Four Cousins and a Funeral
The word mischief conjures thoughts of kittens with rolls of toilet paper, puppies with shoes, young children devising a plan to steal cookies from the cookie jar, and mostly, my brother, Ian, and cousin, Scott.
Growing up, Ian and Scott acted like typical little boys. Now, in their 20s, they still act like typical little boys. And let me tell you, it’s enchanting. Something magical happens when we’re all together. By “we”, I mean Ian, Scott, Jenifer (another cousin), and me. Some of my happiest childhood memories include seeing how many stairs we could jump down and land (our parents yelling in the background that if we broke our legs, they would not feel sorry for us), zooming down our grandparents’ driveway on tricycles and straight out into the street (this one really irritated the elders due to every documented match of “child vs. car” ending in a child’s defeat), learning how to ride horses at my aunt’s farm in the countryside of Southeast Iowa, and spending hours playing on our grandfather’s old crank telephone. As an adult now, some of my happiest grown up moments are with Scott, Ian, and Jenifer. We each have very distinct and different personalities. Ian is fun and care-free. Scott is thoughtful and fatherly. Jenifer is the humanitarian and sensitive. I’m artsy/nerdy and worry warty. We come together to fit like a puzzle.
Ten years ago my grandfather died. So like every January for Family Christmas, we piled into a car and drove from Chicago to Fairfield, Iowa. Only it was August and the usual laughing would be replaced with considerable amounts of crying. Per usual, Dad would try to beat his driving time and I could count on the biggest, warmest hugs from my aunts, the most maternal women I’ve ever met in my life. I think it’s because of their enormous breasts and smell of pie.
Upon arriving, we were greeted by sad, yet relieved, family members. No one wanted Grandpa Stanley (yes, I have family members named things like Stanley, Millard, and Norma…..we’re from the Midwest, what do you expect?) to go but he was in excruciating pain. One of the most difficult experiences in life is seeing a loved one active and able in nature stuck in bed and miserable.
The whole family had dinner together and went our separate ways. Separate ways in our family means that Ian, Scott, Jen & I split off from the group & find ways to entertain ourselves. What was tricycles and horses has since been replaced with pot and pool tables. Unfortunately, Jen wasn’t in town yet so she would be missing out on the evening’s activities.
Back at Aunt Sharon & Uncle Millard’s farm Ian, Scott & I decided we should take the golf cart out for a while that night. It was a hot night. The Midwest gets very hot in the summer. Hot and muggy and sticky and buggy. It’s gross. So we get to a kind of clear area between cornfields off the road a little bit and that’s when the fun begins. True to form, Ian pulls out a glass pipe and a bag of pot. Because, well, that’s just what you do in a cornfield at night.
He packs it up & we start passing it around.
Me: Hey, this pipe is clean right? Not like last Christmas when you had us smoking out of that pipe you & your friends were smoking opium out of, right? That fucked me up and made me trip. Tomorrow’s Grandpa’s wake & I really don’t want to look all strung out for our grandfather’s wake.
Ian: Yeah yeah yeah, it’s fine don’t worry. You’re such a sissy. Chill out, sissy. (giggling through this whole exchange)
Scott: Hey dork, just take a puff & pass it. Dork.
Me: Shut up.
Me: (took a hit, coughed and immediately felt that euphoric tingling you get from good pot)
We sat out in the cornfield for a while, talking, reminiscing, and mostly laughing. At one point we realized it was getting pretty late & figured we should head back before the more paranoid elders decided to come looking for us. So we started driving back to Sharon & Millard’s.
Ian: Uh, there isn’t barely any juice left in this and we need to get up that hill.
Scott: I told you that before we left.
Ian: Did you? I forgot. Wait. I know! We could go down this hill over here, gain momentum and up over that way.
Scott: Good idea. Here, I’ll hold the flashlight while you drive.
Ian: Nah, this is more fun without the flashlight. I don’t need that thing.
Me: Are you crazy, dumdum? Please, put the flashlight up.
Ian: Don’t get all paranoid on us now, sissy. You just sit in the back & stay chilled. (still giggling like a 4-year-old on a sugar buzz)
Please note that my brother, cousin & I each other names as a term of endearment. I call them “muffins” and “shitbags” and they call me a “sissy” and “dork”. It’s equally embarrassing for all parties involved.
So along we rode down the hill laughing & enjoying each others company. In my head I remember thinking…wow, Ian’s right, this is superfun I have so much fun with him I miss my little brother when I’m at college and Scott too I sure love those two this is really fun yay wheeeee and tomorrow we’ll see Jen and then we’ll all be together again that’ll be the best I can’t wait hold on are we slowing down what the hell hope we have enough power to get up the.
We just stopped at the bottom of the hill. The golf cart hadn’t hit anything. It just slowed quickly and stopped. Damnit. So we finally pulled out the flashlight to see what was going on.
Upon turning on the huge portable light-providing gadget we discovered that we were staring a fallen tree in the face. Like, the branches were literally 3 feet from the front of the golf cart and at our eye-level and ready to do some serious damage to our peepholes.
Simultaneously, our 3 stoned jaws dropped, looked at each other, tipped our heads back towards the sky and said “thank you grandpa”.
Quietly and calmly, as if respecting the situation, we decided that I would steer while Ian & Scott pushed the cart up the hill. I insisted that we keep the flashlight on. There was no argument against me this time.