“Oh my God, I don’t know who died!”

“George Washington died. You knew that.”

“That doesn’t matter.”

“It did to George.”

The Goddess and I are at her family reunion in south Georgia.

“Look, sweetheart, there are just three things people talk about at family reunions.”

“Let me guess. Global warming, the oil spill, and the economy.”

“Not even close. They talk about food, health problems and how natural somebody looked in their casket.”

“No global warming?”

“Not as long as everybody hasn’t forgotten that Uncle Pinkney sure looked peaceful in his casket except for the purple tie with the polar bears on it.”

“But I brought along pictures of the grandkids.”

“Terrific. My cousin Tonka will take a quick look, say they are “sweet” and then tell us in nail-biting detail about her gall bladder seizures.”

“There’s a new baby in the family.”

“Is he sick or know the menu for Thanksgiving dinner?”

“I don’t think so.”

“Then it’s a non-starter.”

“Can’t you vamp a little? You know, smile and say you’re not hungry, or that you’re sorry to hear about the bronchitis, or that it’s a shame about somebody’s casket problems?”

“Won’t cut it. These people are professionals. You got to know your stuff.”

“Your stuff?”

“I’ll never forget when Uncle Horace confronted me with the news that my cousin Moody had died. I told him I was sorry to hear about Moody and hoped the funeral home had made him look natural and at rest.”

“That was nice.”

“Turns out Moody was racing across a field on his purple 4-wheeler and had a head-on collision with a combine. Horace said Moody ended up looking like a prune who’d lost a sledgehammer fight. The family had a viewing the night before the service. They had to shut the casket when people started leaping out windows screaming something about Sasquatch and Sarah Palin.”


“I was a victim of insufficient information. I’m not going to be blindsided again, and I want you to help me.”


“Wander around and eavesdrop. Find out who’s sick, who’s looking natural and what’s for lunch.”

“Got it.”

I reported to Rebecca thirty minutes later.

“Talk to me.”

“Menu for Thanksgiving is turkey and ham unless Uncle Hoot shoots a wild pig. Aunt Lillian is bringing her famous lime Jello, butterbean and Triscuit salad.”


“Somebody named Tommy has a spastic colon. His grandfather thinks it’s because he’s having to repeat the 10th grade for the 8th time.”

“Keep going. This is good stuff.”

“Aunt Rosie has a pie crust that has the perfect likeness of Glenn Beck in a turban. She’s trying to find some way to frame it. And your Uncle Jacko left the Baptist Church and is now worshiping a giant lizard named Louie.”


“Louie. Hey! Maybe he came to the reunion.”

“Keep your eyes open. He’ll be the one eating pink salad, recovering from the shingles and trying to look natural.”

Mark Johnson

Mark Johnson

Mark Johnson is a professional mentalist and mind reader who presents his unique and unforgettable program to conventions, college and universities, sales meetings, private parties, business and civic clubs and more. He has also appeared at the Punchline Comedy Club in Atlanta and produces, along with Jerry Farber and Joe M. Turner, Atlanta Magic Night at the Red Light Cafe in Midtown. He is a member of the Psychic Entertainers Association, the International Brotherhood of Magicians, the Georgia Magic Club,Buckhead Rotary Club and Friends of Jim The Wonder Dog. You can learn more at www.MarkJohnsonSpeaks.com. He is the author of three books: "Living The Dream," the story of the first ten years of FedEx; "Superman, Hairspray, and the Greatest Goat On Earth," a collection of mostly true stories;, and "Yes Ma'am, You're Right: The Essential Rules For Living With A Woman."  Mark's day job is as a freelance writer and communications and marketing consultant. Mark has traveled around the world twice but has never been to Burlington, Vermont. He does not eat beets or chicken livers, and he has never read "Gone With The Wind." He is the only person he knows who was once a card-carrying member of the International Brotherhood of Ventriloquists. He is a fifth generation Atlantan,  the father of three, and the grandfather of five. All offspring are demonstrably perfect. He lives in Smyrna with his wife Rebecca (aka The Goddess) and two dogs: Ferguson, an arrogant Scottish terrier; and, Lola, a Siberian husky who is still trying to figure out what the hell she's doing in Cobb County.