Monday, November 24, 2008

kissing cousins

tonight is the annual grant family reunion. it is a massive display of relational togetherness. the refreshments always include pigs-in-a-blanket. the grant family reunion is also the scene of my discovery, three years ago almost to the day, that i was, in fact, dating my cousin.

no, most unfortunately, your eyes do not deceive you. yes, most unfortunately, i dated my cousin. briefly. and he is actually my third cousin. but neither of those things made it any better. third cousins might be legal, but it is still totally gross. as soon as you realize that's what's going on, of course. which i did realize. in the middle of a family reunion. the story goes a little something like this.

when i first moved to salt lake, three eventful years ago, my new co-worker, we'll call her ruth, came to my desk and said she wanted to set me up on a blind date with her step-brother. let's call him jake. blind dates were a whole new thing to me then (i know better, much better, now) and i was anxious to meet people and ruth was (and still is) a cool cat, so i agreed.

date number one went well, as did date number two, as did date number three and so on, until jake and i had been hanging out for a couple months. i really, really liked jake, and much to my dismay, there had been no lip-locking. but that turned out to be a blessing. as you will shortly see.

november rolled around and it was time for the grant family reunion, a gathering of the countless descendants of my great-great-grandfather and his three wives. (no, your eyes do not deceive you. three wives. ask a mormon.) it is a pretty big gathering of assorted kin, and i was really looking forward to it as, having never lived in utah before, i had never attended the grant family reunion. i had heard especially good things about the pigs-in-a-blanket.

so, there i was, sitting in the chapel with my roommate/cousin/friend anne (real name, because she has nothing to hide), waiting for the program to start, when anne turned to me and said, "that guy who just walked in totally looks like he could be jake's brother."

i turned around. she was right.

a few seconds later there was a death grip on my thigh.

"it is jake's brother!" anne hissed. "because jake just walked in."

i turned around again and there, to my horror, standing right before my eyes, was my object of great affection. at my family reunion. what was he doing there? well, sad reader, it was his family reunion, too.

immediately i had what i can only assume was the oft-talked-about crisis management response of flight or fight. i could run away, never to return again, disown my family and continue in genetically-dangerous bliss. i could run away, stop returning his phone calls and hope for the best. or, i could stay and confront this, the most awkward and horrible moment of my life.

can you guess what i did?

i stayed.

but really only because intense panic had me rooted to the seat. and because jake hadn't seen me yet, and getting up and running away and possibly barfing before i made it out the door would only draw attention i was trying to avoid. it was, i assure you, complete agony. i am surprised my eyes didn't catch on fire with all the blushing.

as soon as the program was over, i got up and bolted into the room where we were having refreshments (read: pigs-in-a-blanket). he still hadn't seen me. what to do? i couldn't leave now, with delicious cocktail sausages wrapped in soft, flaky pastries right before me eyes.

my phone rang.

it was jake.

i answered.

me: "hello?"
him: "hey, i was just calling to see what you're up to tonight."
me: "well, actually, i am at this family thing."
him: "that's funny. me, too."

i walked back into the room where he was. he saw me. i waved. "same family," i whimpered.

the rest is all sort of a blur. there was some awkward laughing, some quick genealogy and then a super painful exchange of "hey cousin" with little punches on the arm before we both ran away, me to the pigs-in-a-blanket. i was hoping to keep the whole terrible thing on the down-low, but word spread pretty fast. probably because of this little exchange between me, anne and our cousin, david.

david: "well, i just have to say that some of these grant boy cousins are very attractive. like those two brothers over there."
anne: "funny you should mention it. frances agrees. she's dating the one on the left."
me: shamed silence.

or when my grandpa came up to me and said, "i know jake! of course. i see him here every year. why didn't you tell me it was him?"

my cousin bruce came over and said, "you really shouldn't let this stand in your way. it's not that big of a deal. they're not even going to have the grant family reunion anymore, so this will never happen again." why no more grant family reunion? i asked. "too many cousins dating," he replied. "totally awkward. we're just going to get together at the weddings."

totally not funny.

despite a little research, which revealed that third cousins is not only legal but genetically unconcerning, i don't think you'll be surprised to hear that it did not last for me and jake. in fact, the next time we spoke was at the grant family reunion a year later. the humiliation has (mostly) faded by now, and the whole experience has turned into one of my greatest hits as far as bad dating stories go, which i guess is a good thing, as those things go.

it certainly has changed the way i go about dating. for one thing, i demand a fairly specific family tree run-down before things get too serious. and i try a lot harder to remember my cousin's names, along with unusual stories about them that might throw up a red flag. (the scene: first date dinner. him: "well, this one time when i almost lost my arm in a shark attack in barbados..." me: "who did you say your great-great-grandfather was?")

but, most importantly, i never miss a grant family reunion. you just never know who might turn up.


Kate said...

I think your only safe bet is to tag along to a friend's family reunion: 1) Your friend can vouch for prospective dates and 2) you can be reasonable assured that you are not related to anyone there.

I giggled so often while reading this post that Kevin, who rarely wants to know what I'm reading online, carried the baby over so he could read over my shoulder.

4 Reale said...

Frances. You. Are. My. Hero.

Your Mom said...

one of my favorite stories.

Miranda said...

I love this story. I remember getting a Cliff's Notes version when I first met you. I must say that all of the details included in your blog post make it even more of a classic.

Sarita said...

Frances is full of the best stories ever. How DO you do it?

suvi said...

This one has been and forever will be one of my favorite stories ever. Oh, I giggle every time. Only thing that would make it better is if only you two had kissed. Also, you forgot the part about your mom saying his mom was "like a sister" to her.

I miss hearing Frances dating stories!!

Ashlee Kate Christofferson said...

I am laughing out loud right now. Great story!

The Wi Family said...

I'm so sorry--but this totally made me laugh. I love reading your blogs! I feel enlightened every time :)

lenalou said...


Alison Hyde said...

And here's the flip side: my college roommate back in the day was dating a guy I truly did not like, and the feeling was clearly mutual.

So being at BYU, I was able to go to my first Grant Family Reunion since I'd been maybe three years old. And arriving from Provo, the guy walking in immediately after me, was... You guessed it.

And we turn to each other and say, in unison, "You're not a Grant, are you?"

By the way, if you go to there are copies of Gram Bennett's "Glimpses of a Mormon Family" available from various sellers, if you don't have a copy.