The Savages

In 1987 (I think) I married a Savage, a real Savage, not some bullshit pejorative nickname, but a real Savage. That was her last name. So now, no matter what their last name actually is, all my in-laws are Savages.

I spend every Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter and random other dates with the Savages. For the past decade a lot of those Savage parties have moved to the bear’s house, and now I play host to the Savages way more often than any human should have to do.

The Savages are mostly like other people, except when it comes time to eat. They eat early — dinner at 11 a.m. Who the fuck eats dinner before noon — the fucking Savages that’s who.

And they come hungry. They descend on the house like wolves and gather in a pack around the kitchen. The appetizers, cheese, nuts and crackers better be out when they walk in or they start pulling open the fridge, sniffing around the pantry and hunting for their own food with those blank Savage eyes and Savage jaws set for chewing.

If they can’t find food, the criticism starts: “Are we early? Where’s the chips? Hey this light switch is broken. Are you ever going to paint that door.”

Give ’em some fucking chips and margaritas, or your self-esteem will reach a new all-time low before the spaghetti is ready.

They eat fast and loud too. It’s more screaming than conversation, and they think nothing of yelling over each other across the room to different tables. Simultaneously they are shoveling buckets of ravioli, enchiladas or turkey into their mouths. The actual mealtime can be measured in seconds, but the event takes hours.

The Savage women are big and strong (average height for the female is over 6-feet in my generation) and there’s no lack of equality in the group — until it comes time to cook or clean for the family. The males are hounded, harassed and hassled out of the kitchen, until they learn it’s just better to take refuge on the coach and wait for the cleaning storm to pass.

After the storm, come the card games. They face off against each other across long tables and start dealing the gin rummy. The volume of the dinner screaming increases as the drinks switch to wine or water, and it’s a no-holds barred shit storm of politics, family relationships, histories of slights and grievances and chants against “cheating” at cards. The din is only interrupted when the addition for the score gets difficult, and you can hear 2 or 3 Savages trying to do math out loud at one end of the table and the others grow briefly quiet to let them concentrate.

A new generation of Savages has been drawn into the games, and several millennials have picked up the tradition. There seems to be no end in sight, and unfortunately for me this group of Savages is not an endangered species. The millennials are already starting to multiply, and it feels like the Savage meals will continue long after I die.

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