Not-so-silent night

Every clan has at least at least one member who just loves to shake the family tree at the annual holiday gathering. Here’s your stay-merry guide for dealing with relative discomfort.

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Drunkle Stan

Who’s that stumbling up the steps? Why, it’s Drunkle Stan and his lovely companion: a half-drunk jug of Olde Tyme Kentucky Whiskey tucked under the arm of his circa 1973 plaid blazer. As usual, he’s an hour late and his nose is redder than Rudolph’s. The problem? He makes your skin crawl with his sidelong glances and 100-proof breath.

His opening line “Hey there, little lady. Found a fella yet?”

Play “Dodge the Question” No good can come of questions that start with “So, have you…” and end in “…yet?” If you haven’t – as in, got a new job, got a bun in the oven – try countering Stan’s personal question with your own: “Those hair plugs are fantastic! When did you get ’em?” It’s not about sinking to Stan’s gum-on-the-sidewalk level; it’s about helping him understand why his questions make you blush. “It’s really important to do that,” advises Dr. Gildiner. “That’s the only way he will ever get it.” (See The art of being evasive )

His table talk “Yer shkirt makesh you look like a hooker. Heh heh….”

Pour some conversational Pepto-Bismol Lynn has an uncle who’s a loud-mouthed lout: “Once, he made his own daughter cry at the dinner table.” What does Lynn do when her uncle starts slurring his way to offensiveness? Neutralize him. “He loves to talk about his cottage, so I just ask him about that, even though I’m not really interested,” she says. “That way, he can’t come up with any nasty jokes because it’s about him.”

His parting shot “Come sit on Uncle Stan’s lap, mwah mwah.”

Give him a kiss-off Wriggle away from his meaty paws and point him in another direction. “Be firm with him about the mistletoe: it’s over there, not over your head,” says Dr. Gildiner.

The bottom line Stan may be many things (lewd, rude and brewed, to name a few), but he’s harmless. Chances are, you only have to see him once a year—and that’s plenty.