I have recently become an uncle. I have wanted to be a uncle since I was little. For starters, it means I can describe myself as avuncular. I can put it on my resume, in hobbies in front of zymurgy – I’ve got A to Z covered.
Many works of literature have been described as a spiritual quest for father (undoubtedly feminist schools of literary criticism bridle at this). But uncles get the cool roles. Ne’er do well uncles are cute, ne’er do well dads are losers. Uncles know secrets and back alleys. Uncles teach you about cigars, mixed drinks, and racing forms.
I am waiting for my “kit” of cool avuncular wisdom and tools – perhaps the stork drops it off later.
Actually, I became an uncle the moment I got married. My wife had nieces. But this was her family. My brother-in-law and his wife were not people with whom I had a history.
Also, it was nieces and most of the uncle stuff I described goes for boys. As for girls – of any age – my one and only strategy is jewelry, and I’ve already got a wife and daughter to support.
My brother, of course, is a different story. My brother and son share a bond of sports, birth (they share a birthday) and just general toughness. The Almighty has a great sense of humor about these things. Now, I have an ally in my brother’s camp. (I believe firmly in the desert wisdom - me against my brother, my brother and I against our cousins: my brother, my cousins, and I against the world!. (That may actually be from the Klingons, I’m not sure.)
Just as my brother infects my son (subliminally and by remote) with an obsession with sports – I can attempt to turn my brother’s offspring into fans of ancient history, classical epic poems, and Civil War battles. So maybe I’m not on track to be a terribly cool uncle.
Anyway, my brother outfoxed me again. It’s a girl. My daughter could help, but alliances with her get very expensive. Plus, she really loves my wife’s sisters and I fear entangling alliances. I think this is how World War I got started.