With the holidays coming up all I can think about is National Lampoon and all the awkward things that happen during family vacations. I personally love getting to see my family, but I only do it about once a year and so for me it’s a treat. I know that for most other people though it’s more of a chore and so I sort of thought it might be fun to take a really infamously dysfunctional family (the gods) and right what a family experience might be like for them.
The Family Reunion
There were signs: storms, ravens and so on. No matter how much they might try to ignore it, it was becoming clearer and clearer; it was time. It was their most dreaded time of the century. In the olden days they would have done just about anything to distract each other long enough to avoid having to sit across from each other, but it always ended in war and as they got older it seemed less and less worth it. There was no getting around it. The family reunion.
Poseidon had always been the most rational of the three, not that that was really saying much, gods tended to lean towards insanity. He arrived earliest to scope out the location. It was as close to neutral ground as any of them could manage, considering they were all kings of their own domain. It was a former train car that had been converted into a diner in the middle of bloody nowhere Indiana. His brothers would be late he knew; they were always late.
The diner was deserted with only a bored looking wait staff to greet him inside. He had his pick of the tables but he decided a window-facing booth in the corner far out of the main thoroughfare was best. There wouldn’t be anyone here to overhear them to begin with, but it was always better to be safe from prying ears. Looking over the menu he let out a groan, he could already foresee the complaints he was going to have to suffer through once his brothers got there.
Suddenly, the perfectly sunny day disappeared and was replaced by a momentary lightning storm. Dark clouds roiled above and lightning struck the ground mere feet away from the diner. The door of the train car blew open and an imposing man in an impeccable suit thundered in; Poseidon was completely unfazed. Zeus always loved to make an entrance. Once he was inside the clouds dissipated and the sunshine once again returned as though nothing had happened. “Drama queen,” Poseidon muttered to himself. Spotting his brother Zeus stalked up to the table and asked: “Where is Hades?” Poseidon gestured to the empty seats with a wave. “Late, apparently.” Zeus was clearly disappointed; he hated wasting an entrance, almost as much as he hated waiting around on his kid brother. He joined his brother in a huff and picked up a menu.
Just as the poor put-upon waitress was working up the nerve to walk over to the table to take their drink order the whole world went black. She would have screamed, but the darkness pressed in on her, making it impossible. There was a noise like the bell above the door ringing, but it could hardly be heard over the maddening shrill happening in her head. Just as she was beginning to question the worth of her existence the darkness was gone and she found herself on the floor with tears running down her face for some unknowable reason. She got up and decided to give her patrons a few more minutes to look over the menu.
She hadn’t noticed that the third and final member of her lunch rush had arrived. What Hades lacked in style he made up for in execution. He might look like a pirate Keith Richards after a particularly long bender, but he knew how to work a room. Poseidon had often wondered if Zeus and Hades didn’t knock heads so often because they were just a little bit too alike. “Well, what the bloody hell is the meaning of this then? A train car in the middle of nowhere? I didn’t even know Indiana existed until today.” Hades threw himself into the booth with practiced bravado. Despite his apparent devil-may-care attitude he was constantly alert. They were all on guard around each other, the centuries had taught them that nobody was to be trusted, especially not family.
“It’s simple Hades. No water, no pits, no mountains. We’re all equally out of our element here,” Poseidon explained. “Neutral territory is it? And what exactly am I suppose to eat in this neutral territory? This menu is atrocious.”
“You could get a salad,” he offered helpfully. “A salad?” Hades scoffed indignantly. “The kind of hell is supposed to eat a salad?” Zeus couldn’t resist taking the opportunity to make a jibe at his youngest brother. “Come now Hades, surely you’re accustomed to living off scraps by now, what’s a salad?” The room instantly went cold and Hades looked positively murderous. Poseidon was ready to plant himself in between the two when Hades brightened and decided to return the comment in kind. “Speaking of unpleasant brother, how is your wife?” Zeus deflated instantly and looked as though he might never know joy again. This was as close to civil as the two of them ever got.
“Salads might not be good enough for the king of the underworld, but I think I’ll have one.” “Really?” Poseidon asked as his eyebrows shot towards his hairline. Salads didn’t exactly fall in line with Zeus’ indulgent nature, and it wasn’t like gods needed to watch their weight. “Oh don’t be impressed brother, he’s just turned too many of his lovers into animals to feel comfortable eating one. I think I’ll have a burger.”
“At least I have lovers Hades.” “Awfully brave talk in the age of child support.” Poseidon could already feel the oncoming headache. “Could we perhaps not fight the entire time? I do vaguely recall this being how a few wars have been started. I’d rather not have cause to grant favor and argue with the rest of the gods. I still owe Athena a few thousand flagons of ambrosia.” Zeus threw up his hands melodramatically, ever playing the victim. “Hades started it!” “No Zeus, you and Poseidon started it when you ganged up on me and tricked me into becoming the king of hell,” Hades shot at him hotly. “Well at least you get to be a king Hades, we could have just killed you,” Zeus rebutted. ‘And so it begins,’ Poseidon sighs to himself. ‘Just get through this and you don’t have to do it again for another century.’
His brothers continued to go at it as he quietly counted his breaths, only ever interjecting when things were about to get violent. Wasn’t it the middle child that was supposed to be the wild one, or was he destined to be the peacemaker by birth order? Ironically this was how they kept the peace. Staying in contact with each other made it surprisingly hard for one of the brothers to plot the demise of the others.
He was grateful they had decided on lunch, it gave a natural end to the festivities. As they said their goodbyes Poseidon walked away grateful not to have done any lasting damage and already dreading the next family reunion. When the wait staff went home that night they each had small satchels of gold coins in their pockets and not a single one of them could seem to remember why.
I’ve seen some pretty intense family fights, but can you just imagine watching gods argue like actual siblings? What would that even be like? It’s probably a lot like watching drunks fight, but pettier. I also loved writing Poseidon as the peace keeper. It just made the most sense, considering that in most stories Poseidon was pretty content with life as long as nobody was actively trying to dick him over. He had some weird looking kids though, I mean have you seen the Cyclopes? They’re some weird looking mofo’s.
Lots of Love,