“Uncle.” It’s an ugly sounding word, isn’t it?
It’s guttural. It bumps and drops and sloshes out of your mouth. Uncle doesn’t flow.
It’s not particularly an attractive word, either. As much as a word can be attractive, like the sleek, succulent, sexy word “love” or the fashion-forward, frenetic, festive word “modern.” Let’s face it. Even the word “sock” as plain as can be is a more attractive, warmer word. Than uncle.
Uncle is just cold. Distant.
So how about we agree that I’m Ronan’s sock? Here and now. We will just agree to ban the use of uncle in all of it’s guttural, unattractive staleness.
Ronan say hi to James. He’s your Sock, remember?
Ronan, look your Sock James sent you a new book in the mail.
Ronan, you got a postcard from Sock James – he is always traveling that Sock of yours.
Where have you and your Sock been — you were gone for hours? Did Sock James take you to the spa for facials, mani’s and pedi’s again?
I suppose I should tell you that I have a bias. I will not lie to you and tell you that some of my best friends are uncles. Nope. I have a full on prejudice. I linguistically-profile.
I know I shouldn’t do it. I mean just because uncle walks into a sentence, do I really have to follow it around, watching its every move, waiting for it to hijack the verb and keep the adjectives in bondage? (It doesn’t count if the adjectives get off on that — don’t miss the point.) This is uncle we’re talking about — and a word like that — well it just can’t be trusted.
Uncle particularly cannot be trusted knowing that Ronan — the whole reason why uncle exists — will die. Ronan will die before he ever gets to know uncle.
Damn you uncle. Damn you Tay-Sachs.
If I could just curl up, wrap myself around Ronan, like a sock, then I could stay close. I could share the shivering, the kicking in the night, the sigh of deepest sleeping. And if I were Ronan’s sock, then perhaps, just perhaps I could bear the separation – the kick off and the forgotten lumping at the end of the day that is to come.
Sock feels more like love to me. And after all, truth be told, I’m only a relation to Ronan by happenstance. 22 years ago, I was a kid who had too much product in his hair, who ironed his boxer shorts, and who was dying inside. Dying inside because the who of who I am felt ugly, deeper than guttural could ever obtain, and so so distant. Gay was the uncle of those years — the noun, the identity, the relationship I feared.
Ronan’s mom was my sanctuary in those years. And as my hair breathed, my boxers wrinkled, and as I spoke the words I feared, the words I damned, through all of that, there she was — Ronan’s mom.
A friend. A sister. A sock.
For Ronan, he will never know the difference between an uncle or a sock. But he will know me. I will cling to him and I will be left behind one day. But I will always be Ronan’s Sock James.