Serious question

28 Oct

So, a couple months ago I went to a family reunion. I hadn’t seen many of these people in over a decade (since my little sister’s wedding) and I hadn’t seen some of them, well … ever. Within the “Ohmigosh, has it really been a decade?!” crew there was one couple in particular whom I really, really, REALLY looked forward to seeing: My Aunt Gonie & Uncle Nock* (*not their real names).

Gonie & Nock are 90-something years old and they’ve been married, I think, for close to 75 of those years.

  • Each year they seem to grow more and more in love (or so I gather via FB posts from their kids and other kin who are lucky enough to see them more frequently than I).
  • They’re adventurous as all get-out: This year, in a ~3-month span, they helicoptered onto glaciers near Ketchikan and swam with sea turtles near Kahului.
  • And they also seem to grow more and more stylish as well — seriously, Gonie was ROCKIN’ the swimsuits in Maui and she had hot young men literally dangling on her arms! I swoon!

And–obviously–they also grow older. And when you reach your 90s things can get complicated on the physical and cognitive front, so I wasn’t sure if they’d remember or even recognize me…

I saw them right away. Walking hand-in-hand across the park. They were so stinkin’ adorable. I could barely control my excitement as I approached them. I tried to play it cool, but my innards were aquiver: What if they don’t remember me?

Before I could get out even one word of greeting, Nock looked me up and down, appraising me, and in a rather stern tone said:

Cristin Zeisler [–long pause–]. I have a serious question to ask you.

I was simultaneously elated (He remembered me!) and petrified (Holy crap, what did I do wrong?). I stammered: Uh. Ok, shoot, Nock…

Well, Cristin, you know, I remember your dad telling me about how proud he was of you when you were winning all those awards and scholarships in high school and how wonderful it was that you got into West Point…

I immediately felt woozie. My spinning brain vaguely thought: WTF? Why are we talking about my dead father and where are we going on this wayback time machine trip?!? Of course I said basically nothing–I just stared at him, agog, and nodded quiescently: Uh-huh.

… And although things didn’t really work out for you over there at West Point, you made the best of it and you somehow became a lawyer, <sharp rise in tone:> Is that right?

Jesuschrist, I thought, what is this, some sort of friggin’ deposition?! Where is this going, Nock? What do you want from me? Can’t we just grab a beer and make fun of our other relatives? I said, haltingly: Yes. That’s right.

Good. That’s what I thought. You’re the one. OK then! After you were a lawyer for awhile, you went over to Russia–no, I’m sorry, it was YOO-kraine (not “The Ukraine,” I remember how you told us all to stop using the “The” with Ukraine — see, you taught me something there!). So … after you were a lawyer you went to YOO-kraine with the Peace Corps and you taught business courses and helped orphans, yes?

In my now totally messed-up mind I thought: Duckin’eggs, man, what do you want from me? Why are you tormenting me? Where is this gooooooing? For him, however, I plastered on a lovely smile and said through not-quite-gritted teeth: Yes, that’s right, too. Good memory, Nock! [Secretly thinking: I am about ready to throttle you, old man!]

Ok then. You came back to the US and you somehow made your old law firm create a special job just for you that allowed you to fly all around the country doing good things for poor people and they paid you a lot of money and made you a partner and now for some reason you have decided to go to school to become a neurologist or neuroscientist or some sort of other smarty-pants doctor who deals with the brain and you’re doing very, very well in all your classes from what I hear. Have I got all that right?

My palms are now sweating; my heart is palpating wildly; I have NO idea whatthafuck is going around me as my vision starts to go black around the edges and I am genuinely concerned that I might faint, but I say: Yeah, well, that’s close enough I guess. <pause, draw a deep breath, and bravely ask:> Where’s all this going, Nock? You said you had a question…

Well the thing is, everything I just said tells me that you are one really smart cookie, Cristin, so what I can’t figure out–what I really want to know–is this: WHY CAN’T YOU SEEM TO LEARN HOW TO RIDE A G*DDAMNED BICYCLE?!




I’ve got nothing for you there, Nock.

And that’s where we left it. He gave me an impish wink and a charming grin and knew that he’d gotten the better of me.

The next night we partied like rock stars (see photo below) and the topic never again came up between us–though of course I told the story to my mom and sisters and we all had a good chuckle about how clever Nock was/is….

But the question stayed with me.

I’ve been pondering it all these months and I actually came up with a pretty good answer while I was failing miserably at my one official bike race of the year.

And I came up with an even better (or at least more refined) answer while I was cruising along the California coast with 200+ of my R2R buddies.

And then I came up with a completely different answer just today.

And you will get these answers over the next week as I unleash an avalanche of pent-up blog posts upon you.

But for now, just contemplate how totally awesome my Uncle Nock is. Also: Take stock of the wisdom-treasures that you have in your own life and don’t let a decade go by before you celebrate with them.


And don’t let your baby sister photo-bomb your memories, either.

… love you, sis!

7 Responses to “Serious question”

  1. Carissa Barker October 28, 2014 at 7:07 pm #


    • justadventures October 28, 2014 at 7:14 pm #

      Sure! … Except for the parts that were completely terrifying!

  2. Laska, Joseph October 28, 2014 at 7:26 pm #

    I like Uncle Nock.

    • justadventures October 28, 2014 at 7:28 pm #

      *Everyone* likes Uncle Nock! But I understand your special feeling of affinity with him.


  1. Not Nock. … Albert. | JustAdventures - October 29, 2014

    […] know you’re anxious to learn about my answer to Uncle Nock’s Serious Question, but you’re gonna have to wait. The Universe (in the form of my FB Nation) has fairly […]

  2. Serious Answer. | JustAdventures - November 23, 2014

    […] about a month ago I introduced you to my Uncle Nock, the 93-year-old smart guy (all meanings implied) who, after incisively reciting, and faintly […]

  3. Happiness = Embracing the Suck | JustAdventures - November 26, 2014

    […] Uncle Nock asked me why I can’t seem to earn how to ride a g*ddamned bicycle […]

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