Building Character

Yep, Uncle Mike.
He was a real character . . .

—lame old line at any family reunion

Peace and joy, Camper.

Sometimes older relatives are known as “characters.” These relatives carry a wealth of wisdom born of bitter bitter experience, and they often feel a grave responsibility to pass on their wisdom to the young. This is how young campers build their own store of bitter bitter experience. It’s a folkloric process. Left alone, we might listen only to our parents, and thereby miss many mistakes that these family “characters” have found so self-destructive in their own lives.

Your Uncle Jerry’s favorite relative, Great Uncle Jerry, modeled many cheerful bad ideas. It is through following his advice, in fact, that Uncle Jerry developed some of his most resilient “character” flaws.

“But your mom said not to run around naked. She said nothing about riding your bike.”

“What do you mean you’ve never had rum in your milk?”

“I’ll tell you everything I know about women, boy: absolutely zilch.”

“That is no way to roll a joint. Did you learn nothing in eighth grade??”

“If you major in humanities, you'll be fine.”

“Tell her it’s not her fault; it’s yours. Tell her you’re not good enough for her. Yeah, that one always works.”

What a character. It is thanks to him that Your Uncle Jerry hands out cigarettes at Halloween, knows how to make a quiche, and missed any chance at wealth and comfort in retirement. If Great Uncle Jerry were still alive today, Your Uncle Jerry would cheerfully kill him. But we digress.

In chapter eight of our story, Molly begins to absorb some wisdom from the old character in her life.

Joy and peace.

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