May 062014



Saturday, despite being full of crazy spring storms, was a really nice day all around. First, we had a birthday party to attend for my cousin Danielle’s mom, Janet.

To quickly back-story this bitch up, I don’t have much of a family. My immediate family (i.e. my mom and her side) pretty much kept to themselves, and because of this, I never had a chance to forge any real relationships with extended family members like cousins and great-aunts and uncles. About four years ago, I somehow saw my second-cousin Danielle on Facebook. We’re related because her dad was my grandma’s brother. He died young, before I was even born, so I sadly didn’t get to know him at all, and because of that, I barely got to know Danielle. I hadn’t seen her since I was probably about 4 years old, and she would have been a pre-teen? Teenager? Possibly we may have attended some of the same weddings in the 80s and 90s? I’m not even sure. But I took a chance and sent her a friend request, and suffice it to say, it has been really nice reconnecting with her over the last 4 years.

When Danielle invited us to her mom’s birthday party, I was hesitant because I don’t think I have ever met her mom and, well, I’m incredibly awkward at parties. But in the end, Henry, Chooch and I went and immediately befriended Ruth, an old neighbor of Danielle and her mom’s. Ruth reminded me of what  my grandma might have been like if she actually wanted to purposely talk to me in public. I liked her a lot. So Henry and I sat at a picnic table, listening to Ruth talk about the different sorts of wildflowers she spotted along the perimeter of the pavilion, while waiting for Janet’s arrival.

Another guest arrived and placed a gigantic potted plant down on the gift table.

“Oh, that’s really pretty,” I cooed robotically. And then to Henry I whispered, “My social cues told me to say that.”

“You don’t have social cues,” Henry sighed.

I’m really improving my small talk game these days. Just this morning, I accidentally struck up a conversation with some broad as we crossed Brookline Blvd together and then got stuck into walking an additional three blocks with her, talking about Pittsburgh weather, camping and my kid’s upcoming birthday party.

I don’t even know who I am anymore.

Finally, Danielle’s son Cory rolled up with the chicken and the lady of the hour. Everyone was like, “Yay!” and I was yay’ing too except that I felt like a fraud, you know? But then, after greeting some other guests, Janet came right over to me, gave me a hug and said, “You look familiar…”

“I don’t really know what this makes me to you, but I’m Valerie [blahblah’s] daughter,” I explained with a slight hesitation. Our family sitch is awkward and complicated—like most people’s, I know. But the amount of “write-offs” over the years have left one dead and ugly family trees on my generation’s hands.

Janet gasped a little bit and exclaimed, “You look like her!” Then she looked at Henry and asked, “And…is this your husband? Boyfriend? No, never mind. I don’t need to know!” she waved it off as my mouth started to form my signature “HE WON’T MARRY ME” catchphrase. And then she sat down with us and we talked about the family and it was pretty amazing, I won’t lie. I hoped that maybe she had some memories of my birth dad (I have a post about him pending), but she said that she didn’t really know much about him other than he gave my mom a real hard time.

I mean, that’s one way of putting it.

Suddenly, the calm Saturday air was disrupted by the cacophony of a fleet of motorcycles roaring down the path to the pavilion. I figured it was a bunch of bikers looking for a place to turn around, until Janet casually said, “Oh, here come the Pagans.”


So it turns out my other cousin Skip is a member of the Pagan bike gang and they made quite an entrance. I was terrified yet entranced and did not make eye contact with any of them the whole afternoon because god forbid I should pull some terrible Pee Wee Herman-esque faux pas and wind up being lifted off the ground by a hand around my neck. I knew little to nothing about the Pagans until I Googled them later and then gulped.

When Janet’s sister and brother-in-law arrived, she introduced them to me right away and they were like “OMG” because it seems like as soon as you say the S-word (my mom’s maiden name) around certain people, it’s like RECORD SCRATCH.

“Are you hungry?” Janet asked me. “Go eat!” My favorite words!


What a great afternoon. I got to stuff my face with good food, cookies, and cake made my Ruth’s daughter; take a bunch of photos of Henry looking dumb with food; and get to know a little more about my enigmatic family. I hope I get to see Janet again soon because she is awesome and now I want her to be friends with Henry’s mom.

And I still don’t know what relation she is to me. 6th cousin? Lady person? My cousin’s mom? Great cousin? Great aunt?






  5 Responses to “New-To-Me Family”

  1. I know that sometimes you probably don’t think so, but you have a pretty awesome life. Congratulations on the re-connection! :)

  2. I always say cousin if I’m not sure. Oh, him? He’s my cousin. That really old chick? My cousin. We’re 75 years apart? Don’t be judgmental. It’s totally fine.

  3. Wait, what did she mean, she didn’t want to know? What about his appearance changed her mind? And were any of the Pagans hot?

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