It is so fucking hot. I can feel the sweat boiling off my body. I'm walking from my grandparents' home in swank East Sacramento to a large park, trying to think of how to get away with wearing my boxers in public. At the park, my dad and I are immediately put in charge of grilling the meat, all bajillion pounds of it, despite the presence of two-dozen adults with nothing better to do and droves of children who love playing with fire. We slowly melt in the oppressive heat; everyone else hails from hotter climates, but lacks the necessary skill at combining flesh and fire.

Some of these people I haven't seen since I first started growing facial hair. Most of my adult family look shorter than I remember, and they're all a little crabbier, too. Cousins have spawned tiny progeny who are running around, trying to give everyone sticks. Halfway through the festivities, a cousin's tiny dog pees on my leg. They swear it's the first time the puppy has ever done that to a human. More blocks of meat arrive for the grill.

Things wind down with the conspicuous exit of a cousin whose identity can't be revealed for legal reasons, the disappearance of what seemed like a week's worth of leftovers for everyone, and disagreements as to what constitutes personal property. I'm tired, sweaty, and smelling like charred pork flesh. At the end of the festivities, another reunion is scheduled for the same time next year. recommended

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