Better to Byrne Out than to Fade Away

As I’ve said before, family gatherings can be stressful. Growing up, I had visions of big family reunions. Barbecues in the backyard, cousins and aunts and uncles from all corners of the globe getting together and having a good time. At times the reality was everything I wanted and more so whereas others were just me and a long stream of an internal mantra going, “Don’t judge me, don’t judge me, don’t judge me.”

To my own family, I have finally reached a point where I can honestly say that I love them and will do everything in my power for them, but I will no longer seek or require their approval. In return, I will continue my policy of not judging them for their decisions and giving them the same love and respect I ask for.

That being said, any encounter with a new group of people is going to have it’s ups and downs. Meeting John’s family in Brunswick was one such example. I’ve already met a number of the people within his social circle to varying degrees of success. But these are the people who share a chromosome or two on the genetic level and he is still very much in contact with some of them.

We met at Byrne’s Tavern, an Irish themed pub located at the train station where the Downeaster  from Boston stops.

Not to be confused with the Downeaster Alexa.

Not to be confused with the Downeaster Alexa.

Instantly I was at home with all of the kitsch and the decor but especially after the Reuben sandwich with mashed potatoes came out. There was a short debate over whether or not I would be comfortable sitting where I was or moving to another seat so I could better talk with… more people. I was already sitting at one end with two of John’s relatives and I had made a great effort to shake everyone’s hand before the ordering began, so I didn’t see any real advantage to changing seats just yet. After all, I knew exactly one person in this group, so there was an equal chance of impressing and/or offending everyone no matter where I sat. Fortunately it was more of the latter than the former.

I think the moment when I really endeared myself to everyone was later on at a concert in the park. The band was Cilantro and they began the season very nicely, I thought. Probably not as good as Salt and Pepper, but definitely less abrasive than the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Now that I have assured my place among the band’s collection of voodoo dolls, let me move on to the story of the Twins.

Sitting a short distance from our semi-circle of folding chairs was a family with their two year-old twin boys. After a short period of time, we began chatting with the parents, asking them how old they were, etc. Then I chimed in with,

“You know what they say about twins?”

“What” The mother asked, apprehensively.

“There was too much awesome for God to put in one person.” I replied.

“Wow, thank you!” The mother said.

The father said, “That’s seriously the nicest thing anyone has ever said. Usually we get comments like ‘oh no, double trouble’, etc.”

It might have been windy and a little chilly in the park that day, but I think the temperature got ten degrees warmer. All I could do was smile and say, no problem. But however awkwardly I might have behaved in the tavern, I think it would be an effort to disappoint John’s family after that brief exchange between myself and two parents who were genuinely grateful that a complete stranger didn’t pass judgment on their children.


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