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Family Spends Awkward, Silent Quality Time Together

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Mom Sleeps In Past Sunrise

WOBURN, MA―Noting that she had somehow managed to sleep through both the dawn chorus of birds and her neighborhood’s early morning garbage pickup, 53-year-old local mother Laura Maloney confirmed that she did not awaken Monday until after the sun had risen.

Area Dad Needs More Time With Museum Plaque

NEW YORK—Leaning in close to the paragraph of text as his family continued on to the museum’s other exhibits, area dad and Frick Collection visitor Phillip Schermeier, 58, reportedly needed more time with the plaque beside Rembrandt’s 1626 painting Palamedes In Front Of Agamemnon Thursday.

Friend From College Wasted No Time Becoming White-Collar Professional

CHARLOTTE, NC—Noting how his fellow 23-year-old now takes business trips and apparently has a company-issued cell phone, local barista Daniel MacKenzie reported Friday that his friend Eric Sanford—with whom MacKenzie attended the University of Virginia from 2011 to 2015—has wasted no time at all becoming a full-fledged white-collar professional.

Waitress Who Took Over At Table Just Doesn’t Have Same Spark As Richard

FREEPORT, ME—Sensing things wouldn’t be the same once the woman removed their empty potato skin basket without so much as a playful acknowledgment of how much they must have enjoyed the appetizer, patrons at Downeast Grill confirmed Wednesday night that their new waitress, Allie, just didn’t have the same spark Richard had.

Man Practices Haircut Request Before Heading To Barber

MINNEAPOLIS—Having scripted a set of lines he hoped to deliver with confidence and decisiveness, local 34-year-old Jason Clyne carefully rehearsed his haircut request several times Friday before heading to his local barbershop, sources confirmed.

Ronald McDonald Statue Bears Full Brunt Of Teenagers’ Mockery

CLEVELAND—Remaining stoically silent throughout the barrage of vicious insults, unsavory accusations, and various other indignities directed at it, a statue of Ronald McDonald seated on a bench outside the fast-food chain’s Clark Avenue location is said to have borne the full force of a group of teenagers’ mockery Thursday.

Woman Leaving Meeting Worried She Came Off As Too Competent

OXNARD, CA—Silently chastising herself for the way she behaved in front of her colleagues and supervisors, Cobalt Property Insurance sales associate Leah Manning, 36, was reportedly deeply worried Tuesday that she came off as too competent during the company’s weekly sales meeting.

Mom Has Stacked Dinner Party Roster

GOLDEN, CO—Their eyes widening in amazement as the 43-year-old rattled off the names of heavy hitter after heavy hitter, impressed members of the Dreeshen household confirmed Friday that the roster for their mom’s upcoming dinner party was absolutely stacked.
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Family Spends Awkward, Silent Quality Time Together

AKRON, OH–They say the family that sits silently together stays silently together. And no one proves that old adage better than the Bladners. Whether enduring an uncomfortable outing at a local restaurant, attending an unpleasant community event, or simply staring blankly at the television, this tight-knit clan always makes an effort to spend plenty of awkward, silent quality time together.

Gathered around the dinner table, the Bladners enjoy not catching up on the day's events.

"I read in Woman's Day how important it is for a family to spend time together," Joanne Bladner said Monday, her husband Larry and two teenage children slumped in their chairs at the dinner table. "In this day and age, so many families are hardly ever in the same room!"

"Well, I'm proud to say our little family is different," said Bladner, spooning beef stew onto the plates of her glassy-eyed loved ones.

Dinner at the Bladner residence is a special time: It's the one hour each day when Larry gets a chance to sit down with his wife and children and say nothing. As his loved ones rhythmically shovel food into their mouths, Larry reaches far across the table to grab the salt, straining to get it himself rather than ask son Marc to pass it to him.

After years of conditioning, daughter Michelle eats in near-silence, avoiding eye contact and answering questions with mumbled, monosyllabic answers whenever possible.

"Until I move out of the house, I have to do the whole family thing and eat dinner at the table," said Michelle, 16. "If I eat fast and don't say anything, I can usually get done in time to watch The Simpsons."

Noted psychologist Dr. Alvin Tanner, who has called the evening meal "the glue that holds the modern American family together," applauded the Bladners' commitment to closeness.

"Families need to spend time together daily," Tanner said. "That's the only way children will form lasting bonds and learn what to do when they're adults and have families of their own."

On the rare occasion that they do speak, Larry and Joanne try to make their time together as enjoyable as possible by avoiding any subjects they disagree about, including the next-door neighbors, Michelle's recent car accident, college savings, the boxes in the garage, and Joanne's mother's nursing home.

Joanne said she sees her family's tightness as part of a proud tradition.

"Larry's family was very close growing up," Bladner said. "He was raised on a farm, so they spent countless hours together out in the fields. Unfortunately, our family doesn't have any haying or corn-detasseling to do together, so we have to find other ways to stay close."

The four often spend hours after dinner watching television together.

"Marc wanted a TV set of his own, and I said, 'No way, buster,'" Larry said. "Then he'd be spending all of his time watching MTV in his bedroom, instead of sitting out in the living room watching Who Wants To Be A Millionaire with us."

In addition to sharing many quality viewing hours, the Bladners occasionally leave the house together. Years ago, they went on frequent family walks, but when the children reached adolescence, they began resisting this activity for fear of being seen by their peers. Marc and Michelle's changing attitude and their parents' advancing age have forced the Bladners to rule out a number of activities, including miniature golf, badminton, and trips to the local waterpark.

"It's getting a little harder to think of something fun we can all do together, but we always do," Joanne said. "More often than not, we go to Southgate Mall together. We'll drive over there together and pick a time to meet up afterwards. The kids seem to like that the best."

Glaring icily at each other during a recent drive to Southgate, Marc and Michelle jump out of the family minivan the moment it pulls into a parking spot and head for opposite ends of the mall. When the two cross paths inside, they wordlessly pass each other without acknowledgement.

On the drive home from the mall, Larry reflected on his relationship with his children.

"I kind of miss the old days, when I was 'Daddy' to Marc and Michelle," Larry said. "They'd run up and sit on my lap, and I never got the feeling that they secretly hated me. But, goddamn it, I'm still their father, and as long as they live under my roof, we are going to be a seemingly happy family."

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