I’m gonna get this out right up top: My niece hates me. She’s 12 years old and openly curses my name. Why? I do not know. The facts are these: I am a 41-year-old uncle with no children of my own. My former domestic partner, Trish Marie, and I were trying for years to conceive, but then she left me and got pregnant by her new boyfriend Dennis (“like right away, it was nuts,” as she put it in their email announcement). I love kids, but I don’t have a lot of experience relating to them on their level, especially my niece, Caitlin, who freely admits to hating my guts. The one thing I do know is that Caitlin LOVES Beyoncé. I like Beyoncé OK, but as a 41-year-old white man who came of age in the ’90s, my wheelhouse is essentially bands that either are or sound like Pearl Jam. So when I saw the video from the Global Citizen Festival of Beyoncé and Eddie Vedder duetting on Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song,” I knew this was my chance to finally make a meaningful connection with Caitlin. Here are my attempts at text messaging her the good news:

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OK so she hasn’t responded since I sent that last text nine hours ago, but I have a feeling old Uncle Mark just scored some major points in the “on fleen” department. Am I saying that right?

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