Thursday, November 25, 2010

Cousins Behaving Well, Cousins Behaving Badly

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" You may be an only child. You may not have siblings. But I'll bet you have at least one cousin somewhere. Aren't cousins fun? I don't know where I would be without mine.

This past week my far-flung cousins sort of came together in an odd synchronicity.

First I heard from my dad's nephew, Cousin Brad. He had found a buyer (we hope) for our farm in Appalachia. He has been living there with his dad (and sometimes in the wintertime by himself) for a long time. Dad Brad is well-mannered and thoughtful, spiritual and an outdoorsman. He is engaging company and has always comported himself in a way that harms none.

Dad Brad wanted me to get in touch with some other cousins of another Dad uncle. Which I did, and they all want to sell the property, and they all are quiet and well-mannered people. It was a pleasure catching up with them. In a jiffy we had a consensus, and I assume that Dad Brad is proceeding with the details of the transaction.

I also have a Mom Brad ... another Cousin Brad who is a BAMF. Trouble is this dude's middle name, and it's been that way since he was a kid memorizing Hitler's political speeches and giving them in German to the general dismay of his WWII veteran father. Mom Brad was a frequent resident at my home when I was growing up, especially after he got expelled from his high school in Springfield, Virginia. Four decades of checkered career later, I also heard from him this week.

Now here's a piece of free "Gods Are Bored" advice: If you send out chain emails, be careful what you send when you hit "reply all."

A mutual cousin of Mom Brad and me sends this stuff all the time. I delete her mass mailings unopened. But Mom Brad opened it, saw that it was pictures of Muslims in London carrying signs threatening the safety and security of Europe, and read the message that we Americans should pretty much annihilate anyone wearing anything other than a baseball cap on his or her head.

Mom Brad, who has lived the past decade in Germany (surprise!) fired off a vitriolic response to the mass mail, sending it not only to our mutual cousin, but to everyone on her "reply" list. She blistered him back -- also to everyone on her "reply" list, and her son-in-law blistered him too. ("Take your medication." Apt as hell, but not funny.) Mom Brad sent an even more feverish response back -- again to everyone -- predicting that the Tea Party would bring our country down as Nero did Rome, or some such.

Coming the same week as the polite emails from my dad's family, I was struck yet again how different my parents were, and how different their families were. Mom's family had dough and patrician backgrounds, and they resolutely behaved like white trash regardless of the big houses and cars. Dad's family lived deeper in Appalachia, on less money, but they had better manners and gentle sensibilities.

Isn't it funny how childhood personalities stay with us as we grow old and gray? I could talk to Dad Brad all afternoon. If Mom Brad calls, I don't pick up. In fact, I go to the mall until bedtime.

Still I sent Mom Brad a private email saying he got mistreated, and that if I was him I just wouldn't open those forwarded emails, they are uniformly aggravating. He wrote back promptly, promising to call me soon.

Time to go to the mall. Oh, crap. It's Black Friday!


THE Alex said...

It is refreshing to see that YOU have a family as interesting as mine, comprised of many different creeds and tolerance levels. What's even MORE interesting is what happens when the husbands (and a few wives) are factored into the equation. My cousins, I am obligated to tolerate if not outright respect/love; their spouses, I do not, and I do not, depending on their individual personalities and sensibilities. Isn't "family" wonderful?

Davo said...

Synchronicity is a peculiar phenomenon, depends on how one interprets it.

Um, don't have much "family" left. have only one cousin still alive who contacts me - about every five years or so .. heh.

Cheers, D