. He actually asked my great uncles to stop smoking as he had, claiming it is God that has strengthened him, “prying him from the claws of the satanic hold of nicotine addiction”. He’ll talk about how he believed God will bring him to financial abundance for his faith soon, which makes me think he misconceived God as Santa Claus. A couple of years later, he professed his faith in Islam–which is hardly convincing as the only thing he did was blurt out Arabic greetings and exclamations–and thus continue in spreading his newfound belief, with much passion, but less actual teachings. The next year, he’s a heavy-smoker again, claiming that life just went on and nobody gives a shit whatever happens to you. His impromptu musings about taking control of life, working hard and moving forward, is almost inspirational until we remember he’s jobless, in debt, and that his wife needs to basically clean up all his mess.

Talking about “actions speak louder than words”, eh?

Us kids are quite used to his magnanimous laughter, or basically all his big-shot sort of behavior in the family meet-ups. My cousins, siblings and I wonder how it is possible for him to have such a huge self-esteem and confidence in himself; a little too much, quite frankly; that he never really shows embarrassment or guilt for taking back his words and all.

But at least his life taught us that it is difficult to seek for certainty and comfort. Inquiries and changes are welcome, and Uncle Barry is an extreme proof that we never stop learning new things about ourselves, even if we’re much, much older already.

Yet to be fair, we are also immediately reminded to always think before we act, or filter our mouths, for that matter.

Maybe extremity is the main factor of one’s oddity?


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