Darn Southerners

Hello. You may not know me, but my name is Gloria's Sister. Yes, that is what I am called when I'm around my cousins from Virginia who were in the area this week for a funeral. I don't know why I'm referred to as "Gloria's Sister". I can't decide whether my cousins can't remember my name or if they truly just believe that they are cousins with my sister only and not me. I'm thinking of having a button made up that reads "Gloria's Sister" and wearing it on our next visit. But anyway, Sharon's sister and I (yeah, it doesn't quite work when I do it) went to my cousins' uncle's funeral (no relation to us) and then after, met up with my cousins Tom and Michael Kane for dinner and drinks at the Norwich Marina. I won't say how long it's been since I saw Tom because that would give my age away. I saw Mike at my Uncle Archie's funeral approximately 10 years ago.

To describe Tom. Hmm. What can I say. I have to be nice because, periodically, he reads my blog. Hmm. Tom is older than me. Much, much older than me. Matter of fact, I think he's old enough to be my father. Okay, maybe not that old. He's actually turned out to be a very nice man. And funny too. Upon looking at the menus, Mike, Tom's brother, announced that he was paying, so order anything we wanted. Tom, without skipping a beat, closed his menu and said, "Then in that case, I'll have page 2." (The entire entree page.) Right then, I knew I had found a kindred spirit in my family.

Mike is my Italian cousin. My uncle married my Aunt Gerry whose maiden name is Quintiliani. (Note: My Uncle Tom married my Aunt Gerry. They were Tom and Gerry. Ha!) Anyway, Mike was the cousin that got the Italian looks. Dark skin, dark wavy hair, Gepetto mustache, and to boot, he's part of the Carpenter's Union. (Sure Mike! Are you sure it's not the Teamsters Union?)

Cousins make great friends because they know where you came from. They typically know how you were raised. They know all your relatives and need no introductions. (Although my cousin Tom had to tell his 80 year old mother, my Aunt Gerry, who I hadn't seen in 30 years, who I was. After 5 minutes of catching up with her, she grabbed her son Tom's arm and said, "Tom, this is your cousin Sharon". "I know Mom. I just told YOU that."). Anyway, it's fun to reminisce about the olden days with folks that were part of it. It's funny what you remember of them. Mike kept telling me that I was a shy little girl and that's what he remembered of me. Can you imagine that? Neither can I.

It's funny how their faces are the same, just with more character. I found myself searching for their parents' faces in theirs. Tom looks like my Uncle Tom. Mike looks like some character from the Sopranos. But as soon as he speaks, that all goes away. When we were kids, my cousins from Virginia only came up to Connecticut once a year to visit. It was always in the summer and there was always a cookout at one of the Aunt's/Uncle's house to commemorate them being in town. It was usually at my Aunt Mary's house because she had a pool. Back then, that was a big deal. I can still smell the aroma of lighter fluid and burning charcoal in the grill. I don't think gas grills had been invented yet. To me, there's nothing like regular old chicken legs, basted with butter, on the grill, with baked potatoes wrapped in tin foil, cooking directly on the hot coals, turning a golden brown that only direct heat can cause, that just screams summer and brings me back to my childhood and those days.

The cousins that came from Virginia didn't know us all that well and vice versa. What I remember most about them was they had to address their parents as ma'am and sir. "Would you like a hot dog?" The cute little kids would reply, "yes, Ma'am", in their southern drawls. They were cute with their military "yes, sirs". But let's face it, they talked funny. (But we liked 'em anyway.) They say, of course, that we were the ones that had an accent. But we all know the truth. We speak perfectly fine here in Norwidge. By fa. And we don't make words last longer than they have to or add syllables to one syllable words. "Whaaaale, I reckon I should just mosey on o'er tha-air for a spay-ill." Truth be told, I couldn't understand 'em as kids and I still didn't know what the hell they were talking about last night. But as long as they keep buying, I'll keep nodding politely as if I do. Don't matter. Won't see 'em again for another 10 years. (Unfortunately, and sadly, that's probably true.)

