We lazed like turtles on a sagging log, eating a mystery soup with our 3-in-1 backpacking cutlery, while Kara described her mother’s habit of reminding Kara and her siblings to “remember who you represent.” “She says that to us every time we leave the house. It’s kind of our family motto.” From a nearby log, Eliot chimed in, “Our family motto is ‘try new things.’ Right, dad?” Mr. Borst nodded and added another beguiling ingredient to the soup.

Slowly, searchingly, my sisters and I furrowed our brows and looked down the log to our parents. “What’s our family motto?” we implored. My mom paused for a fraction of a moment before blurting, “We’re better than everyone else!” as if it was something she was surprised she hadn’t told us before. This seemed reasonable to us and has been a motto we’ve declared proudly ever since.

This week, however, we lose a Gunnink, at least nominally. Tomorrow my sister Liza will walk down the aisle, say her vows, and officially become a Warners, whose family motto is probably something like “We really like tents.” Obviously, she will forever be a Gunnink at heart, but she’ll be relinquishing that noble title in a self-sacrificial decision on par with Arwen forgoing her immortality to be with Aragorn or Cady Heron snapping up and distributing her prom queen crown. But, just in case she ever forgets her superior lineage, I would like to set up a reference page to direct her to by outlining the essential qualities of being a Gunnink. (Note that this page can also be a resource for anyone looking to marry into the family or who knows someone that may be a good fit. I’m always open to suggestions!)

First, it is important always to remember that the Gunninks relish travel but take road trips very seriously. If the location is within a day’s drive, we’d never dare consider a mode of transport other than our trusty Kia Sedona, and if it’s more than a day’s drive, we’ll just drive a little faster. Fortunately, Gunninks have evolved to have highly resilient bladders, so that once we enter the car, there’s no stopping. In fact, our family has been known to travel twenty-one hours from Breckenridge, Colorado to Grand Rapids, Michigan only stopping twice for no longer than thirty minutes each time. There is no asking to stop. There is no peeing in bottles like weaklings. There is just a steely, indifferent road-hibernation until the destination is reached.

Second, it’s imperative that in any Gunnink household, food preparation is a kitchen’s secondary use. Its primary purpose is to serve as an open space for impromptu dance parties and as a laboratory for testing and developing revolutionary new dance moves. Thus, it is crucial to find a kitchen with sufficiently slippery flooring and acceptable acoustics. Without these factors, classic dances like the 2008 “LoveStoned” shovel-seizure would never have been born.

Third, remember always to smoosh your sandwiches. As a Gunnink (and a Warners), you will probably find yourself engaging in many open-air root-dodging sessions, or hikes, and the perfect pick-me-up at the peak of a 14er or the shore of a glistening inland lake is some manifestation of bread, cheese, and lunch meat where the ingredients are no longer entirely distinct. The best way to achieve this is by placing the sandwiches in a backpack underneath a couple of full Nalgene water bottles or accidentally sitting on the pack a half a dozen times before consumption. This ensures a more well-incorporated flavor profile and reduces overall chewing time. It is an essential Gunnink delicacy.

And to conclude, here are some Gunnink fast facts:

Family Motto: Meliores sumus quam alia omnia. (Latin: We’re better than everyone else.)

Family Seal: None. We’re big Project Runway fans, so we sided with Heidi.

Family Bird: Robyn.

Family Song: “Cobrastyle” (as sung by family bird).

Family Stone: Seaglass.

Family Gem: Finch.

Family Fossil: The Woodland Mall location.

Family Tree: Unparalleled in human history.

Official Language: English.

Spoken Languages: English, Spanish, Miranda voice.

Highest Point: Gabe.

Lowest Point: Liza.

Sister Families: The Jolie-Pitts, The House of Windsor, The House of Knowles.

So in one sense, our family may be giving away one of its finest members tomorrow, but  in a much better sense, we’re gaining one that has proven himself over the past few years to be more than worthy of even our impossible standards. I am so eager to see these two set off on the journey of becoming their own family, complete with their own song, stone, and motto, but hope (and will make sure) they never forget they have a lot to live up to. Being the best isn’t always easy, but with such illustrious company, it sure is worth it!

1 Comment

  1. Geneva Langeland

    Gabe, this is delightful!

    Reply

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