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Mike Maddock, General Manager
2006-09-15 / On Second Thought

It's not a criticism, it's an observation.

Cousins in the South
Mike Cox

My Uncle Willard and his family came to visit when I was a teenager. He had a son and two teenage daughters. I was introduced to the family, then I left with my buddy Mike, who let me spend the weekend with him so the girls could have my room. This assured my father I wouldn't disgrace the family by getting involved with blood kin.

My brother Rick got volunteered to entertain the girls. He had better things to do, so he handed them off to Mike and me. We went to a drive-in movie and met Rick later on. None of the adults knew what transpired. We even snuck them back out later on that evening. It was my bedroom; I was good at sneaking in and out.

Mike had a nice time with Yvonne. Bonnie and I, although we had never met before, were put off because we were first cousins. We discussed it, tried to overcome it, but couldn't get past the creepy idea we were related to each other. I never saw either girl again.

Cousins can make for odd relationships. Not quite siblings but more than friends, cousins make things complicated in many ways. Maybe because we were primarily a rural society, families in the South grew up in close proximity to each other and sometimes stayed that way. Fathers subdivided farms among the children and the resulting kinfolks lived, played, and grew up together.

Up north, Irish and Italian families are large and boisterous, and get together at special occasions to eat, drink, and act like fools. Then they don't see each other until the next special occasion. Cousins don't seem to be so intertwined as in the South.

Most southerners around my age thought it was natural to have cousins as playmates and best friends. Older cousins probably solved some of life's first mysteries and a lot of us are still in therapy because of what they told us. We may have also learned our first anatomy lessons from cousins of the opposite sex.

These particular relatives can also create havoc for respectable family members. Every pro athlete caught with drugs or guns in his car claims it belongs to his cousin. Most of us have had our butt kicked, our car wrecked, or lost a girlfriend because of some stupid cousin.

Southerners and cousins in the same sentence usually means trouble. We are even accused of marrying them on a regular basis. But a recent story I heard proves goofy cousins exist everywhere.

A friend told me a story about going to Ohio to meet his fiancée's family. During a party, he was warned about two sisters who were first cousins.

When he asked why, his future bride told him they approached her at her dad's funeral, mentioned how much they thought of him, and asked for something he owned just to remember him by.

When she inquired if they had something in particular in mind, they said yes, the snow blower would be perfect.

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