‎"...a little 'trouty', but quite good" ~ Eve Kendall, North By Northwest

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


I was downstairs chatting with Heather when she looked out the window and said "someone thinks they are coming here." So we stood at the sliding glass door, arms crossed, scowling and looking out at the people emerging from a car parked on the street - as if they couldn't see us.

"I'm not expecting anyone," she says. "Must be yours."

I squint at them. "Too young," I say. "Not mine."

I think maybe they're Jehovah's Witness because my mother-in-law has earned the house a reputation as an easy target. But they are holding hands which somehow seems incongruous.

I squint some more and discover a) they are watching us watch them and are smiling hopefully and b) it is Chris' cousin's daughter (there's an actual word for that but I can't be bothered to look it up), and her boyfriend. They are in culinary school and have just arrived for a 6 month internship at Chatham Bars Inn. She is a pastry chef and he's a main course guy. You know, savory.

Heather bails, leaving her cousin with the only person not related to her in any way, shape or form. That would be me.

But she's a pastry chef for heaven's sake, so I am nice. I know where my brioche is buttered.

I try to keep them in the downstairs livingroom because no one actually uses it and it is relatively free from random piles of socks. And then Studley saunters up and says nonchalantly "something's smelly in here." He will be great on a school bus in a few years.

So we move upstairs, where I keep the diapers and where I have to move random piles of socks and Tinkerbell costumes so we all may sit. I suppose if they're going to be here all summer it is high time they knew how we really live.

There is a possibility they will get to know us this summer - despite our fickle and seemingly anti-social behavior - because she has figured out how to get to our house and doesn't seem afraid to do so. Really, how many college-aged people do you know who seek out relatives without some kind of cash bribe from her parents? I was certainly not one.

We had some quasi-relatives in Brattleboro, VT when I was growing up. I've been thinking about them a lot lately because I have such great memories of their house and it is just now occurring to me that there was more to them than met the eye. They were all (aunt, uncle and 3 boys) interested in things which I am finally getting around to being interested in. When I think about them now, they are all people I would like to hang out with. Voluntarily.

At the time I fear I was snotty and dismissive - which I blame on the summer heat and the impression I was given (by the Boston part of my family) that Brattleboro was the Uber Boonies. It's called "Brattleboro," for crying out loud. Still, I wish I had found out more about who they were. And I wish I had gone to visit when I first moved east - you know, back when everyone was still alive. Because that's the catch. People just don't stay alive forever.

In this great age of information I could probably track down my not-actually-cousins and see how they're doing and get the scoop. But I've developed this little story of who they are based on slivers of memory and honestly, I'm not sure which version I'll like better.

So maybe I'll just spend the summer getting to know the new not-actually-my-cousins and see how it goes. Hopefully they'll cook for me.


Ambley said...

First cousin once removed. I had a favorite cousin as a child who was actually Dad's cousin, so it was important to me to understand how that works.

Isn't it unfortunate that we start out brash, petulant, whatever (me, not you), and learn only later how much other people have to offer that we might have dismissed back then?

rain said...

TRying to think of something deep to say, but you had me at "brioche". I'll have fresh jam on mine, please.

thefoodsnob said...

I think that sounds wonderful.
I have tried to keep in touch with some of my cousins, and they don't seem to want to bother. It's sad, really.
I was a snot when I was younger, I am not proud of it, but I admit it.


Susan said...

Ambley - my favorite "Aunt" was actually my dad's cousin. See why I'm confused?

Rain - mmmm, brioche. Coffee's brewing.

Lisa - I keep waiting for that time when my family turns into one of those themed t-shirt family reunion families and it just doesn't seem to be happening. Interestingly, my sister is the one who keeps family together the most. And boy was she a snot.