Sunday, September 25, 2016

The Quinn Gene

Anybody who has ever proclaimed that life doesn't come with a manual just hasn't looked hard enough, because you can get one from Amazon for a cool $7.88. But more to the point, life actually comes with something so much better and more tailor-made than that: a stupid, stupid family. When I was a teenager, 98 percent of what left my mouth was so sarcastic and so dry that it could leave your kids crying in a Sea World parking lot. In the presence of the non-initiated, my mother would simply excuse my humour on my behalf as something I acquired at birth from my father, aptly referring to it as "The Quinn Gene". I'm only now fully realising how on point she was. Quinn men are so alike that I think we were all baked in an oven like cookies. You see, by that point, Mum had spent two decades leafing through the pages of my life manual, from chapter Wed Only Within the Motherland to How to Lift Heavy Rugs, and now, so have I. Here's a sneak peak at The Quinn Gene chapter.

Quinn Humour = Sahara Desert
There's no question, us Quinns think we're regular, natural comedians, and sometimes maybe we are. But to everyone else, it can get annoying quick, especially when we we're failing to pull on the strings we endeavoured to or simply trying to stir up shit. Our main problem is that we lost the recipe to dry humour circa World War I. While it should be 10 parts dry, one part water, we seem to forget the water part. You know what I mean: A wink, a subtle smirk, a nudge of the elbow, a punchline to button it. Which means that nobody around us can ever be sure of what's actually a joke and what's not. So, being around us is like living in the Matrix in that you start to question reality a little bit.

The take away: When preparing to execute a joke of non-wet properties, please maintain a straight back, bend your knees and put the dry humour recipe to use.

The reason we have a penchant for this sort of humour is probably because the only place it's really any good for us is with the opposite sex. Why? Because a dry sense of humour is rocket-fuel for banter, and that's really handy because the Quinns are ladies men.

Professional Ladies Men
If there's anything we want to do in life, it's not erect sky scrapers, cure cancer or serve our country. Na! Na! It's much simpler than that: We want to take you out to dinner...please? And it's all of us; we're basically just a bunch of walking ids. We can be loyal husbands, I think, but we can never quite put blinders on, because Quinn isn't something you can just shut out or turn off; it's omnipresent.

The take away: Think about something else. It's almost like girls are the only thing in a Quinn's head, which might be why none of us have ever done anything particularly commendable or great. There is only so much female-centric thought you can fill your mind up with until you start pushing important shit out, like carrying the one and how to write an active sentence, the words appeared on the screen as the keys were struck by the lone gentlemen.

However, these aren't terrible qualities to have by most measures. I mean, I believe this quality makes us drug sniffing dogs for romance and for a laugh, which are the makings of a fun night out. Tragically though, they tend to be the first things to fall by the way side due to the next few qualities, the first of which is that we don't fucking listen.

We Don't What?
We have notoriously bad communication skills, to the point where a search for acknowledgement risks becoming a deep exhibition you didn't pack the correct footwear for. You mostly just get silence following anything you say to a Quinn. Sometimes it's because we have other things on our mind, sometimes we are so hell bent on being right that we just don't want to hear it or we are listening and we just don't know that a simple 'okay' here and there is a conversational-must; not particularly remarkable or ground breaking. What is remarkable in this is that any man or woman would understandably struggle to be be funny or an effective ladies man when they aren't taking in what people are saying.

So, what good is a Quinn if one of his worst qualities cancels out his best two? What good are we if the only conversation to be had and the only jokes to be made will be ours and ours only? You can't banter with someone who doesn't listen because it takes two to banter, and therein lies the struggle of baring the Quinn name in your veins.

The take away: Listen.

But Quinns Think That Nobody Else Listens
If a person calls you, gives you some instructions or advice, accepts that you've heard them out, and doesn't call back five minutes later to reiterate everything that they just said, then that person is not a Quinn. An instruction said once by a Quinn is an instruction said three times, the same way that a single call from a Quinn is actually two consecutive calls. What's terribly ironic with this one is that Quinns too seek acknowledgement; the kicker is just that we hold little faith in it because we don't believe you're actually listening, so we ask for additional re-enforcements.

Take away: My suspicion here is that this is the result of years spent dealing with other Quinns and their aforementioned conversational ineptitude, something I'll aptly refer to as "The Quinn Cycle" when I have my own family. So, the take away here is to not fall into this irritating vicious cycle one can fall into as a Quinn by reserving it only for family gatherings and then shaking it off like sticky mud the moment I leave.

To add insult to injury, when a Quinn does acknowledge, the responses often make no sense, leading me to wonder if I've ever gotten a straight answer from one.

A Quinn Answer is a Myth
There's a reason why a Quinn has never run the kids story time at the local library: Because we would read the book like we're trying to fit it into a tweet! Which only leaves the listener with questions, which a Quinn will either again not acknowledge or answer in another tweet which will create a set of new questions secondary to the initial line of questions. A conversation with a Quinn is like doing mind pretzeling circles with a rubix cube; it's a scene.

The thing is, us Quinns, for whatever reason, have little to no appreciation for detail. If we were artistic painters...we just wouldn't be, we'd paint houses; that's the extent to our detail - paint only this room Honeymilk White and rub the paint we get on the carpet out with the tip of our boot. This is in stark contrast to my mother however who will often opt to include way too much detail! I have no clue who she got that from, to be honest.

To give you an idea, let's say my mum had to go back to the store to replace some expired milk she mistakenly purchased, she would make sure that I knew whatever activity she had to finish beforehand, the weather outside, what counter she went to in the store, how many people were in line, what the shop girl looked like before she refused the exchange, and how the subsequent mid-supermarket showdown went; it would take five minutes to tell the story. Now, say this happened to my dad, he would say "I went down to the store with some milk and got into an argument with a teenager", making you wonder whether or not you had a stroke in the middle of the story somewhere or, you know, you sneezed.

The take away: Find a middle ground between my mum's storytelling abilities and my dad's, because they both reside on bad ends of a scale. Sure, details are important, and long stories are fine when appropriate, but one should ensure the listener along the way that the details which seem boring and worthless are actually integral to an interesting conclusion. After all, the last thing you want is for someone to hear the punchline of a story and then not get it because you either didn't provide something important or they spent the whole time wondering when it will be over; all suspense is lost at that point.


Now, there are a few reasons why I really wanted to write this and it wasn't because I wanted to make a joke out of my family, nor did I want to act as if none of this applies to me or that I'm somehow above it all. My point is that this life that I have here is for me to make my own mistakes, learn from them and hopefully teach those after me in the bloodline a thing or two. Families are literally a made to order, living education, and this life would be a waste if I just went ahead and didn't learn from this vital life manual I've been given. Anybody who feels lost only needs to look to their family to reset the bearings. It would be like if tomorrow you worked with asbestos without a hazmat suit or poked a beehive with a stick expecting to be okay. I'm not ashamed to be a Quinn. Admittedly, the times I've caught wind on the grape vine of my 60 year old father's philandering with thirty-somethings, a small part of me wants to shout the guy a beer, but that's not who I want to be. The last few generations of Quinn men in my eyes have been facsimiles of each other. Sure, they're different people who have done a lot of things from the heart, but there are so many things they've also done where they've neglected to look to their elders for direction, and I'm not continuing that ancestral chain. As someone in their mid-twenties, I won't ever pretend it's not in my blood, but I refuse to get churned through this genetic-machine and spat out as a carbon copy of what preceded me; that would be a wasted opportunity.