I’ve been immersed in dead family for a week. In between bouts of actual writing I scour old photo albums and scrapbooks and visit genealogy forums, and I feel like I’m drowning in ethnic family trees and gravestones inscribed in foreign tongues, not to mention pages and pages of my father’s literary efforts which deserve their own playing field, perhaps my next project. I also run into my childish work saved by my mother, everything from a poem I wrote in first grade to college essays, my report cards, even a letter from Mayor Wagner congratulating me on winning a silver medal for my essay on fire prevention, the essay itself is nowhere to be found.
For someone who thinks she is unconstrained by history or any fluke of birth, I seem to be taking this whole ancestor thing awfully seriously now. I mean I grew up in an atmosphere where family is inconsequential, my mother has none as far as I ever see and she keeps contact with my father’s family to a minimum. Not that I blame her, I don’t like any of them either, they are all overdressed, garish, superficial, stupid, grotesque, that’s what I think all full of myself and my supposed superiority. So when I hear someone say, oh family is the most important thing in life, it is like they are admiring Donald Duck or Norman Rockwell or veal parmigiana, something tacky and trivial and discordant.
I do like my cousin Dennis. When I am 15 or 16, can’t remember exactly, he is hanging out in my room while our parents chat. First cousins, and we start kissing, we both get pretty hot, and I say let’s fuck and we close my bedroom door, oh my god how exciting I think to fuck with the parents so close. Dennis drops his pants, he is carried away too, he is ready to fuck me on my single virgin bed just down the hallway from everyone, sex is really something, isn’t it.
But then I look at Dennis with his pants down and I start to laugh, so sorry Dennis I say, I can’t, I look at his penis which strikes me as funny and I realize it is absurd to fuck my first cousin, to sit on his squat dick, absurd to fuck him when someone can walk in on us halfway through. So I laugh, and Dennis gets a little mad, and pulls his pants up and buckles his belt and looks at me frustrated and bewildered, and I say, I just can’t do it, we’re cousins, and I leave out the other reasons.