How I was chased across plague-striken Texas by my girlfriend’s tacky southern Gothic family (with audio!)

The full story is longer, and even less edifying

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Gary Branfman, in a March 8 op-ed for the Victoria Advocate, explaining why COVID-19 won’t be a big deal and how those who say otherwise are operating outside the protections afforded by the First Amendment, or something

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, I accompanied my girlfriend Tess and her mother Tracy Branfman to a reasonably charming high-end luxury resort — Rancho Pillow in Round Top, Texas — where her brother Max Oliver and his new wife Gaby Oliver were working as groundskeepers. The reason for this interlude was that Tracey’s third husband, Dr. Gary Branfman of Victoria, had been especially abusive in the week prior, mostly to Tess, and this had taken its toll on all of us — especially since Tess had her capstone/thesis paper due in a few days, whereas I myself was in the middle of finalizing my upcoming memoirs and starting on another project.

A day after we arrived, I told everyone off and made preparations to leave, before stopping to comfort Tess and explain that I wasn’t mad at her; I just despised her family. Somehow this led to Gabbie threatening to call the police on me, and then Max forcing me to sit down at the table, at which point I began recording on my laptop just in case things deteriorated further and I needed a record. The eight minutes to follow may be heard here.

This wasn’t the first time that one of Tess’ cognitively disordered extended family members had threatened to call the pigs on me, and it wasn’t the last; a week later, I’d finally extracted the two of us from a situation that had managed to get even more absurd thanks to the involvement of a deranged grandmother, Dr. Branfman himself (who you can hear me talking to on the phone in this recording, in hopes that he might come pick us up in his occasional capacity as the lesser of two evils).

https://soundcloud.com/barrett-brown-123444558/max-oliver-and-gabbie-oliver-freaking-out-at-rancho-pillow

Highlights of the linked audio include Tracey Branfman (ne’ Oliver) weirdly denouncing me for talking about her behind her back for things I’d told her husband right in front of her; Tracey dismissing my objection to her previous crazy remark from a few minutes prior about how I’d “used” her, on the grounds that “People say things” (which is a good point, in its own way); Max Oliver threatening his sister with some unspecified consequences of his anger if she made a particular face again; Max Oliver explaining that the two of us couldn’t sleep in the room we’d been given because he “can’t trust” us and had to watch us until dawn, in the great room; me telling Tess the amusing lie that her “brother has things under control”, which I said in an effort to calm her down; Max Oliver explaining to me that I had to leave, several times, and me agreeing that this would be swell and asking for further details on how this might finally be accomplished; and Max Oliver telling his sister that she wasn’t permitted to leave. This latter imperative was one of about a dozen different declarations that were soon contradicted by other, somewhat more incompatible Max/Gabbie directives, and/or overtaken by events, since Tess and I did end up leaving at around 1:00 am to go to her grandmother’s house — which Gabbie had phoned twice, it turned out, in what was nearly a successful effort to cut off our escape; the grandmother originally told Tess not to bring me on due to whatever it is that Gabbie told her.

Later, Tess got an extension from the board of her university after forwarding them the texts she was getting from both her mother and grandmother, and pleading the hardship of an abusive family. The extension was granted. Then the two of us fled to Austin, where we’ve been holed up at a La Quinta Inn ever since — nearly homeless, but far happier. Probably we spread some covid in the process of jumping from place to place, but then who’s counting? Certainly not Dr. Branfman.

In conclusion, I recommended avoiding the Texas Hill Country altogether. That’s where Lyndon Johnson is from, you see.

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