When I create characters, often I draw from people I know, like my relatives. Today I thought about avuncular characters. So, what does it mean to be uncle-like? If you have an uncle (or if you are an uncle!), you probably have an idea. Here’s mine.
Uncle Russ didn’t chide me for tricking my father into letting me go fishing with them. Like me, this was his first crack at deep sea fishing and I think he was happy to have another novice along. My dad, on the other hand, was livid. You see, he thought my husband was going. When I showed up instead, he warned me that I might not be allowed to go since the owner of the boat would only take men on these trips.
Uncle Russ chuckled, “Oh, for cryin’ out loud! We can’t drop her off now. Let’s just see.” My dad didn’t argue with Uncle Russ – nobody argued with Uncle Russ.
Uncle Russ was up first. He winked at me and grabbed the pole. Within seconds he landed a bite. I watched his arm muscles tighen as he red-in-the-face cranked that reel. Soon, the bluefish he hooked jumped out of the water. Oh, the accolades! When the fish came within reach of the boat, the crew took over. Uncle Russ mopped his brow, slumped in a deck chair, and lit a cigar. I thought, Uncle Russ is no bigger than I am. If he can do it, so can I, for cryin’ out loud. Then it was my turn.
Holy crap! The strike nearly yanked the pole out of my grip. I had no idea how hard those big blues fight. Shifting my weight (all 120 pounds!) and leaning back to keep my balance, I cranked the reel with the determination of an Olympic runner in sight of the finish line. My uncle cheered me on. After twenty minutes of an arm-yanking battle with that blue, the crew finally netted my fish. Uncle Russ handed me a beer and patted me on the back. My dad sucked his teeth and shook his head.
One after another, my uncle and I caught the blues running off of Cape Cod that day. Captain Nearny certainly didn’t mind. On the ride back, my dad was tight lipped about the whole trip, especially when my uncle said, “Hey, I think she caught the biggest one, didn’t she? For cryin’ out loud, that twenty-eight pounder was hers, right?” I didn’t catch what my dad muttered under his breath. As for my uncle, well, he and I will forever refer to each other as fishing buddies, for cryin’ out loud.
Avuncular characters are like fishing buddies, don’t you think? What’s your idea of an avuncular character?
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