My Family's Cookout

My Family’s Cookout


I come from a family that doesn’t know how to argue and then get on with life. They argue and then stop talking—usually for years until they’ve both forgotten why they weren’t speaking and then one of the other family members invites them both over along with other relatives and all is back to normal.

Back to normal is the wrong term. Normal is the not talking part. So replace back to normal with back to talking. Everyone watches the two non-talkers now talk and catch up with kid stuff and the like.

I think if any of the family of my mother’s generation had friends and socialized outside the family everyone’s life would be smoother, but they don’t.

Aunt Ester decided to have a 4th of July cookout and called her sister Becky and told Becky to call Alice and tell everyone to use the printed phone tree to call the next person on the list.

This would’ve worked fine if Alice had remembered to call Dotty but she didn’t but Dotty was supposed to call Alma and luckily Alma ran into Becky in the grocery and said she’d see her at Ester’s. Becky called Ester and wanted to know why she didn’t call her and Becky said she called Alice and Alice was supposed to call her.

This call and blame, oh so normal in this family, circled the phone lines a few times and when the day came everyone showed up at Ester’s with the same food they always bring: Alma potato salad, Becky Jello mold, Dotty, peach cobbler, and soon the outdoor picnic tables were filled with food and drink.

The kids were all at one table and had a great time playing horseshoes and Nerf ball, while the adults all sat eating and passing the dishes around without saying a word to each other. All the kids were sent up to their Aunt Ester to say goodbye and thanks.

Paul Beckman

Paul Beckman’s a retired air traffic controller. He was also one of the winners in The Best Small Fictions 2016! His latest collection of flash stories, "Kiss Kiss" (Truth Serum Press) is available at Amazon or his blog Some places his stories been published: Literary Orphans, Matter Press, Connotation Press, and Pank. Paul lives in CT and his website is

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