this is my cousin. he is definitely in my top five people on the planet, partly because he laughs when i say things that are only kind of funny. he is the cutest. look at that little pudd'm. so shy and modest. five facts: cousin makes a mean campbell's soup, i'm his confirmation sponsor, alfredo hurts his tum-tum, he's a lippy drunk, and if he shopped at jcrew, he'd wear a size small button up. couldn't you just eat him? e-mail me if you love him.
*alarm vibrates at 10 a.m.
*secondary alarm, the one that indicates sacrificing blowdried hair, makeup, matching socks, vibrates at 10:30 a.m.
*do groggy zombie walk out of the bedroom since there is no third alarm and nothing else to sacrifice except my position as second-favorite child.
*point car at mall of america. jab cruise control. slip into car coma.
*field frequent phone calls from ma pista asking if i'm there yet. look at sign advertising tangier outlet mall in north branch. sigh, respond no.
*get gas station lunch of grapes, yogurt and two string cheeses.
*pull into the lot ma pista described as "oh. you know. the one we always park in."
*see parents shuffling quickly across the street, damn-near jogging. wind blowing, ma pista bounding like a puppy. giggle to self, as this is one of the cuter things i've seen all day. granted, they are competing with my windshield and the bathroom at a holiday gas station.
*arrive at brother pista's posh mansion near randy moss's old house.
*niece mel's face is screwed up. ask her what happened. she shrugs and responds road rash.
*give mel week-and-a-half-late birthday gift. something called a webkin. luckily my friend has given me an earlier tutorial on this gift, from which i ascertained it is like if your beenie babies had a web cam.
*mel shows me her new bike. she can only ride as far as chelsea's driveway. she skids out in pile of snow on chelsea's driveway. the mystery surrounding the road rash is revealed.
*mel shows me the balance beam in her living room. she does cartwheels, sticks them on the wobbly board.
*when i try it, she reminds me to not be like a noodle.
*the first time i come nowhere near landing on the beam. the second one nearly results in cracking brother and sister-in-law pista's hutch. ma pista holds the beam for my third and fourth, where, i feel, i am closer to success than noodle.
*we move onto a game called "american idol" that seems a lot like dance dance revolution. here i school mel, who struggles with the mambo.
*brother pista plays the song "stupid girl" while i'm dancing.
*mel says it is by the band "garbage."
*i tell her she should ask her daddy why he is teaching her about irrelevant '90s music.
*mel shows me her fish.
*mel plays me a song that sounds like "walking on sunshine" except its sung by CHILDREN.
*i run screaming from her bedroom.
*we leave so she can go to gymnastics practice.
*back at the mall, ma pista and i alternate stores. christopher & banks for her. urban outfitters for me. steve madden for us.
*pa pista lopes behind, wandering into photography stores, chocolate shops and eventually testing every bench.
*i start to get the feeling ma pista thinks i'm fat.
*we cannot spend an increment of a second together without her mentioning the show "what not to wear."
*i am in a rare situation where i want to give someone, anyone, money. preferably for a pair of cute boots or mary janes. yet i cannot find anything to buy.
*i settle on two 9 dollar sweaters from limited.
*"i'm surprised you could still do a cartwheel," ma pista says.
*"i'm an athlete," i remind her.
*dinner in-mall. tucci benucch. i order gnocchi with spinach, then teach ma and pa pista how to say gnocchi. just like jcrew [the friend, not the store] taught me on my 30th birthday. this becomes a story about how proctor touched one rochester couple.
*part ways in parking lot they always park in.
*seek liquor store to purchase beers for brew52 project that haven't graced the 558-whatever zip code.
*realize i only know the location of liquor stores near st. thomas.
*cruise up randolph.
*remember that i am in my cousin's neighborhood and haven't seen his new apartment on grand ave.
*visit that cute little bumblebee.
*"wow," cousins says. "you look nice! you're, like, dressed up or something!"
*i'm wearing pink cords from target, a benetton sale hoodie and a polar fleece.
*i refrain from licking his cheek and say thanks.
*multitask by dragging him to liquor store, jcrew [the store, not the friend].
*we agree that this nine dollar headband is cute. i find a mirror. he tells me it looks better back in the bowl with the other nine dollar headbands.
*"whoa," he says. "you look old. like an adult. like this is the first time i've ever noticed that you're an adult."
*cousin giveth complement, then taketh away.
*he talks me out of a 20 dollar white t'shirt.
*i drag him to another liquor store. then make him carry my finds.
*back at my car, he gives me a goodbye hi-five.
*back in north branch i buy another gas station coffee. i spill 22 of the 24 ounces on my car seat, pantleg and floormat merging onto the highway.
*jcrew [the friend, not the store] calls. i describe a perfume to her that i liked, but forgot to write down the name of. i give her a handful of clues and she calls back less than a half hour later with its name, price, and where it has been recently touted within fashion magazines. damn she's good.
*listening to delilah as i near duluth, and a woman calls in a request for her step mother:
delilah, she says. my mom died when i was 14 ... my stepmom took me in and raised me like her own, delilah. she isn't one of those horror stepmother's either, delilah ... blah blah blah ... thankful every day ... person i am today ...
"this is going to end in 'wind beneath my wings,'" i predict to myself.
play a special song, delilah? you probably play it all the time ...
"come on, wind beneath my wings! wind beneath my wings!" i'm chanting.
in fact, we played it at my dad's funeral a few years ago. but it would really mean a lot to me if you could play ...
cue: it must have been cold there in my shadow ...
seriously. god i'm good.
"i'm going to wear my plaid shoes," cousin decides. pauses. looks down. adds: "i look preposterous."