Technically, this is a 'funeral' story. But it is also a family tradition story. And a pretty accurate story of what went on in our family too. Sort of a politically incorrect way of weeding out those who weren't serious about their relationship.

And yes.. it is a typical conversation that you could hear at a Vrtis funeral.

This reminds me of a story from cousin Rosie's wake last December.

I got to the wake and Donna (Rosie's sister) came up to me right away, and said, "Mike, have I got a story.)

(Typical Vrtis wake.)

I said, "Sure, but let me pay my respects first. (It's surprizing how many Vrtis wakes you go to where you ending up swapping stories so much, you almost forget to pay respects.)

After I returned, Donna resumed, "Karen (her 25 year old daughter) brought her new boyfriend to a family dinner we had last night at a local restaurant. Nobody had met him before, and Karen warned me that he comes from a very small family - one sister, only a few distant cousins."

"And we were ALL there. All seven of us. And spouses. And children. And some odds-and-ends. Probably about 30 altogether.

"Now normally," Donna continued, "I would be the FIRST to introduce this guy to the traditional Vrtis "new boyfriend/girlfriend" hazing. Heck, if the guy can't handle Vrtis humor, he should find out right away. It's not right to try to hide it."

"You know the kind of first-time-meeting-the-family hazing.

Like "Hey Karen, this one's not a cute as the last one."

Or "This guy doesn't seem very B-R-I-G-H-T, does he Bob?"

Or "Did you tell this guy about that bad habit or yours, Karen, or are you gonna let him find out for himself"

Or, "SIX different fellas in two months - slow down girl!!"

"You know," Donna said, " I usually greet the guy at the door and yell, "Hey, Bob, Karen's new boyfriend is here. Bring the gun."

("Once," she confided, " I came to the door, and, without even looking up at the guy, said, 'Okay, I need to see a driver's license, two other forms of ID, and proof of employment." THEN I looked up to see the very shocked face of a Pakistani boy.")

"Anyway," Donna continued, "I figured, 'this is a rather sad occasion. A pre-wake dinner. I should cut the boy a little slack.' So I decided to hold off on the hazing till some later date.

"So, not even 5 minutes into the meal, and what does my sister Jeannie do?? She learns over to Karen's boyfriend, who was sitting next to her, and in that low, gravelly voice of hers, says,
'If you EVER make my niece miserable, I'm gonna take that sorry ass of your and wipe the sidewalk with it."

"And it was open season.. Everyone joined in, and a good time was had by all. A typical Vrtis gathering."

(Fortunately, she said, the new boyfriend understood it was all in good humor. And, while driving her home that night, said, "Boy, you sure have a fun family, Karen." At least, that's what Karen told them.)


There were 6 Vrtis uncles. And a lot of cousins. I'd sure like to here of all those "first-date" ordeals that the Aunts had to go through. (And cousins-in-laws too. I remember continuing the tradition at our house.)