3 min

Moving on

Burning the diary

Credit: Xtra West files

He burned his diary this morning, on the advice of his grandmother.

He was complaining to her about breaking up with Jamie, telling her how the subject had taken up a good 20 pages of his journal.

“Diaries are written to be burned,” she told him. “That’s how we get on.”

Grandma Bud turned 75 recently, so she’s somewhat of an expert when it comes to getting on.

The family decided this birthday was cause for epic celebration. For the past month, the phones were ringing, desserts were baking, wine was hoarded and it was all planned in the most secret of ways.

Normally Will Gray didn’t mind family parties; he felt like part of a team. Even though they had made him promise not to confuse any of the small children.

Because of the birthday party’s giant hoo-hah status, it was to be attended by the family en masse, as opposed to the regular parties to which only those members that were really liked were invited.

For most of the close family, the inclusion of familial extras only meant they would dress up a bit and could no longer fart quite as openly. While these rules applied to Will as well, there was the added stumbling block of explaining his pink sheep status to a line-up of long-lost cousins laying claim to a relation which seemed, at best, dubious. And all this had to be done within the acceptable tone of bubbly party-banter.

All the run-ins were more-or-less a variation of the following:

Random Uncle-Hey there! I remember you when you were this tall. What have you been up to? I tell you, how about this weather, eh? You catch that game on the weekend? I’m a guy, you must be a guy too, huh? I bet we both have big dicks, let’s laugh at the women making food for us in the kitchen. God it’s great being a guy hanging out with your guy friends and punching them in a totally straight and non-homo way on the shoulder, eh?

To which Will would reply: I think I’ll go help with the dishes.

This is as rude as he permitted himself to be. He once got into an argument with a cousin about the stability of her gender, but he was sharply asked not to bring theory to the dinner table.

Will’s dad was driving quickly-they were late for the party, as always, and missed the big surprise. But Grandma Bud came rushing up to him, all a-glow and shouting. “Dear! Oh, I’m just flabbergasted! I had no idea!” She was wearing a big blue hat with a plume and had on her good pearls.

Over her shoulder, Will spied Crazy Uncle Gary at the makeshift bar, where he stationed himself for the majority of the night.

“He’s adopted,” whispered one of the cattier aunts, “no blood relation at all.”

“What he is,” chimed in a tipsy uncle, “is an embodiment of the argument against legalizing pot.”

Will considered Gary’s thin frame as he searched for a beer. An outcast? A loner? A hippie?

This poor soul was clearly in need of companionship. Will’s family could be kind when they chose to be; but, like guard dogs of morality, they could also turn ruthless when something smelled off. And Crazy Uncle Gary reeked.

“Hi!” he growled, “I’m your Crazy Uncle Gary!” Will looked at him and blinked. He knows we call him crazy? How very unsettling.

With a gruff exchange of introductions, the unlikely pair shook hands. “So where do you live over the summer,” Gary wanted to know “and where d’ya work?”

He had briefly moved home but wanted to take up an apartment in the West End.

“Hmm.” Gary tapped his beer bottle against the black edge of his teeth. “Be careful,” he warned, shaking the bottle with each word. “The gays live around there. You’ll probably end up bumping into them.”

“Yes.” The younger man nodded his head thoughtfully. “Constantly.”

Gary grunted in sympathy. “And where did you say you worked?”

“A bookstore,” Will replied.

“Which one?”

Here’s the moment where he decides that Gary’s ignorance might allow him to be truthful: “Little Sister’s,” Will said casually.

There was one of those audible pauses. A sip of beer.

“Well,” he licked his mustache, “I guess we know where your preferences lie.”

Grandma Bud was standing nearby and turned around to freshen her whiskey.

“William,” she said with a gossipy voice, tucking her hand around Will’s arm, “come and tell me all about that terrible ex-boyfriend of yours.” He could have kissed the old broad.

Crazy Uncle Gary puffed his red cheeks out and spun on his heels. While Grandma Bud led him away, Will said, “I thought you told me to leave all that alone.”

She looked back at Gary and replied, “I said ‘Get On,’ dear. Don’t ever leave it alone.”

Michael Harris can’t ever seem to leave it alone.