{ Saturday, December 28, 2002 }

Another night out.

Don't forget about we thought we were deep. Something new (but seven years old) from Chet Ulvan every Tuesday. This week's is the second (and last) love poem. It doesn't make me cringe nearly as much as the first one did...

Thursday night I went out with my cousins. We met at the bowling alley down the street from my mom's house. In preparation, Mom made about twenty sandwhiches (cheese on white, ham and swiss on rye, and turkey and colby on wheat) and Shelly and I loaded up messenger bags with twelve beers each (Amber Bach and Miller Lite).

This bowling alley has always been a dive. It's the only business on this particular street and we're not even exactly sure if it's in Bellevue, Newport or Woodlawn. Anyway, apparently it's been purchased and renovated. No more Driftwood Lounge. Even the balls were pretty and new. And color coded. The eight pound balls were pink.

We all arrived and got three lanes... there were about twenty of us there in the two hours we were around. Cousins, dates, and dates' siblings. It was a nice crowd. I am still a terrible bowler. But whatever, it was fun. We hung out and talked and bowled and drank... After about an hour and a half, one of my cousins asked for Writer Guy's number. And I gave it to her.

My cousins are an interesting group. There are twenty of us and we're almost all in our twenties (there are two who are teenagers and maybe a couple who are older). Everyone is just starting to get married and reproduce and all that. There are two babies due in the next year (both have been married for more than a year), and two weddings scheduled. Two other couples are living together and two more appear to be pretty permanent (I'm counting Shelly in that one). One other cousin has a child (he has full custody of that beautiful, perfect child my dog stole the cookie from) and three of us are in new relationships. Six other cousins live far away and are already married and I think three of them have babies.

I guess it's right that they would mostly all settle down simulataneously. I mean, we were all born at roughly the same time. There are only a couple of cousins who are more than six months from their nearest relative in age (which is odd because sixteen years separates the oldest and youngest of Mom's siblings).

My family is very close. The cousins go out just to hang out together. Because it's fun. Instead of in-laws we have out-laws. "The difference between in-laws and outlaws are outlaws are wanted". And when someone new comes into the family, there's a vote. First the cousins decide whether or not they are approving the new significant other... and this process was begun on Writer Guy.

It's a test really. We call the new person on the phone when we're all together and basically expose the poor soul to our maddness. This comes in the form of "We want -----!" chanted into the telephone. If the person is a good sport, they gain approval to appear in person at a function. Let me tell you, Writer Guy took this like a champ. I heard one half of the conversation "Hi, this is mary ann's cousin.... I'm fine, how are you?.... Now, tell me about yourself....". Shelly got on the phone and explained a bit of the screening process to him... and mentioned that given my history, he had a good shot of getting approval if he even just managed to be lucid.

I'm telling you, he took it so well. It didn't sound like he batted an eye... he's still coming to the wedding in January. He did tell me that he wasn't quite sure what was going on and he was not prepared to hear all those people screaming his name, but whatever, he took it well.

After the phone interview, the new person gets a function or two to make an impression. If they successfully manage to make anyone laugh and appear to be good for the other person, they normally get approval. Waste never did. When an engagement is announced, we take a vote on whether or not that person is going to become a cousin. We have reversed "no" votes in the past. One girl was so damned quiet that we were all concerned she was mute. As soon as she got over her shyness, she's become one of the family's favorites. Quiet doesn't get you very far in my family.

We're that kind of close. We're a genetic clique.

So, we went bowling and WriterGuy endured the phone call and the chanting. Then we sort of dispersed and eight or so of us went on to The Pub. The Pub continues to be a dive. My hometown bar. One night we tried to call one of my cousins up there and we had a hell of a time figuring out what the name was... "Isn't there a listing for The Pub in Ft Thomas? The sign just says 'Pub'". It's that sort of bar. We went into the back room and drank and talked and laughed and really had a good time.

While I was home, I learned two things. Both of which I already kinda knew. My mother was the prettiest girl in Ft Thomas when she was my age. I've always been told how naturally beautiful my mother was. But this time it was backed up by about a million people. I was told that when I went into the Pub and some man at the bar asked me if I was another aunt's daughter. I look just like my aunt did. Same hair, same body, same facial shape. We even have the same voice, really. The most distinguishing difference would be that my aunt's eyes are bright blue and mine are navy. Really. Then he asked if I was the daughter of the other red head (the youngest uncle). I look a lot like his daughter does, actually. Except she's fifteen. I told him whose kid I was and he yelled to the whole bar about it. Everyone told me my mother was the prettiest girl in town when she was my age. Mom got kinda silly when I told her that the next day.

I also learned that I will probably never be an aunt. Well, Nikki or one of my step sisters might reproduce, but I'm my mother's only shot at grandchildren. My sister has a medical condition (she has two uteri). It doesn't look like either of them is quite developed enough to hold a fetus. Shelly has infinite potential to be a Cool Aunt. Except that means I'd have to be someone's mother. I'm not sure how I feel about that. She hasn't told Mom yet...

posted by mary ann 1:26 PM