leave your inhibitions at the door
I’ve been thinking a lot about the many things that I enjoy in life – family, friends, food, drink, music, movies, golf, tennis, skiing, travel… Most of them are constant themes that show up in my posts. While I first came to develop interests in those on my own, there was one person who really brought my appreciation of all of those to the next level – my Cousin G. A couple weeks ago, he passed away suddenly. He had recently been diagnosed with cancer and was all set to kick its cowardly ass, but a pulmonary embolism stopped him a couple days before his first chemo treatment. To say we were devastated is a major understatement.
Cousin G excelled at and had a passion for all of those things I mentioned. He traveled the world and told us stories that gave us something to dream about. We’ve played so many rounds of golf and skied all across the country, giving me so many pointers along the way. He taught me a lot about knife and grillings skills and how to make a mean mango salsa. And it was Cousin G that first introduced me and Boom Boom to sushi (and sake bombs) many, many, years ago.
Perhaps more importantly, he shared his talents and passions with everyone. At family reunions he was The Tasmanian Devil in the kitchen – a whirlwind of culinary activity. He manned the grills at an Eastern Orthodox Church’s annual Middle Eastern festival for over a decade (and he was neither religious or Middle Eastern). He didn’t have kids of his own, but loved his nieces, nephews, and any other kid in his life maybe as much as their own fathers.
In my grief, a good friend of mine said:
“We carry these moments for a reason. They make us remember all we receive and therefore all we should give. You too make a difference by sharing all he gave to you with others.”
Without knowing Cousin G, this friend captured his life perfectly. He was always trying to get us to share our talents, but it was through his example that we learned how to do it. That may have been his greatest gift.
We’ve been getting together annually with this side of the family for so many years and I’ve chronicled a few of them here. They’re these giant, insane mixes of old, young, Filipino, Palestinians, corn-fed Indiana natives, family, friends, way too much food, and just enough booze. It was looking like we wouldn’t be able to do it this year, but G’s passing brought us together. It sucks that it had to be this way but, as El Douchebag said at the wake, “I’ve never felt loved as much as I have this week.”
Now the “cheers” part…
It’s been a very long time since this group’s had to get together for a funeral and we had never had to mourn someone that young in years and spirit. More than a few times that week, we heard references about how different people grieve in different ways. So keep that in mind as I present to you some of the highlights of how we celebrated Cousin G’s life…
Drinking this cheap-ass Scotch we found in his cupboard that may or may not have been there since the Reagan years.
While it wasn’t going to make me forget Glenfiddich or even Dewars, it wasn’t the worst thing I’ve ever had in my mouth. That designation goes to this bottle of bourbon that may or may not have been in his cupboard since the Nixon years.
Yes, that’s Mozart on the label because that makes all the sense in the world. It wasn’t sealed properly so all of the alcohol evaporated. Worse yet, the other liquid started to evaporate as well until it was reduced to this murky brown swamp water.
And yes, we all still tried it. And we all promptly spit it out.
Around 1am that night, we decided that a variety of Taco Bell menu items – 80 in all – would be a good idea.
It was a GREAT idea while we were eating them. Then it wasn’t a mediocre idea. At all. There were eight of us.
A few years ago, at around 2AM, we tried eating a White Castles Crave Crate – that’s a box full of 100 of the little burgers. Between 14 people, we were able to eat 98 out of 100. You read that right – between 12 people, we couldn’t eat TWO FRICKING sliders. #FAIL
The night after our Taco Bell bender, as more family came in for the funeral, a dozen of us tried again.
We had sent some high schoolers to go get them and they came back with 10 extra because 100 just didn’t seem like enough. No matter, we had the Eye of the Tiger that night and finished them.
Cousin G would definitely have wanted us to drink his booze and would’ve been cackling loudly at the sight of us drinking the swamp water. I’m not sure if he would’ve been much help with the Taco Bell or Sliders, he would’ve appreciated us raising a taco in his honor.