Shaken Not Stirred

Monday, April 24, 2006

When You Call, Just Say "Hey"

One of my favorite nephews (he's the son of my cousin, but because of an age gap, was told to call me Uncle) is now a freshman at an Ivy league college--studying of course to be a doctor. I am floored that he had grown up so fast, it seems like yesterday he was teaching me about dinosaurs and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I remember when he was in grade school how he would take a flying leap whenever he would see me, sit in my lap and tell me his newest discoveries--whether it be a new dinosaur or comic book.

When he first came home for a break, he told me all about his new life. His first college keg party, showing up for class hung-over and wearing the same filthy clothes he wore the night before. He talked about running out of money and having to endure dormitory food because he had eaten out every day for two weeks after receiving his allowance. He hated sharing a bathroom (after having his own when his parents designed their home years ago) and worse yet bedroom space. But he had made a life-long friend with his roommate, who bonded with him over a fifth of tequila and a pack of Camel lights.

The thing that impressed me was this boy managed to still get a 4.0!

While he was telling me all this, he remarked, that it was kind of silly to call me "uncle" since he was practically grown-up. He said, he felt we've moved on from Uncle-nephew and were now more like friends. I agreed and said you can call me anything but "asshole", to which he remarked "that's my favorite card game".

His parents reprimanded him when at the dinner table he asked Angel to please pass some dish. I wondered how his father didn't hurt his neck spinning so fast at the sound coming from his son's mouth. His mother's jaw hit the table and her eyes fell out of their socket. He was told to respect his elders and that he would never be too old to call me uncle.

When he recently came back for Spring Break, he seemed a little solemn and a bit distant, not only to me, but everyone around. I thought it was part of the "finding himself" process. He was going thru the dark phase of college life. He was brooding and quiet, pensive and never smiled.

One night during dinner, he quiety left before touching any food on his plate. Since my family is huge, no one really noticed that he left. I excused myself from some irrelevant banter and went into his room.

I asked him what was the matter and he replied that his girlfriend had recently broken up with him. He said the long distance was no longer working and that she hooked-up with some guy in one of her classes.

And then his tears started to fall and he hugged me. He said he didn't understand what the big deal was and why he felt like crap. And then he said it all sucked and he thought the pain was going to go away weeks ago, but it still hadn't. After he poured out his anger and his sorrow, he got tired and sleepy.

Before he drifted off to sleep, he said, "This is why I have to call you uncle huh? You can still make everything better".
I told him he could call me anything but asshole.


  • Awwww... that's a fantastic story! and very well written, I might add.

    Kudos, Uncle Angel, for making the world a better place.

    By Blogger LostInTX, at 3:47 PM  

  • That was sweet...Can I call you Uncle, too? =)

    That is really great that you took notice of what was going on. Families need more people like you =D

    By Blogger the_mrs, at 4:18 PM  

  • Must be a Filipino thing. Very big on showing respect to elders - even if they're just a year older. I agree with most of it, but I won't be Nazi about it.

    Sounds like your nephew is learning about the real world. He's lucky to have you on his side through it all.

    By Blogger The Phoenix, at 4:40 PM  

  • Respecting elders is the keystone, the capstone, and the mortar of an orderly society.

    By Blogger Gyrobo, at 9:35 PM  

  • what a great sure have an effect on this young man..

    can I call you uncle too?..or how bout uncle asshole?,,teehee

    By Blogger Bossy‚ô•'s YOU, at 9:44 PM  

  • Seems clear to me you're a wonderful 'uncle', as well as a fabulous friend.

    My thoughts are with your 'nephew'.

    Respecting elders is definitely very big in Asian and Hispanic cultures.

    (The answer to your question, by the way, is May 1 for the first issue, but don't forget there will be other issues, so anything that doesn't go into the first one will be considered for others. To you, I say, go for it! :0))

    By Blogger Tea and Books, etc, at 9:46 PM  

  • You are a fine uncle. It's nice to hear family stories that aren't disfunctional.

    By Blogger :P fuzzbox, at 9:59 PM  

  • Too cute. Ive got 2 cousins like that, that tell me everything....we're years apart, but they were happy they had someone to talk to because going to their parents about certain things was forbidden.

