Survival Guide: Aunt Gabby

If you ever find yourself in Dubuque, you may run across the mysterious creature known as my Aunt Gabby. This survival guide is meant to prepare you for such an encounter. Below, you will find more about Aunt Gabby’s history, nature, and what you should carry with you for optimal protection.


‘Gabby’ is a short for Gabriella Morganstern, a 6-foot 2-inch biped that comes in at around 115 pounds. At one time considered a beauty and a creature that lived in harmony with her environment, Aunt Gabby is now considered by most experts in my family to be one of Nature’s Great Mistakes.  She shows surprising agility, coordination and mental acuity at 60 years old (she will say that she “turned 35 again” this year).


During the daytime hours, Aunt Gabby can be seen prowling around newsstands, needlessly haggling with vendors over the prices of unfiltered menthols and MAD Magazine. She’s also been spotted in the aisles of various ‘big box stores’ in the area, comparing prices of detergent, cat food, and mouthwash. On Wednesdays from 11am to 4pm, she can be found at the Coin-Op Laundromat on Birch Ave, often without any laundry at all. Evening hours are altogether different. At dusk of each day, Aunt Gabby can be found dining at Popeye’s, The Olive Garden, or the local pizzeria, Mama Papa’s. She then retires to her ranch house located on Rural Route 31 just north of the 17 junction. Hours later she emerges, ready to “hit the town.”


Aunt Gabby uses a blue 1983 Toyota Tercel to get to the main streets of town, where she will then walk or take cabs to her other destinations. She was reportedly once seen on a stolen motorcycle fleeing the scene of a fire at McDonald’s in the late hours, but that is based on unreliable and unsubstantiated eye-witness accounts.


All reports from my parents confirm that Aunt Gabby has never successfully reproduced, but that doesn’t mean she hasn’t tried. And while it is probable she can no longer bear a child, her sexual virility remains strong. In fact, data indicates that within the last thirty years, her number of sexual conquests has grown proportional to her age. Be wary, as most experts agree she is constantly “in heat.”


Most of Aunt Gabby’s behavior would be termed “unacceptable” by most social standards. She has been described as at once antagonistic, aloof, passive-aggressive, sarcastic, and sexually predatory. Others, including my mother, have said she is “without empathy,” “childish,” and “sociopathic.” She spends much of her evenings in local taverns, drinking heavily, dancing and encouraging others to dance even if no music is playing, and daring other people to kiss her and kiss each other for money. She indiscriminately insults everyone on the basis of their looks, fashion, heritage, religion, annual income, known associates, athleticism, genitalia size, who their father is, and ability to “hold their liquor.” She does tend to favor young Italian men who can “bench press at least 180,” so they are usually the first type she will focus on in a crowd. Any male is a potential target for — and most women are potential threats to — gaining control of the attention of the most amount of people in a room.

Defense Against:

Primarily in bars and resaturants: If Aunt Gabby notices that you have not acknowledged her presence or paid attention to anything she said, she will pounce. She often tugs a man’s crotch “just so’s you remember me.” To successfully evade her, you must demonstrate a passable level of acknowledgement. Occasionally laughing at her crude and racist humor or lighting her cigarette will keep you from her aggressive tactics. She was a track and field star in her youth and still has great speed, so she can catch up to and tackle most people who attempt to flee from her. Use zig-zagging paths, as her old ankle injury from getting into a barfight “with two dykes and a postman” in 1977 will prevent her from gaining much ground on you.

Everywhere else: Do not look her directly in the eye or speak to her for any reason, less she decides to “make friends” with you. She generally leaves strangers alone during the day, unless you are a vendor or a street urchin.

Other means of defense upon engaging her is to exploit her weaknesses. She has irrational fears of ukuleles and yo-yos, so she will avoid you if you pull one of these out of a bag and start playing with it. Any signs of aggression or frustration will be seen as a challenge and she will engage you further, often commenting on your “hook nose,” “flat ass” or “girly shoulders.” You can also drive her away by quoting Scripture.

If you have no business in Dubuque, it is advised to just stay away.