Monday, January 19, 2009
MY COUSIN KEITH
What can I say about my cousin Keith? My earliest friend, my protector, the person who would kick the shit out of anybody who bothered me. Learned to swim with him, learned to kiss with him, learned to do drugs with him. He grew up to be a wild-haired pirate, a joker, a smuggler, the man who taught me to play poker. I spoke with him every single day of my life, and if he wasn't talking food, he was talking cards. He would call on his way home from the poker room to tell me how he'd done--- if he lost he would tell the truth, which is very rare among gamblers. He would share recipes with a glee that would make Julia Childs jealous. One of the funniest bits in Hats & Eyeglasses is when he calls to tell me about balsamic vinegar. I learned how to make lasagna from him, although mine was never as good.
His real name wasn't Keith, but I changed it in the book because he had been in jail and I didn't want to embarrass him. So what did he do? He had a shirt made that said, I'M KEITH.
I should have known that absolutely nothing could embarrass him.
He was crazy cuckoo wild for his wife, Barbie, and loved that she wore thick makeup and high heels every single day of her life. They were content with each other in a way that's very rare these days, almost a 1950's love story.
Everyone who ever met him remembers his easy laugh. On the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, he was walking down the street with a friend when he fell over, dead. A massive coronary.
I have been in shock since then, unable to think about it, as if it would go away if I didn't speak it aloud.
Then I dreamed about him all last night. In my dreams he was his hysterical self. I woke today with a feeling of such joy, such love for him, that I felt I could finally say it--- rest in peace my sweet man. The world is a far bleaker place without you.
Posted by Martha Frankel at 11:08 AM