Aunt Karen is Weird

It’s always Sweater Day somewhere…


“Why are you wearing a sweater? It’s downright warm in here.”

“I’m participating in National Sweater Day.” Aunt Karen’d really gone for it, too. She rocked back and forth in her threadbare lazyboy— relic of the eighties— proudly swamped in a triple XL, maroon, blue and green knit sweater bearing silhouettes of moose and their ostensible cabin by a pine home, with smoke rising from the chimney and cross-stitched across her bosom. Aunt Karen is a trim woman, so the sweater looked like a gown on her, or like a pillow that’s been worn flat inside its cover.

“Is that like, international talk like a pirate day or something?”

“Yes, but it’s not an international thing. Just one country.”

“So America is pioneering the idea of wearing sweaters all on one day? Is this a Bernie sanders thing?”

“Actually, no. It’s National Sweater day in the Netherlands.”

I raised an eyebrow. Now is a good time to tell you we were sitting in Aunt Karen’s half of a duplex in Stillwater, Arkansas and are in no way related to anything Norwegian… err… Netherlandish. In a record warm year, in a duplex where Karen couldn’t control the thermostat, as well. It was in her neighbor’s side of the wall.

So her show of sweater solidarity was kind of stupid.

Karen shrugged. “You know, I saw it on the Internet and I found this sweater, it belonged to your Uncle Allessandro, so I thought I’d join in.” Uncle Ales was Karen’s husband, a large, jovial man that equaled Karen and her likewise diminutive brother plus some. He was three years dead now, from fatty liver disease. It apparently runs in the family.

I looked at Karen’s brother, Uncle Tony. “You let her on the Internet?”

“It was just my blog,” Tony answered defensively from behind the bar. He held a Miller Lite in one hand, dressed in just a wife beater and baggy jeans. His website was centered around crime fighting and motorcycles. And movie reviews. His review of “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” was a real ringer. Motorcycles and a bigger gun was his answer to the film’s finer points of tension, as well as the supposition that “it’d be hotter if she had like, a hot zombie girlfriend.” The most depressing thing about Uncle Tony’s blog was that he garnered over two hundred followers in a month.

“Look, you should have a care, you might just learn something from the Netherlanders.”

“I don’t think they’re called Netheranders.”

“How do you know, have you ever met one?”

“No, but—”

“Well, then you don’t know. Now. C’mon,” she waved me up as she trundled for the car keys on the bar between the kitchen and the living room.

“You’re going to go out, in that?” I waved at her.

“Yes, and go all about town, and tell everyone because, unlike your mother, I believe that you and your as—yet theoretical offspring are worth saving. Even if that means I have to something as ridiculous and dumb seeming as march around the Wal-Mart and the post office in Les’ sweater. Just think, if everyone did one simple thing. Everyone in the world, eight billion simple things would be done at once.”

I looked over at Uncle Tony as she quoted the number. He shrugged and took a pull of his Miller. “It’s an educational site. All kinds ah numbers and stuff.”

Karen continued. “Eight billion little things sounds an awful like like one big thing, to me. Like saving this planet, and the creatures on it God has entrusted to us.”

Aunt Karen leaned back and tugged at the over-sized moose-trousity hiding her figure. “Believe it or not, it is possible to love you this much, you little rat-faced heathern.”

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