Thursday, May 28, 2015

Stale as dry toast

Dave and I had a great Memorial weekend with my favorite cousin, Janet, and her husband, Bob. They spent a few nights with us on their way back home to Nebraska.

We click as couples. The husbands are perfectly content to sit on the front porch, drinking coffee while staring at the same spot in the grass. They don't have to say a word and they're happy campers.

Janet and I, on the other hand, talk nonstop until our voices are hoarse and we've given ourselves headaches. (Precisely why our husbands escape to the front porch.) Anyway, Janet and I are alike in a lot of other ways too, probably because we share the same gene pool. We're doubly related. Janet's dad is my mom's brother. My dad is her mom's brother. Brother and sister in one family married a brother and sister in another family. No husband and wife related. Just in case you’re wondering.

Growing up, Janet and I thought being double cousins was really cool. We had all the same grandmas, cousins, uncles and aunts and went to all the same family reunions and get-togethers. We were as close to being sisters as you could be without having the same parents.

We still think being double cousins is cool, although I don't feel the need to tell everyone about the doubly related thing like Janet does. 

Whenever we visit Janet and Bob in Nebraska, Janet shows me off around their little Mayberry-like town and explains our double cousin status.

She introduces me to the gal behind the drug store counter. "This is Jacci. She's my double cousin." Then she proceeds to clarify. "My dad is her mom's brother. And my mom is her dad's sister. We have all the same relatives. Isn't that neat?"

I've told her that people really aren't that interested in the double cousin business. You can tell by how their eyes glaze over. Plus, it sounds like the branches on the generational tree crossed and the kids are turning out funny.

The gal behind the counter blinks. "So, you mean your mom and dad are brother and sister?"  Oh, brother. 

I pull Janet away before she starts on about how she and Lars (who of course are also double cousins), married Bob and Karin who are brother and sister. So now their kids have all the same relatives too. Bring out the banjos.

Anyway, all this to say, Janet and I have a lot of shared family history and memories. As we've grown older, our lives have been running parallel. We seem to go through the highs, lows, and in-betweens at the same time.

Lately we've been talking about getting old and wondering if we've become our parents. 

When we were kids, we vowed that we wouldn’t grow up to be stale like our grownup relatives. At family get-togethers we cousins would run around pitching sheet tents over the clothesline, climbing the bluff behind our grandma's house, and playing spies.

Janet. The double cousin.
Sometimes we'd spy on our parents and aunts and uncles. Which wasn't too interesting. All they did was drink coffee, eat cake, and tell stories. Sometimes they'd play Scrabble.  Stale. That's what Janet called them.

Well, here we are. We're old and doing the same thing our parents did. We spent the weekend talking, drinking pot after pot of coffee, eating yellow cake and playing Scrabble. (I should say, Janet and I played Scrabble. Bob and Dave took naps in the living room.)

We tell ourselves that we are not completely stale though (lame would be the word used now). There are a few differences between us and the generation before us. One, we exercise for the sake of exercise. This is something we never remember our parents doing. Sometimes they walked. But that was just to get from Point A to Point B. 

We also think we look a lot younger than our grandmas did at our age. From our perspective when we were kids, Grandma Lela and her sisters never aged. They looked the same at 50 as they did at 80. White hair, wrinkles, glasses and comfortable shoes. 

Who are we kidding? If we let our hair go gray, wore curlers and shapeless polyester dresses and went around with no makeup, we’d look exactly like our grandmas. We try to picture what Grandma Mabel and Lela would look like wearing bling jeans from Maurices and eyeshadow.  Nope can't picture it.

I take a selfie of the two of us. We’ve just rolled out of bed and are wearing jammies and don’t have on any steel-case undergirding. Scary. Janet looks like Great Aunt Alice and I look exactly like Lady Elaine from Mister Rogers. (Remember her? She was the puppet with a weird voice and a red blotchy nose. She looked like the town alcoholic.)

Ah, well. We laugh over Scrabble and cake. Being stale isn't a bad gig if you're with your favorite cousin. 

We do think of one more thing that separates us from the women who came before us. We don't remember them being as self absorbed as we are. Certainly they didn’t take selfies with their polaroid cameras. 

Janet won't let me post the one we took of ourselves without makeup. But here's one of Lady Elaine. That was one scary looking broad.


  1. We have no doubles in our family so can't relate, but I am comfortable becoming my parents. They were adventurous and enjoyed lots of friends over those games. Gram O did color her hair for a while and "powdered" with tinted powder.

    1. Grandma colored her hair? The things I didn't know. She was snazzy with her clothes though. And with her jewelry. Oh my, I loved Grandma O.