by Darren O'Donnell
If ever in doubt about the artificial nature of the nuclear family one need do little more than subject it to that other modernist nightmare, the family vacation. I'm stuck in Hawai'i right now and I'm sorry if I sound like a spoiled moron but I'm doing my best here, people. The car my sister and brother-in-law have rented is stuck in traffic, they're sniping at each other and my mom is speaking in falsetto as she manically tries to impose a desperate saccharine harmony on the situation. It's a minor conflict in a series of minor conflicts but, like all conflicts on the family vacation, it has the potential to explode into accusations, tears and recriminations that reach back to childhood. We all can feel that, even brother-in-law who, bizarrely, reminds me more-and-more of long-divorced dad; it appears they've both memorized the same book of lame jokes. I start to wonder if the individual exists at all or do people simply adopt certain energetic functions according to particular situations. Somebody has to be dad, why not him.