    By Blogger Princess Pessimism, at 11:34 PM  

  • It never ceases to amaze me that the truly, truly intelligent are those that can drink a fifth of tequila on a regular basis and still maintain a 4.0. That takes just flat-out natural intellignece. Unfortunate, though, that your "nephew" was not inteleigent enough to realize that High school relationships end when you go to colege. It''s only a matter of time.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:29 AM  

  • Beautiful post, Angel. (I had to get a tissue). :)

    By Blogger JJ, at 6:57 AM  

  • niiice!!!

    I think the calling uncle and auntie thing is prevelant all over asia. the kids at the school i teach call all the workers and even parents of other students 'auntie' and 'uncle', and teachers 'teacher'.

    my taiwanese friend spoke of family resentments to cousins who refused to call her father 'uncle' as he was the youngest brother.

    By Blogger Ang, at 7:26 AM  

  • Great story. When I was in college, freshmen coming in pre-med were called "pre-business" because so many failed their classes and shifted majors dramatically.

    Your nephew's fortunes (and abilities, it seems) are much better.

    -- david

    By Blogger David Amulet, at 7:44 AM  

  • How sweet! You are a great Uncle!

    By Blogger Ranea, at 9:47 AM  

  • Great post! He sounds very lucky to have such a great "uncle" like you!

    By Blogger Etchen, at 10:50 AM  

  • Cuuuute! No wonder you're a magnet:-)

    By Anonymous Babette, at 12:37 PM  

  • What a sweet sweet boy. :)

    By Blogger Luke, at 12:38 PM  

  • You are hereby now known as "Super Tito Angel" and the benchmark for all Tito's to live up to.

    By Blogger Walter, at 1:11 PM  

  • uncle angel, you rock !!!!

    By Blogger madame P, at 2:56 PM  

  • Oh, that is wonderful.
    You are such a good person, you truly are.

    By Blogger Lee Ann, at 3:13 PM  

  • What a beautiful story, Uncle Angel. That boy obviously thinks very, very highly of you. You are a good man.
    Take care, Meow

    By Blogger Meow, at 10:01 PM  

  • Hope all is well with you.....

    By Blogger sabatkes, at 10:06 PM  

  • Nice story. All a part of growing up which I'm sure 'his uncle' knows


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:14 AM  

  • Angel

    There are people in our lives who we will ALWAYS feel safe and secure with. You have made a huge impact on him. This will be lifelong. :)

    By Blogger Cari, at 8:35 AM  

  • Nice, Angel, very nice.

    When I grew up, I called certain friends of my parents aunt and uncle. My buddy's kids call me by my first name.

    I'm not saying it is neccessarily disrespectful but "familiarity breeds contempt". If our world had more respect--for the individual, for different cultures, for ourselves--we wouldn't have half the problems we do now.

    Adults tell kids to call them by their first name because the adults don't want to seem old. That's pure vanity and teaches the kids nothing.

    And, yes, what you did is exactly the reason why your nephew has to call you uncle.

    By Blogger blackcrag, at 1:53 PM  

  • how beautiful he has the
    comfort to share his feelings
    with you
    what a beautiful tender moment
    for both of you...

    By Blogger Maddy, at 6:24 PM  

  • What a great post. i am really feeling what you wrote there. I hope that my younger cousins are able to look to me that way in the future.



    By Blogger Scott, at 9:57 PM  

  • Sounds like the two of you have a good relationship. Keep being his uncle and friend. Let him call you uncle when family is around, and then call you anything but asshole when it is just the two of you.

    It's hard growing up and finding out that the world is not an easy place to live in. One of these days he will find the perfect girl and things will get better. (You should still watch after him just in case they don't.)

    Too bad the rest of the family didn't notice that something was bothering him. Good luck!

    By Blogger Lucy Stern, at 12:43 AM  

  • Awwwww. That is such a sweet story!

    I can't believe they are such sticklers about him calling you uncle. I don't know what you're background is so I don't know if it's a cultural thing or not.

    By Blogger Lindsey, at 7:06 AM  

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