Tell a FriendLeigh AnneLeigh Anne Jasheway ~ Queen of Stress

The Theory of Relativity

The holidays are just around the corner, so naturally oneís mind flits to ways to avoid oneís relatives. Okay, maybe thatís not true for everyone, but if you grew up in the kind of family that didnít have Norman Rockwell holidays, but Norman Bates holidays, you know what I mean. (To this day, I canít shower with a 15 lb. turkey without having a panic attack!)

Yesterday, I ran through my list of possible excuses for keeping my distance (I keep the list on the computer, organized by date, so that I donít re-use excuses back-to-back. For example, this year, I will not claim that Step 11 of my latest twelve step program prohibits me from air travel or consumption of gelatinous fruits.) As I was contemplating my options, it occurred to me that thereís almost nothing more difficult to understand than why families are the way they are. Except, perhaps, physics.
Then it occurred to me Ė maybe if we applied the laws of physics to families, we might gain a better understanding of one or the other. Or, if not, at least our heads would explode and wouldnít that be a grand excuse for dodging familial commitments!
So letís try it and see what we come up with.

Letís start with the theory of "relativity." Those of you who were geeks in high school Ė and you know who you are Ė will remember that this theory postulates the existence of a space-time continuum. This applies perfectly to family dynamics. Take my case, for example. I live in Oregon and most of my craziest relatives live in Florida, which, according to the space-time continuum, is way the hell away, both in space and time. Thus, we are both able to exist in our own little universes without fear of a second Big Bang.

Einstein, the father of relativity, also predicted that time slows as you approach a black hole. Have you ever noticed that when you go to your parentsí house for the holidays, time seems to come to a standstill? Or even go in reverse? Itís clear isnít it? Ė your parentsí house is a black hole.

On one point, Einstein was barking up the wrong tree (something he often did when he misplaced his bifocals). He stated firmly that there is nothing faster than the speed of light. Obviously, he must have been unaware of the speed of guilt. Guilt can arrive before light even gets its running shoes on. And that goes double for Jewish and Catholic families. If you came from a family thatís a little of both, all I can say is "Oy vay, Mary, mother of God, you donít stand a chance!"

There are other scientific laws that also help explain your relatives. For example, if you have a mother, you know that for every action, there is an equal and opposite criticism. Whether itís your hairstyle or your lifestyle, a good mother will never let one slip by. Itís the scientific method.

Then thereís the law of entropy: "Bodies in motion tend to stay in motion. Bodies at rest tend to stay at rest." Does this not sound like your family at Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Winter Solstice, Kwanzaa, National Digestive Distress Day, or whatever holidays you celebrate this season? Not to be stereotypical, but the bodies in motion tend to be female bodies as they prepare meals and clean up afterwards, while the bodies at rest tend to be the male bodies, lying on the sofa watching bowl games. Months later, when you finally get around to dusting the living room, itís the bodies at rest that tend to turn up right where you left them.

Another scientific law that goes a long way to help us understand our families is the theory of matter and anti-matter. If you have a female spouse/partner/significant other/other or teenage daughter, you are probably very familiar with this theory. The female person arrives home one day, looking despondent. You ask, "Whatís the matter?" She responds "Nothing! And itís all your fault!" In the battle between matter and anti-matter, anti-matter invariably wins.

Well, there you go. Everything you needed to know about the physics of your family. Hope your head didnít explode. And if it did, hope you have good mop!

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