A single girl learns that dating is complicated enough without involving one's cousin.
First of all, he's adopted. And even if he weren't, he's like my grandmother's cousin's daughter's son, and thus only slightly more related to me than any other Jewish kid with Eastern European grandparents. I'm not even sure of his last name because we're so not related that my family doesn't even talk about them behind their backs.
That being said, I wanted my cousin.
He's of Italian descent but was raised Jewish. This makes him something of a sheep in wolf's clothing. The only time I met him before this fateful Rosh Hashanah visit was when he was passing through New York with his girlfriend. But later on, at my grandparents' house in Toronto, the girlfriend was nowhere to be seen, and as soon as he saw me we stared at each other longer than acceptable by any family's standards. He invited me out with his friends that night and, already sloshed on red wine, I didn't care where we went as long as I got to spend more time with him. The Case For Cousin Marriage (Hey, Darwin Did It)
As soon as we got to the bar, he apologized for the party being so lame compared to what I must be used to living in New York City (thank you Sex and the City). Nodding in agreement, I didn't mention the Friday nights I spend watching the box set. 5 Things To Blame On Sex And The City
He introduced me to his friends as Michelle. Not his cousin Michelle; just Michelle. But as soon as this fairly hot girl came by, he introduced me as "his cousin." Competition—fine. I was talking to his friends anyway. The hot girl asked him how we were related. "We're not really," he said.
"So you could get married?"
I looked at him. "Yes," he said.
I raised a glass that no one clinked. The girl left and we headed to a different bar. After another round of drinks, I found myself dancing provocatively with his friend. As soon as my fake cousin noticed, he grabbed the friend and said, "Dude, watch yourself. That's my cousin." I got nervous; this was something a real cousin might say. But then he continued, "If anyone's gonna dance like that with her it's me." He took my hand and suggested that we leave.
Once safely inside a cab, we got onto the subject of his girlfriend. He insisted that they weren't together. But then he told me about another girl he is seeing, while simultaneously placing his hand on my thigh. His face only inches away, he asked me if I wanted to spend the night. As I fumbled for an answer, he told me I could sleep on his air mattress. I started to think that being cousins was the least of our problems. Should i still keep dating my cousin?
When we got to my grandparents' house, he got out of the car to say goodbye. The motion-activated glare from the garage served as the opposite of mood lighting. With moments to spare before my grandmother showed up, he leaned in to kiss me. He seemed mildly surprised when I kissed him back. There was nothing cousinly about it. Subsequently, my grandmother materialized, looking thrilled that the kids were getting along so well, and pouring cold water on whatever flames might have been sparking. Are You Affectionate In Front Of Your Family?
Now, back in our respective parts of North America, our relationship has dwindled to the occasional glance at his Facebook profile when new pictures are up. Facebook often nudges me to "catch up" and "send him a message," but I forget all about it as soon as I hit refresh. I might see him at some reunion in the future, but it's pretty clear that dating's hard enough without involving family.