ANAHEIM HILLS, CA – “Well, I’m certainly not,” said Stevman Stevenson, whose middle name was also Steve, which is the weirdest fucking name I’ve ever heard. And it shouldn’t be. Because it’s basically just Steve three ways – aka Threeve, haha – and Steve is a pretty standard name. As far as names go.
His wife is Honduran. And in his mind he thinks that’s close enough that any rants he does about people from any country between San Diego and the Panama Canal will hit home with a ring of truth and “I do not want to take this shit home with me. I’d rather let the tradition die,” he told us before exiting.
Nobody expected Stevman to have the spine for it. They knew someone else would have to carry the torch. But not just anybody.
Donovan made a limp offer. “I guess I can if nobody else jumps in. I just can’t remember what I’m supposed to be mad at them about,” he said like a typical third son, hedging in everything he does. Wanting to be loved and accepted. But never sure if he should follow his oldest brother in refraining. Or follow Kevin.
Kevin Stevenson was a little too eager and his offer was vetoed by grandma. “That’s a hard no. I don’t even wanna know what sentiment you think you understood by my dearly departed,” she said. A little more woke than anyone expected from a white woman from Arkansas in her seventies. She understands Kevin is a conspiracy theorist who spends a lot of time making MAGA memes so the family is well aware of how many times they’ll have to hear the word “rapist” come out of his mouth and that’s just a bunch of explaining someone will have to do for Stevman’s 5 year old. What grandpa did could be explained away with age. There’s no excuse for Kevin. “What the fuck do you guys know? I’m the only one that ever lived with a bunch of ’em,” he reminded his family, referring to his time behind bars.
It all hinged on Marlon. Marlon was a lawyer. He could argue both sides of the coin. His first wife, Maria, was a Mexican-American. They had a bad divorce so there’s the chance he’s bitter. That’s a seed that could blossom into giant oak of a rant. But he’s an immigration lawyer so, there’s that. “I don’t mind them when the checks don’t bounce,” is all he would offer. Most of his work being tied up in the Asian-immigrant market, as it were. And he turned his attention back to his crossword puzzle.
Without the three sons who are right-minded enough to be able to handle the ranting – without embarrassing God for creating our species by virtue of its sheer lack of humanity – it seems as though the tradition might die. Buck – Captain Buck, as they called him – had four strapping boys who were all tight ends in college and all look like it. They’ve all aged well, even Kevin. Though he hasn’t matured the same. They were raised to be good patriots, but only one has any interest in tearing down desperate people. And their children are out of the question as ranters for obvious reasons. They range in age from mid-Millenial all the way down to a two year old who can barely even say Mexicans. They’d just mess it up somehow because they’re kids. And kids don’t understand the nuances of jingoistic xenophobia.
The three wives (Kevin is surprisingly single) look like the type who would jump at the opportunity to get in a good rant. But none of them are feeling it either. “Not since I got into Jane the Virgin,” Trish said. Trish is Donovan’s wife. “That show kinda opened my eyes to other types of cultures and stuff.” They all nod as if that settled it for the group.
They sat there quiet, thinking fond thoughts of grandpa. Even after the hourlong argument over who should handle the annual rants, none of them say they thought fondly about his diatribes against the Mexicans. Except Kevin who started, “Remember that time grandpa said the only thing better than a Mexican is a–?” He was cut off by grandma who knew which joke Kevin was going to repeat. She’s woke enough to know that’s the type of joke you gotta blow the 1950’s dust off of to reveal the context to even understand why it’s funny. And she didn’t really care for Kevin and didn’t want him to get the pleasure one gets from finishing a joke from a husband she misses so dear.
They sat there for a beat before Stevman said, with his dumb name, “Did you guys see the Iranians tried to blow up a Japanese tanker?”
“Fucking Arabs can’t leave us alone,” said Kevin. He was referring to the alleged Iranian (Persian) assault on a Japanese (not American) ship that took place on June 13th, but there’s no sense explaining to Kevin that people from Iran aren’t Arab, the family decided five years ago.
“It was hard enough when he was in high school and we told him there was no Santa,” Donovan told us afterwards. “If we told him not all muslims are Arabs and not all middle easterners are muslim and not all muslims want to hurt people, it wouldn’t matter,” he said. “He thinks the Earth is flat.”
“It’s the only way Santa could deliver all the gifts in one night,” Kevin interjects as if it’s settled science. Donovan performs a long, slow, sarcastic shrug.
The family decided that maybe nobody was right to carry grandpa’s torch. Instead, in his honor, the family chose to have a minute of reflection in grandpa’s honor. Because they loved that old racist. He was a kind man to anyone he’d ever met. Even the Mexicans he ranted about. If he met a Mexican in person they were always “one of the good ones,” he’d say. And so, instead of ranting, they decided to reflect. Reflect and listen. Listen to a YouTube video in the background of Donald Trump’s campaign announcement speech. In Captain Buck’s honor.
“I love that part about how they’re sending the rapists,” Kevin admitted, smiling with a single tear.