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12 Subjects to Gobsmack Obnoxious In-Laws on Thanksgiving

Here, as a public service, are some updated words of advice from last Thanksgiving.

12 Subjects to Gobsmack Obnoxious In-Laws on Thanksgiving

if you want to change the subject at Thanksgiving, ask about Bigfoot, Kennedy conspiracy theories, or offer to show your latest dental work.
if you want to change the subject at Thanksgiving, ask about Bigfoot, Kennedy conspiracy theories, or offer to show your latest dental work.

Here, as a public service, are some updated words of advice from last Thanksgiving.

You know it.

Every Thanksgiving, there's a solid shot some in-law is going to try to pry someone's mind or mouth open to discuss some bitter political subject, like budget battles or Obamacare.

 Do not take the bait. Instead, have handy some dandy defections.

 The more mind-boggling the better.

Seriously. No ordinary subject is safe. The weather? "I'm &%$@# sick of hearing about climate change," Uncle Fred might bellow. How's work? "Blankety-expletive-blanking unemployment rate!"

Here are a dozen suggestions. Just blurt 'em. Artful segues let riled kinfolk segue back.

1. Reveal the most insane "sighting" you ever had. Ever had a close encounter with an alien, Bigfoot or Angelina Jolie? Now's the time to bring it up, brother.

 2. Take an extreme position on an extremely trivial matter. "You know, the death penalty might not deter murderers, but I'll bet it would stop folks from wearing sweater vests!" Use a different article of clothing ("socks that don't match") if cousin Jeff has a sweater vest.

 3. Float a "Family Feud" question. "I keep thinking about this Family Feud question: 'Name something you don't want to find in your house.' I said, a giant baboon with fangs spewing hanta virus. I mean, I wouldn't want to find that in my house. But nobody said it! What would you say? ... So guess what what they said? Go ahead, guess. ‘Rats’? You’re right! Nope, not ‘busted plumbing.’ Cheating spouse, snakes, righto. But not leaky roof! Can you believe it?"

4. Pretend to keep hearing incorrectly. He says "fiscal cliff," you talk about face lifts. Obamacare? Talk about yo’ mama’s hair. Meet any intensified attempt to interrupt with “Anybody want a beer?”

5. Discuss dental work. This will shut down all of your adversary's mental functions. Blabber on about drills, extractions, root canals, crowns, cavities, Novacaine, or - shudder- flossing, if necessary. Last resort: Hook lips with two fingers, and stretch, saying “See?”

6. Mention the assassination of President Kennedy. "Hey, do you think Oswald acted alone? I heard he might have been shot by ..." Choose (a) his driver, (b) this guy with an umbrella, (c) a Secret Service agent, (d) this Cuban on the grassy knoll ... Disagreement is still likely, but should be less intense. "I can't believe they lost his brain!" at the right moment will keep it going.

7. Sing it! Just start singing. Anything. “Turkey in the Straw.” A football fight song. A holiday tune’s the best bet, because others probably know it and may pitch in. Then start discussing the lyrics: What’s the best holiday song ever? Etc. Wait, doesn’t that remind you of a drinking song?

 8. Ask for helpful ideas. "I'm trying to win a contest. Got a great Irony of Life? Like, why does toast always fall buttered-side down? Why doesn't the neighbor's dog poop on his lawn? Why are the films called Die Hard if Bruce Willis always lives?"

9. Make up past lives. "Did I ever tell that in a past lifetime, I think I was an aboriginal medicine man? I remember serving potions in the skull of a kangaroo. The ingredients were nastier than giblets! But that's nothing like this time, I remember it in a dream, when I had to clean the guillotines for King Louie!"

10. Start snickering about a raunchy joke. "I'm sorry. Tee-hee. I can't stop thinking of this joke I heard today. Chuckle. Chortle. Guffaw." If he begs, start to whisper, then say, "Oh, I can't. Some kid might overhear." Tease until someone says, "The game's on" or "Can someone carve the turkey?" Or go: “But here’s a clean joke that I can tell,” then stall, as if it’s going to take forever to remember. Don’t worry. Chances are this know-it-all already thinks you’re an idiot.

11. Act overly fascinated with a minor phenomenon. "Whoa, dude, ever really look at beer bubbles? I mean, really look at them? I mean, they rise soooo slooooow. How do they do that, dude?" Trying to imitate the tone of the dude in the "Double Rainbow" YouTube video.

12. Describe the grossest medical procedure you ever had or witnessed. The last gasp -- or the first, depending on who you're dealing with. "Did I ever tell you how the anesthesia wore off during my abdominal surgery? I couldn't believe the smell. ... I still have the tumor in this big jar in my basement. There's a photo on my cell phone. Want to see it?" This has the added advantage of clearing the entire room.

More Philly Lists. Contact staff writer Peter Mucha at 215-854-4342 or pmucha@phillynews.com.

About this blog
PhillyLists is a Philly.com blog. Contributors: Emily Babay, Frank Kummer, Brian X. McCrone, Peter Mucha, Alex Wigglesworth and Sam Wood. Reach The Breaking News team at breakingnewsdesk@philly.com.

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