Ah, it’s that time of year again. The feasting, the merry songs, the gift-giving… the interrogations. We all know how little there can be to discuss with relatives you only see on the most special of occasions, so it isn’t altogether surprising when your elders swoop in with a line of questioning focused on your career path. Mercifully, the only two winter holidays I [vaguely] celebrate – Thanksgiving and Hanukkah – overlapped this time around, so all the family nonsense was at least condensed. My relatives generally fancy themselves to be a pretty liberal, open-minded clan; nevertheless, I think they would have preferred if my response to their innocent “so what are you doing these days?” query was a little more banal and relatable.
Over the past few months, I have provided inquiring parties with bits and pieces of accuracy regarding what genre of career I’m currently engaged in. Select friends know the whole truth and nothing but the truth, but the majority of people in my life have been painted a much less complete picture. Those who are the most in the dark are my Floridian paternal grandparents; it’s enough to say that I’m “working for a website,” because they don’t have enough knowledge about that new-fangled invention known as the Internet to continue the conversation.
But it’s my mom’s side of the family that becomes pertinent around the holidays, as we half-heartedly gather for a few hours of food and muted football. Now that I’ve graduated, I find myself longing for the days in which my family members would perennially forget what I was studying in college and repeatedly request clarification. They would then inevitably find some vaguely relevant anecdote to follow up with, as a means of “connecting” with a hip young millennial like myself. Things are trickier now that I “should” be gainfully employed.
Depending on my knowledge of the individual doing the questioning, I answered in various ways. My eldest second cousin was considered quite a wild one back in the day (and by that I mean she was impregnated by a Jamaican man, which counted as scandal), so I told her pretty much the truth, figuring she had dabbled in BDSM at some point. To my surprise, she told me that she wasn’t even familiar with the term; once I explained it, she said that it had “never really interested her.” However, she did inform me that her current fiancé had unveiled a flogger in the bedroom once and she had refused to partake. My thirty-something male cousins were well-versed enough to at least know what I was talking about, as was my uncle. He was interested enough to request I send him the link to the website, only after I had assured him that I wasn’t nude on it and that my involvement was purely literary (oops, lie.) My maternal grandparents frequently joke about my grandmother’s “sagging tits” and my grandfather’s inability to get an erection, so I divulged most of my involvement (minus the training session) to them. My mom has been in the know since the beginning, though her futile attempts to not seem disapproving often make me regret that decision.
Even though I might not feel comfortable disclosing everything to them – and they would definitely not be comfortable knowing everything – I’m aware that I’m pretty lucky to have a family that wouldn’t disown me even if they knew the full story about this job. While the turkey was being carved up this Thanksgiving, nothing immediately came to mind about what I’m thankful for this year, but I think I have just figured it out.