#12 Keep it in the Family

I promised a post on family. And so you shall have one. Except, of course, this blog is also about love and relationships. So you shall have one of those too. There is only one exceptional way to combine these two topics, and that is to reminiscence about the on forbidden fruit that’s tantalized us all, the cool one, the one we click with oh so well, just like they’ve always known us. Which they have…

Because they’re family.

Ok, it’s never really family family. My friend Calvin had a terrible crush on an ex-step cousin, affectionately called “the cuz” by us, his loving friends. And then there was the couple who went to family reunions only to have their mutual great aunt go through their mutual family tree… every time.

(That relationship, btw, did not last.)

Sometimes it’s your first real crush, and I think I’ve figure out why. It’s not creepy. It’s just that, around the time that you stop believing in cooties and start wondering what happens after “just friends,” you don’t really have many friends of the opposite sex. In fact, the only ones you may know well are the ones you’ve been playing with for years at family reunions. Usually these realtives are made cooler by the fact that they are older, someone whose teenager wisdom and class has esteemed them in your eyes.

I never was into a blood relative (that’s not the norm, by the way, to go full on medieval monarchy, but it’s so much more fun to say everyone’s had a crush on a relative). But my weird family of family love connection happened way after my first crush. I was, sadly, advancing into my twenties. My sister happened to marry a man who had a brother my age, and while this brother of my brother-in-law and I didn’t exchange much at the wedding, we did a few years later when he was living with his sibling. And mine.

Hercules when I first met him. Nothing to take notice of.

It started out with friendship. Then flirtation. And once you threw a little bit of alcohol into the mix (and the fact that this kid sorta looks like a Greek god with his chisled features and curly hair), and it was a done deal. He was nice to begin with, because he learned at least one thing from his mama. But the truth of the matter is that we were both at the top of our game. We were 21, and we both were pushing and pulling and lying and double entende-ing just to see what hoops we could get the other to jump through. I knew exactly what to say to get him to come out to see me spur of the moment. He knew exactly how to use the flexibility of our romantic entaglement to get away with treating me like a lover one day and the ugly sister of the sister-in-law the next.

(Btw, that extra “sister” or “brother” modifier is very important. One of my friends–the one with the twisted step-cousin Cinderella complex–kept asking me about my relationships with my “brother-in-law” and insisiting that the extra “brother” of my brother-in-law was superfuluous. It was not. There was no affair.)

(But WAS it weird that sometimes the shared family characteristics reminded me of his brother, my brother-in-law, my sister’s husband?

Yes.)

Hercules when I met him again. Chisled features and curls, ladies, chisled features and curls.

It got very ugly towards the end of our several month trip into insanity. We had agreed to keep our little non-incestuous fling a secret from our respective and in-lawed siblings. Even after he moved out of our siblings’ apartment into his own apartment, still in the same city, we were covert. I was going out to see my sister one winter, and he suggested that I arrive a few days early and stay with him. I did, and the first night was fabuluous fun. The second day he avoided touching me or kissing me and spent most of the time playing online poker. When confronted (I did not come out a few days early to watch movies at my brother-in-law’s brother’s apartment–by myself!) he hid behind professed residual feelings for his ex-girlfriend.

Listen, this was not one of those relationships in which I cared where his FEELINGS were. My feelings for other people weren’t preventing ME from having a good time with him when I was with him.

Under his prompting I called my sister, said I had surprisingly shown up in town a day early without warning, and had found her husband’s brother to hang out with until I had gotten ahold of her.

How she fell for this, my intelligent, PhD student sister, I do not know.

I left his apartment that night, though I was to fall victim to his charms again in the upcoming months (did I mention his curls?) for just one night, and then I made a clean escape. After a long noncommunicative, nonhostile break, we saw each other again (we do have mutual family…).

We went out for a drink, updated each other on our lives, swapped stories about on going romances. After confessing to his own on again off again flirtations with a girl he worked with, he said, “Yeah. I think I’m going to see how it goes next weekend. I’m going to ask her out, like on a real date. I’m tired of these hot/cold games. I used to be really into them, about a year ago, but now I see that they’re just a waste of time…”

And he snuck a carefully planned Bambi-glance at me.

Puh-lease.

I don’t know how my sister and his brother never caught on. He and I would go out for drinks together. I “showed up” in town a day early. We made out in their apartment. But I never did tell my sister, which pains me because I feel like this is the most post-modern relationships I’ve ever had and she would just eat this up. (Plus I don’t think she really likes this kid anyway, and after the flip-flop way he treated me, I’d enjoy a good gripe session where we could point out all his character flaws and how his life’s a sham.)  And I should have know better, that a relationship between us would have no future, and even a relationship that seems like “just fun” at the time turns sour when you’re nearing the obvious and inevitable end. Or maybe I should have picked up the clue when, during the first night, he said to me, “Hey, let’s not tell Geena and Vincent about this. I don’t think they’d like it.” Maybe I should have agreed and then walked away, because a relationship that you can’t share with your sister is never going to be a relationship at all.

But now we’ve got a great story for our mutual nieces and nephews one day.

So long, Hercules. It's been relatively nice.

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Lizzie
    Jan 04, 2011 @ 00:22:18

    That is QUITE the story! And I love it! Forbidden romances are always the most fun. You know, until they come crashing down around you :).

    Reply

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