Sunday, June 11, 2006

Family tales

Yesterday's family party went well. What's amazing is that all the children of my cousins are young adults. (Note: I am the youngest of my eight cousins by ten years.) Well, not all—but many! Ages 3, 5, 11, 13, 14 and 20 (three) were represented. The youngest tend to be the center of attention, as is only right, but with the 20-year-olds, actual, interesting conversations can be had. One such cousin is a junior at a small college in LA and has a professor whose work I'm very familiar with—we were both excited talking about him. I told her that if she wants an internship at my agency next summer, I might be able to work something out. She is a sweetheart and my first cousin once removed, so, hopefully, there would be no charge of nepotism.

My younger step-sister's (she is 42) three-year-old son brought a hand puppet to the party. We asked him what it was and he said, "A giraffe!"

"Ah, I see, the spots. But the neck is short. Why is that?"

"It's a baby!" We were impressed by his explanation.

My cousin, Junior (age 48/49, but looking about 30), came to Berkeley from San Francisco with his 20-year-old nephew (a husky fellow with a full beard--he looks 30 too) via Zodiac (a sturdy, inflatable motor boat). When I talked to Junior's sister (age 51, but looking in her early 40s), saying it was a little crazy, she agreed but added, "The great thing about Junior is that he's always up for an adventure." True enough. Junior also has adorable children (ages 1.5, 5 and 9) and a charming, Swedish wife, but they couldn't make it.

I was asked many questions about work, since that is what brought me here. Boy, my job takes a lot of explaining. If you can get past the tedious details, it does sound interesting. Folks seemed impressed—especially since now they all know I have completed my Ph.D. I hadn't the last time I'd seen most of the cousins. One reaction, from an eleven-year-old, was, "Cool." Indeed.

Mercifully, no questions about my personal life were asked. I attribute this to a lack of an older generation—no grandparents (all long dead, sadly) or aunts/uncles (only one of these left as well) means no prying questions. I like to think this is why I wasn't asked about boys, not that they have given up on me. Even if I had a boyfriend, I wouldn't have mentioned him—there was no opportunity.

B1 (my eldest brother, age 45) called Dad this morning and we chatted briefly, mostly about the kids of cousins, but also about B1's kids. Joey, B1's two-year-old, likes to stand on a chair and examine the change and other debris on top of B1's dresser (exactly like I used to do with my dad's dresser—and exactly like B1 did with dad's dresser, as it turns out). Joey finds one little mint, wrapped in foil and holds it up, saying, "Candy!"

B1 says, "Joey, put that down. It's not for you."

"Candy! Hold it."

"No, put it down."

"Hold it. Five minutes."

At which, point, I was laughing so hard, I couldn't hear what B1 said. When I recovered myself, B1 said, "'Hold it. Five minutes.' He knows that in five minutes, we'll forget about it."

I said, "That's the advantage of having elderly parents—they forget everything."

Grateful for: my family.

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