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.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Martha-- You mourn, I think, a little at a time, and isn't it great how the brain sorts all this out in our dreams? Goodnight, sweet prince...xoC

V in Brooklyn said...

Martha, I just finished reading your book about 3 minutes ago. I absolutely loved it.

The book is fresh in my mind and as I began reading over your blog post about your cousin, I didn't want to finish. I noticed immediately you were writing about him in the past tense.

My thoughts are with you and your family. Wouldn't he be glad to know that there's a 20-something year old was enamored with him and his wife?

Anonymous said...

Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!