Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Tall Corn Days

Every year, at the end of July, comes the most wonderful event. An event that brings hoardes of us back to our hometown of Sioux Rapids, Iowa to gather for drinking, good food, drinking, reunions with old friends and family, drinking, and a celebration of the tallness of corn...and drinking.

Tall Corn Days (or TCD in the VOB as it is known by the locals)

I'm not sure that anyone who isn't from a small town can understand a celebration like this. I've gotten a number of odd stares from friends who have come from a metropolitan area when I say the words Tall Corn Days to them.
"So...everyone just gets together and talks about corn?"
" mean, there's the sweet corn feed...and I guess the tall corn contest, and I guess we did have the corn costume that one time but...well, shut up! It's f#%!ing awesome!"
While it's a cherished weekend every year, this year brought it to a whole new level. Not only did I have a reunion with my best friends from high school to look forward to, but very close to the entirety of my father's side of the family would be in town (the people I credit entirely with learning my snark). It's also the time of year that my mother decides to take all kinds of shots at my already fragile ego.

The first blow came about a month before TCD when I called to let her know I'd be coming home on Friday and going home on Tuesday. I'd only been home for one weekend since Christmas, so my assumption was that she would be thrilled to have me home for an extended amount of time. The reality was the following conversation:
"So my plan is to get home around 7:30 on Friday night, and I'll be able to stay all the way through Tuesday!"
"Well...did you get a hotel room or something?"
"...uhh...a hotel room? I kind of just figured I'd stay in my room."
"Well...I've already given your bedroom to someone else, Chris."
"Seriously? Well can I sleep on the couch or something?"
"Chris, there are going to be people walking through the living room all about the porch?" 
Luckily, she called me a week later with a genius plan. I would be sleeping in the yard.

This wasn't even the only time this year that she made an attack on my psyche. You would think that after 27 years she'd be a bit more knowledgeable about dealing with an anxiety ridden gay son, but she still sends me spiraling from time to time (completely unintentionally...I hope). For instance, all of my friends know that if I come to them asking how an outfit looks and if they honestly think my shirt looks too tight, what I really need from them is to lie through their teeth because I've just spent an hour looking at myself in the mirror and I'm only asking because I feel like I look good, and I need to be reassured that I'm pretty.

When I asked my mother, she hesitated. She hesitated! I of course stormed out of the house (because, again, I was living out in the yard) and immediately changed my shirt. I put on a tried and true shirt that I always feel great in. I wasn't even going to ask her opinion this time, but when I told her I was leaving she interjected before I could leave, "You changed your shirt. This one looks tighter than the last. Have fun!" With an impressive show of strength and self confidence, I got in the car and left without even considering changing my shirt.

Then I turned around after about five minutes to grab a sweatshirt to thrown on over top and did this whenever someone tried to take my picture.

I'm not even going to discuss the time that she took a picture (with flash!) of the spot in the back of my head where my hair is thinning and showed it to me.

After getting over the trauma of speaking to my mother (mostly just getting really, really drunk), I ended up having an amazing night at the party in the park. I was thrilled to see so many people that I hadn't seen in years, and super thrilled when so many of them told me that they were regular readers of this very blog! 

Here's the deal with me and compliments: I love them, but I'm terrible at receiving them. I try super hard to be gracious and polite, but usually just end up being self deprecating beyond all reason.
"Chris, I just have to tell you, I love your blog!"
"Oh! Thank you so much for reading. It's so nice to hear that people are enjoying it. Seriously, I basically have no marketable skills, so I need to get internet famous if I have any hope of not dying penniless and alone!"
" it was good seeing you..."
That is, until I get drunk. At that point I know how awesome I am, and am just really excited that everyone else gets to enjoy it as well.
"Chris, I just have to tell you, I love your blog!"
"Oh! Thank you so much for reading. It's so nice to hear that people are enjoying it. It's getting pretty popular, everyone really loves it. How cool is it going to be when I'm internet famous and you can say you knew me when?!"
" it was good seeing you..."
"What's the funniest thing you think I've ever said?" 
Gurl, you write about your life on the internet. Calm your pits.

Another side effect of me getting drunk is a complete loss of control over my obviously gay traits. Now I'm not saying I try to pass myself off as straight when I'm home (honey, I haven't been able to hide my fabulosity since I was 12), and I don't want to insinuate that I have any real fear of an attack if I sashay into the bar with purple glitter nail polish on. But when in a small town with a bunch of drunk people, I'd rather not invite trouble.

So upon seeing a cute boy with a mohawk and a novelty t-shirt, sober Chris would have maybe given a smile and kept walking. Drunk Chris handled the situation a bit differently and marched right up to him, tapped him on the shoulder, leaned in close enough that I might as well have started nibbling his earlobe and said, "Sweetie, I'm f#%!ing living for your hair! So. Cute." He turned to me with wide eyes and said, "Dude, are you gay?"

I of course took this to mean that he was interested and immediately envisioned our entire future together. I pictured the Christmas card photo we'd take with our teacup Yorkie (a rescue of course) named Louis Phillipe. We'd style the dog's hair into a matching mohawk and I'd be looking at the camera with an "Oh you silly boys!" look on my face. The bottom would read, "Happy Holidays from Chris, Mo, and Louis Hawk-Roberts" I responded with an emphatic, "YES, I AM gay!" and he replied, "Well sit down!! Can you help me learn how to talk to girls?!"

I suppose it was better than being punched in the face, but I seriously did not have time to be this fool's Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, so I peaced out.

Sunday's hangover wasn't a fun one, and it was made less fun by the knowledge that our house was soon to be the location of a family reunion of epic proportions. Now, I come from huge family. My father has 8 siblings, and my mother has 9. Add in spouses, cousins, second cousins, significant others, distant relatives whose names I don't even know, (so on and so forth) and it makes for some seriously crowded gatherings. I thought I was ready for it, but nothing can really prepare you for a hoarde of over 50 Robertses in your backyard wearing identical bright red shirts. The belching alone (from the ladies of the family) is enough to send the weak of heart running for the door.

The whole thing was a bit overwhelming (in fact I spent most of the day just walking around saying, "This is all so overwhelming..."), but it really was amazing to see everyone. Some of my relatives hadn't been back to Iowa in 13 years, and a lot of their children I was meeting for the first time. My cousin Tara's daughter, Desi, was one of these children. I never actually spoke to Desi (mostly because I was a little afraid), but she quickly became my favorite person at the reunion. 

Desi is a gorgeous little blonde child who showed up to the reunion and stole everyone's heart with her perfect angelic blonde pigtails hanging on either side of her adorable face. The look makes you want to go up and pinch her in her little cheeks...until she turns her icy gaze on you. I have never met a child with more sass than this little girl. From the first minute you could tell that she was over. it. She was not about to fall for the old, "Don't you smile...DON'T YOU SMILE!" trick, and her screams brought the reunion to a screeching halt when Uncle Mike had the gall to try to play chase her. I was ob.sessed. 

She just can't with this group photo right now
By Tuesday I was ready to go home. The cooler that was filled with beer when I arrived was now filled with leftovers. The dirty laundry I brought home for my parents to do was clean. I had a new bag of books from the library's book sale, and I had a fresh crop of new anecdotes to share.

As exhausting as the weekend was though, I can't help but think...

Only 52 more weeks until TCD in the VOB 2014.


  1. Chris if I haven't told you I really enjoy reading!

  2. And don't forget the buttcracker. ;)

    1. I don't think I'll EVER be able to forget the buttcracker...ever. ;)