The notion 'relative' is quite gripping to me.
I have many of them.
Growing up I remember feeling disgusted by the many kisses I would get from the cornucopia of uncles and aunts. Some were blood relatives and many were just friends of my parents, to whom I would refer to as uncle and aunt out of respect for our generational divide.
I remember thinking of exit strategies whenever I'd anticipate some of them coming my way to squeeze my cheeks and give me a kiss. Crap. Many times I wouldn't succeed in exiting and I remember rushing to the bathroom to wash my face thoroughly and quite aggressively.
Relatives are quite a notion. They are nice people, no doubt, loving, well, too loving at times, but they seem to be genuinely happy when you do well and your life appears to be, well, made.
Blood relatives I get. Even those strange, middle-aged people, friends of my parents who also insisted on the same kiss-planting behavior. They did what they did out of love and well, a kid seems to be born for the sole purpose of parading one's parents good genes to the rest of their circle. Or something. Or maybe I was the only one who used to think that way.
What I don't get, however, is the family of my significant other. I guess they are not really my in-laws, they're just the unspoken baggage of my person. Yet, they are so oddly interested in me. Perhaps they are being cautious of their child who is now with this 'liberal' college professor person who most of the time looks like a punk and insists on having something to read during dinner just in case someone misuses language by producing little nothings. Don't get me wrong. I love little nothings when my 'person' utters them because I know where they'll lead me. But when the mom utters little nothings, well, then we're official approached weird-landia!
The 'person' tells me that the mother wanted to know how I spelled my middle name exactly so that she could isolate all the google hits that didn't apply to me.
"Wait, your mother is googling me? Ewe!"
To which the 'person' says:
"Well, not till after my brother googled you and found all your hard-to-pronounce work, you know? They're, you know, pleasantly curious. I think it's cute."
Yet to me, there's nothing pleasantly cute about relative strangers constructing some notion of intimacy and familiarity of me by googling me. I know I overreact, but overreaction comes with my territory, hence it's a healthy thing.
I only have two things to hide from them. One is my closet full of shoes and my fetish thereof, and the other, well, the other would be my general discomfort around relatives. I constantly fear that they will jump me from some bush in the street and plant, a big, fat kiss on my already scrubbed cheek.
And how can I explain such a phobia to them?