Humor Runs in the Family
By Steve Hofstetter
Jerry Seinfeld once said that the key to comedy was to make animals talk. However humorous a cow reciting Shakespeare may be, I tend to disagree. I, and everyone around me, know that the truest example of humor is my family.
I've always believed that the main component to a clever repartee was to make something ironic. Put something that doesn't go in a place that you wouldn't expect it. Sheep. See what I mean? The Hofstetters are the quintessential example of said paradox of life.
Let me just explain the dynamics of my family. I'll start with my siblings and myself. I'm the youngest, at age 16. My sister, Sharon, is 17, and attends Forest Hills High School. My brother, Adam, is 20, and attends Queens College. If you're bored, don't worry, here is where it get's interesting. Adam was originally supposed to go to Binghamton, but due to my mother's over protective nature of I'll-keep-the-kids-at-home-until-they-defenistrate, he wound up 2 miles away from home, at Queens, which by coincidence is the Hofstetter death trap of higher education. Not only did she not let him go away to college, but she, along with my father's help, prevented his only other possibility of leaving our wonderful Briarwood home, by preventing him from getting a driver's license. How does one prevent an 18 year old college student from receiving a driver's license? Easy, you lose the original copy of his birth certificate. Fun, huh?
Well Adam isn't alone in his anti-progenitor fight. He has Sarah Rosenberg, another journalism student at Queens College. They are always together, always at each other's throats, and almost engaged. He met Sarah two years ago, when they both wrote for the Queens College Quad. The fact that she had been through a worse childhood then he had immediately attracted him. Unfortunately, she was already steadily dating an AEII fraternity brother of his, Jeff Katz. I remember her coming to dinner, as his "friend", and Adam having to explain to me that he could do nothing, for Adam was master of the Alpha Epsilon Pi chapter at Queens college, and the politics would get way too complicated. After Sarah and Jeff broke up, Adam and her became closer, probably due to Jeff stalking her, and his being afraid of Adam. They've been going out since, and even have a joint bank account. Bet you five bucks there's no pre-nup.
After Adam, comes Miriam, my 22 year old militant orthodox sister. Miriam also attended Queens College, graduating on the 13th of last June, and getting married on the 19th. Seinfeld spoke at the former, and my brother-in-law's family ethnically danced all night at the latter. Guess which one I had more fun at. Coincidentally, the 19th was the very night of the sixth game of the Knicks/Rockets NBA finals, where Starks missed a would-be-game-winning three pointer at the buzzer. I found out the next day. Her husband, Marc Gottlieb, is a deadhead chef, who is never home. They recently had a child, who I still don't know the name of due to some orthodox custom. The only clue I got was that it was the same as a famous star's stage name. I call him Slappy Kinkaid. Miriam, Marc, and Slappy all reside in Elechester, Queens, the Hofstetter death trap of better living. Confused? You ain't seen nothing yet.
We've now reached the subject of my parents. Please buckle your safety belts, and no smoking until we level out. We're about to begin the journey through my childhood. About 3 years ago, my parents announced that they were getting separated. I immediately pictured an emotional good-bye, followed by a custody battle which would wind up with me hitching a ride with some trucker in Nevada. The only difference the separation actually had from life beforehand was that my mom slept in the basement, while my dad occupied the double bed upstairs. My mom became mild mannered Ellen Hofstetter, a nursery school director by day, sleeping amongst the file cabinets by night. Don't get me started on my family and file cabinets. I'm surprised my mom hasn't already tried to convert our Forest Hills apartment into a twenty-two story one.
"Second Floor-Beniquez through Dawson"
Well, my mom wound up moving back upstairs, getting fed up with my dad again, and asking for a divorce. I don't know exactly what my parents fought about, I just know that if two people were ever meant to be together, it wasn't the two of them.
We were told that the divorce would only be a matter of months. This was last summer. Of course, I forgot that they were on Hofstetter time, which makes it only natural for them to still be married. Before they "started" getting divorced, they asked us which parent we each wanted to live with. The question was really to pick which one we had to live with, and eventually, we all chose my mother, some out of default, and some out of peer pressure. Either way, we started moving in to our new apartment on the day of their 29th anniversary (It's 30 now, and I fully expect another before the divorce is final).
It's here that I must stop, due to time and length constraints. In the meantime, I'll close with a brief explanation of some of my other relatives. There is Ritchie and Chris, my Catholic foster brother and his wife, who have three kids, and live in Poughkipsee. There is my grandmother Sylvia, who has lived in 5 places in the last two years, her current residence being Elechester. She also attended Queens College. There is my Aunt Harriet, who has held more jobs than all of Pittsburgh combined, and can't find anything better to talk about at the Thanksgiving table then her last illness.
"Oh, and after that, the gall stones came right out. Would you please pass the stuffing?"
There are many more Hofstetters out there (I know, it's scary), but unfortunately, I don't have time for each and every one. Maybe I'll write about my family again sometime. Maybe after therapy (yeah, group therapy-me and ten therapists). Until then, may your cows talk, may your sheep be inserted in the middle of sentences, and may you never have to endure what I went through to write this article. By the way, I've counted 7 Hofstetters who have gone to Queens College, and 6 who have lived in Elechester. I want to go to Binghamton, and live in Manhattan. Go figure.