Paris Portingale

My Brother-In-Law, Ray: Nice Chap, but an Idiot (Part 3)

You, too, probably have a family member like Ray. And you’ll see them around the holidays. This is an ode to all the Rays in our families. Part 3 of 3.


Ray and Services to Humanity.

My brother-in-law, Ray, recently heard somewhere there’s an award for services to humanity. He’s sure there’s money involved because, as he says, “People aren’t idiots. Nobody’s going to go fucking around doing that shit if there’s nothing in it. It’s human nature.”

So, Ray’s been having a bit of a sniff around, looking for something he could do for humanity that wouldn’t inconvenience him. He’s settled on a project for sorting out all the people living on the street in cardboard boxes, which, as he says, “Isn’t on for so many reasons.”

Some of his ideas to date include: harnessing them for power, showing them how to be doctors, and something to do with sending them into outer space that I’ve yet to completely understand.

Ray thinks the prize would have to be at least a million, and he’s started a list of things he’s going to buy when it comes through. He showed it to me the other day. This is it so far:

  1. Buy the burger shop down the road because he eats there a lot and reckons he may as well own it.
  2. Buy a submarine for tooling around underwater. In the lake, if it will fit; if not, somewhere else.
  3. Buy something nice for Marjory—not underpants.
  4. Fix up the car with radar and the thing that goes ping in submarines.
  5. Note: See if you can buy spaceships. If so, change #2 to spaceship.
  6. Buy a helicopter.

Taken on its own, the naivety of the thing would be rather sweet; but when you view it in the light of all the other idiotic crap he has going on in his life, it’s just one more irritating thing you’ve got to put up with.


Ray and Cheese.

We’re in the supermarket. Ray’s there with his two mates, Derik and Barry, who are brothers. It’s Saturday afternoon and they’ve been drinking and Barry has decided he’s hungry so they’re now in the supermarket in the cheese section, because that’s the section right in front of where you go in. The expedition has stalled there because Derik and Barry are easily distracted. Derik and Barry are idiots by the way. They’re known as the Idiot Brothers. Like Ray, they’re basically nice people, just idiots, and at this particular point they’re drunk as well.

So, Ray, Derik, and Barry are looking around at the cheeses and Derik points to one and says, “What’s that gorgonzola?”

Barry says, “Gorgonzola.”

Derik says, “What’s gorgonzola?”

Barry says, “Cheese.”

Derik says, “Right.”

Barry, who, like Ray, knows something about everything, says, “You know how they make gorgonzola?”

Derik says, “No.”

Barry says, “They get ordinary cheese, right, and they mash it together with those cheese slices you get, like, wrapped in plastic, and mash it all up and that’s your fucking gorgonzola.”

Derik thinks about that for a minute, then says, “Yeah, I suppose they’d have these big factories with like hundreds of them little Asian women unwrapping all the slices and that.”

It’s at this point that Ray joins the discussion. Like Barry, Ray knows something about everything, but he knows more, so he says, “You’re an idiot, Barry, they’d have a machine to do that.”

Barry, reluctantly acknowledging that Ray knows more about cheese manufacturing than he does, says, “Right,” and tries to imagine what a machine like that would look like. It’s beyond his powers of imagination though and he shifts to trying to imagine how gorgonzola would taste. This too proves beyond him so he stops trying to imagine anything, which proves a lot more relaxing, and he continues in this way for the rest of the expedition.


Ray and Shakespeare.

My brother-in-law, Ray, knows something about pretty much everything; and if there’s a topic he doesn’t know anything about, he’ll make something up.

At one of his barbecues one afternoon, he was talking to old Mrs. Wilkinson from next door who’d come across to see if he could keep the noise down. Because Ray’s brain is unfathomable and unpredictable, and more so when he’s drunk, he decided instead to tell her a couple of facts about Shakespeare. The gist of the thing went pretty much as follows:

“The thing about Shakespeare, Mrs. Wilkinson, is he was writing all that stuff like thousands of years ago, which is why nobody can understand it now. Also he was living in Avon at the time, which I think was in America. Back then they didn’t have television and everyone rode around on bicycles or if they didn’t have a bicycle they rode a horse. Also he used to write stuff like, ‘To be or not to be, that’s the question here,’ which you can see isn’t even a proper question.”

About then, Mrs. Wilkinson seemed to have one of her attacks and Barry and Tony had to carry her back over the fence. I said to Ray, “What did you do to Mrs. Wilkinson?”

Ray said, “I don’t know, she just seemed to fall over.”

I was fucking around this one night and to prove a particular point I asked Ray who he thought wrote Mendelssohn’s “Spring Song.” He was playing darts at the time and had somehow just managed to get one of the things to ricochet around the room and end up in his neck, and he said, “How the fuck would I know?”

I guess you’d get a similar result if you asked him where the Kentucky Derby was held, only without the extra laugh of him having a dart stuck in his neck.



Paris Portingale

Paris Portingale is a writer and dog owner. While having a somewhat indifferent attitude towards abstemious self-restraint, he does follow the safe guidelines of four standard drinks a day, although his standards are a great deal higher than most, certainly the medical profession’s. Paris is visited often in the night by God, and the meetings are anything but pleasant.

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