Y.P.R.'s R.N.C. in N.Y.C. 2004
My Keynote Address for Tonight’s Family Dinnerby
Thank you so much. Thank you.
Thank you, Lorraine Driscoll, for that introduction. What can I say about my wife? She makes us so proud. Miles, pass your sister the milk.
First, let me express the honor I feel in addressing this family dinner. Let’s face it, as a short, unathletic geek from New Jersey, my presence at this table is quite unlikely.
(MURMURS OF ASSENT.)
My parents were divorced, my grandparents did not go to college, and only one of my ancestors—my Grandma Lucy—could pronounce the word “quinine.”
But despite my origins in the dark suburban jungle, my friends, I dreamed. And I had faith. And, quite often, I played with Hot Wheels.
Tonight, at this meal, we are called on to reaffirm our values, to see how we are measuring up to the legacy of our increasingly senile forbearers and our promises for the future, particularly the ones we made to the dentist about flossing. And I say to you, my fellow family members: We have more work to do.
Because tonight, my friends, someone will not eat all of her corn. Someone will merely pick at the cob, claiming that her braces make it impossible. But this isn’t really true. And we can do better!
(SMATTERING OF APPLAUSE.)
And because tonight—around this very table—someone is going to smother his chicken in so much ketchup that it will be hard to determine whether it has been eaten. But he will still expect his full share of dessert. And, I say, we CAN do better!
And because tonight—even on this stirring and historical night—someone will get tired kind of early and maybe have a headache leaving me to watch “Law and Order” reruns alone on the couch. And, I have to believe, at least on this front, that we can and we MUST do better!
While I acknowledge these weaknesses in our family, I am profoundly optimistic about our future. Ours is a great family because we have faith, we have unity and we have TiVo. The spin-masters and negative ad-peddlers will try to split us asunder, suggesting that parents and kids have fundamentally different visions for this family. But I have news for them! E pluribus unum: out of many, one minivan.
(DISTINCT PANTING FROM DOG UNDER TABLE.)
We yearn for an awesome ice-cream sundae on the parent side of the table, and we watch “Seinfeld” reruns on the kid side of the table!
We dread the president’s pronunciation of ‘nuclear’ on the kid side of the table, and, yes, the parent side of the table wouldn’t mind some time alone with the GameCube!
We are one family, all of us pledging allegiance to the Brazilian women who clean the house every other Tuesday!
My wife, my daughter—my son, my pets, I believe a righteous wind is at our backs. Or possibly someone left the back door open.
Tonight—if you feel the same exhaustion that I do, if you feel the same fatigue that I do, if you feel the same overwhelming desire to crawl into bed that I do—then you know what is before us!
We must go forth and not get hauled into the principal’s office or wind up dating a boy named “Hot Sauce.” We must ignore the e-mail we just got from the old boyfriend who makes way more money than me and owns a place in the Hamptons. And—yes, I know—we must stop “inadvertently” visiting Web sites with the word ‘moist’ in the URL.
If we just pull together—as one family, as one loving, non-gay nuclear unit—there’s no telling what we can accomplish!
(SNEAKING AWAY FROM TABLE, FOOD WRAPPED IN PAPER NAPKINS.)
Will Layman used to be wise beyond his years, but then the wisdom kind of slowed down and the years just kept coming and . . . well, you get the picture. Now he is simply itchy beyond his years. When not furiously scratching, he teaches in Washington, D.C., plays the rock 'n' roll music, and pursues the pot of gold at the end of the Little Humor Pieces on the Internet Rainbow. Dig his work on National Public Radio, McSweeney's, Somewhat.org, and at http://home.comcast.net/~willlayman/wsb/html. Contact Will, if you dare, at WillLayman@comcast.net.
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Y.P.R.'s R.N.C. in N.Y.C. 2004