Family Ain’t a Holiday, funny (JMag – 2010)
At the end of each year, many young Australians make the pilgrimage back to their family homes. Here, they try and assimilate with their parents and grandparents, whom are more or less middle-age frenemies they have nothing in common with. Before entering the weatherboard compound, the subject is forced to undergo a strict quarantine procedure – a sniffer dog hunts down tobacco while a sniffer Dad looks for traces of homosexuality. A Mum operated x-ray evaluates their posture, while senile officials determine whether hairstyle and dress sense match the strict requirements stated in the Backwards Act of 1955.
Many students and artists reach their homes in a poor state. A year of checking emails and talking about their ideas for a film has left them nervous and withdrawn. Their family tries to be sensitive to the highly tailored needs of the individual they have known very little about since they stopped watching Ninja Turtles by feedings them chops. The subject is then forced to undergo a rigorous interview about their motivations for coming home, how long they plan to stay, and a breakdown of their income, complete with audit from the Bank of Mum. The subject usually becomes agitated and is tranquillised with ‘anti-defensiveness cordial’ also known as Sherry.
The teenager 2.0 may spend some time trying to spiritually reconnect with their family home, only to find their bedroom has become the Times Square for cat ornaments. They may realise some of their treasured possessions have vanished such as a box of Juice magazines, roller blades and the complete X-Files on VHS. Accusations will be met with a passive aggressive manipulation of childhood guilt, offering of one of Aunt Jenny’s fruit fingers and an invitation to put together an Andre Rieu jigsaw. This offer will be declined, until it is evident that YouTube doesn’t work well with dial-up and it’s not wise to get the Bank of Mum CEO offside.
Being the end of year, the modern young person will be eager to relax and treat their family visit as a holiday. The child’s flaunting of such time-wealth will be deeply resented and punished with a meticulous campaign of psychological torture. This will comprise of the curtains being ripped open at eight oclock every morning as the subject is made to watch Sunrise, their eyes pinned open by a mugaccino of International Roast. They will try hard not to think about the fact they could be on a beach in Thailand or bumming around Berlin if they hadn’t spent all their money on alcohol and grain waves. All further attempts to unwind will be countered by a relentless parental work ethic – a front for undiagnosed OCD. The sound of vacuuming drowned out by swearing at the dog who only barks because the cricket is up so loud.
After a few days the young person will have the distinct feeling they are being held captive. As if their family are trying to break them in an attempt to find out their secrets, such as whether it’s really true they have no idea what they’re doing with their life. In turn, the family will unfurl the second wave of their operation in the form of a family bbq. (There will be beetroot.) The twadult (between teenage and proper adulthood) will be faced with the terrifying task of operating the Rubik’s gas BBQ while finding a way to express they don’t eat meat. They will then be interrogated by a fleet of family friends and grim cousins all wanting to know in twenty five words or less what it is they do and how much money they are making. “You had me at hello. You lost me at ‘voluntary work in Cambodia.’”
A rise in the reports of Post-Mum-Syndrome in both sexes has authorities advising young people not to travel home unless they are in a strong physical condition. Doctors are prescribing a shot of vitamins and minerals that will help buffer against eating so much chicken as well as a sedative that will alleviate the anguish of watching Millionaire Hotseat, also known as Sherry.