I noticed when chatting with these folks that, in my family, we don't brag about our accomplishments, or try to outdo each other with who has the biggest house, the most money, the fanciest cars. No, in my family, the true competition lies in who has committed the worst crime. Mike claimed to be the first "bad boy" in the family, telling us tales of his juvenile delinquent antics. I promised not to divulge these types of personal things like what he did in my blog. I stand true to my word. (Call me. I'll tell you everything!) To figure out who was second place in the line up of disappointments to our parents, we had to turn to other cousins who were not there to defend themselves. They couldn't embellish their younger day mishaps. All I know is I wasn't even in the running, having never been arrested. Always left out of everything!

My Aunt Mary and Uncle Tom were twins. We asked Mike when my Uncle Tom's birthday was (his father). Trying to use some calculation that would help him figure it out, he said, "Well, let's see, Aunt Mary's birthday was in May and I think my father's birthday came sometime after that." Me: "Um, Mike, they were twins...they'd have the same birthday". “Oh, yeah...Right." I didn't say my Virginian Cousins were bright. I said they were cute.

Oh, I guess us Connecticut Kane's our flawed too. Well, at least my sister is. Ha! Count 'em with me people. Not once, not twice, but three times my sister knocked over her full glass of wine. At one point, I told the waiter to just pour her wine on the table and give her a straw. You might consider her unlucky (or clumsy!) that this kept happening. But I would disagree. The wine spilled on my cousin Tom's camera but it was in its case, protected. Lucky! It spilled on my Blackberry but my phone was keyboard-side up, so the only thing that got wet was the camera part of the phone. Let me tell you, she's VERY lucky that it didn't spill on the keyboard! And unlike me, she was 3 glasses shy of alcohol poisoning. Lucky, indeed. She was also lucky that she didn't have to drive. Her husband Chuck wasn't drinking. Oh, except for the 6 shots of tequila he did. But those didn't count because he was drinking soda.

I don't know when the bill got paid or how much it was. We were there for 7 hours so it must have been close to 4 digits. I don't remember if I contributed or not. I'm fairly certain I didn't. But I had earned my keep by making the decision to go to the marina that evening. That was a hard decision to make and my payment was in sweat equity. But it turned out to be a great place to go. It was a beautiful night at the Marina. Warm, no mosquitos, and they had a band there that granted us the opportunity to play name that tune. This provided the perfect opportunity to make asses of ourselves. The lead singer challenged the audience, "The first person who can name the next song, scream out the answer, and if you get it right, you can buy me a drink." Well, of course, my sister and I took on the challenge and yelled out the answer. Did we end up buying him a drink? Probably.
Seriously now, I want to say thank you to whoever picked up the check. I think it was Mike. If so, Mike, McDonald's is on me next time you're in the area. LMK. (Now, we covered this several times during that evening. Do you think the rebellious, I'm-not-into-technology-and-refuse-to-give-into-it-but-will-text-if-I-need-to (Gloria and Mike) will remember what LMK stands for? And no, it doesn't mean "Like Michael Kane"! They're probably scratching their heads right now saying, "Now what did that stand for?" Oh no they won't. They don't use computers so there's no way they can read this blog. Unless, of course, someone prints it out and sends it to them via pony express.)

Anyway, I tease, but it was a fun night. As cousins, none of us really look alike (see pictures below), and we all have different tastes, and viewpoints, and have very little in common with each other EXCEPT for one thing. We all have been granted a great sense of humor. It was a laugh a minute and my sides ached the next day from laughing so hard. Hope to do it again soon.

Gloria's Sister

P.S. LMK = Let Me Know. Both my sister and cousin Mike tried to correct me by saying it should be LM*N*, not K. Yeah, Mike is Gloria's cousin alright, not mine. These are the same two people who had to discuss twice that when texting, Mike wanted Gloria to know in advance that if he ever types the letter "k" to her, this meant okay. As if this needed explanation. Not once, but twice we had to review it. And Gloria had to explain back, twice, that she types "ok" and that means okay. Lord, it must be tough to get old like them. Anyway, I'm Tom's cousin because not only does he remember my name, but we both know how to spell 'know'.

From L to R: Tom Kane, Gerry Quintiliani Kane, Mike Guido Kane

From L to R: Tom Kane, Chucky Daddy Butkiewicz, Sharon's Sister (Ha!), Nancy, Mike, and yours truly.

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