When I was a kid, we drove from Rock Island to Garrett in northeastern Indiana at least twice a year to visit my parents' family. But after I moved to West Hollywood, I devoted my trips back to the Midwest to Rock Island and Indianapolis. I haven't been to Garrett in 20 years.
Maybe I didn't want to come back to the country-western music, red pick up trucks, Republicans, rednecks, fundamentalists, casual racism, and incessant "wife and kids! wife and kids! wife and kids!" heterosexism. This is what I moved to West Hollywood to escape.
Last time I saw my cousin Annie, she was ten years old. Now she's 30, a plump hausfrau in a Wal-Mart frock living down the road in Auburn, Indiana. She says "I haven't seen you for so long! Are you still a Nazarene?" and introduces her two sons, Paul, aged five (named after my Uncle Paul), and Phil, aged two (named to be alliterative, I guess). Paul shakes hands solemnly; Phil hides in his mother's arms.
Then her husband, whose name I don't catch: a scary redneck truck driver with an admittedly spectacular basket, but few other attractive traits: a long face, a scraggly beard, and lots of ugly tattoos.
"So, how do you like living in Florida?" Annie asks. "Do you spend all day at the beach, looking at all the gorgeous people in swimsuits?"
"Not really. It's like living anywhere else -- I get up, go to work, go to the gym, come home."
"Are you seeing anyone special?"
I'm not going to mention my new boyfriend, Wade the Beach Boy. I'm not going to come out to a small-town fundamentalist hausfrau married to a scary truck driver.
Indianapolis, September 2016
A funeral. Annie is 45 years old, with a new husband, a 50-ish chubby guy with a moustache and square workman's hands, and, I assume, the supersized basket she finds attractive. They sit with her mother and sons.
Paul is 19, a sophomore at Indiana University, taller than me, curly-haired, handsome, with a stunning smile and a big chest and shoulders obvious even in his blue dress shirt. I wonder if he inherited his father's super-sized basket.
Ok, he's my second cousin, but I can't help cruising him a little.
The full story, with nude photos, is on Tales of West Hollywood.