MIAMISBURG, Ohio — During a family Memorial Day barbecue, 64-year-old patriarch Ed Gardener surprised loved ones with a qualified statement of support for homosexuals, and then quickly demonstrated his ongoing prejudice for racial minorities.
In his unofficial “State of the Family” address, Gardener—can of Milwaukee’s Best Light in hand—demanded everyone’s attention while he offered some strung-together thoughts on gay men and women in America.
“When I was in ’Nam I wouldn’t have wanted to be in a foxhole with one, but I guess folks can be gay, or whatever—as long as I don’t have to see any of it,” said Gardener. “That also goes for my son, Michael, who I’m glad to have join us today.”
As nearly everybody under retirement age quickly interjected to lovingly welcome Michael and give Ed obligatory positive feedback for his half-assed attempt at basic kindness, the day-drunk dad plowed ahead.
“Most of all I’m glad we’ve kept our family pretty well all American. No thugs!” he said, laughing until he coughed. “I know Linda comes from Brazil, but she’s never had an accent—not as long as I’ve known her,” he concluded as he raised his beer.
“Most of us try and stay detached—let Ed feel like he has some actual wisdom to impart and then move on and enjoy this special time together,” said Linda Vasquez-Gardener, a second generation Ecuadorian immigrant and Mr. Gardener’s daughter in-law. “We’re glad he’s at least trying with our brother Michael. Ed can be really sweet. He has lots of friends at the American Legion club, but he’s emotionally stunted from combat trauma in the war, managed only by years of drinking lots of cheap beer. So when the family tries to have a nice celebration we basically have to put up with any his insults and weirdness.”
When asked if she thought Gardener’s tempered welcoming of his gay son was a sign of more progress to come, Vazquez-Gardener paused.
“Maybe. But I think we just have to wait for most of the folks in that generation to die off before society will have enough forward-thinking people in power,” Vazquez-Gardener said. “Oh, did you mean progress in our family? Who knows? I’ll call you when he stops bringing up ‘reverse racism.’”
Andrew Voris always appreciates the great drink specials at the American Legion.
Image by theodens.