Somewhere at my mom’s house there is a photo of me in 1983 in a flower girl dress, a home perm kissing a ring bearer who also happens to be my third cousin. That’s not right. This wedding was full on 80’s glory. The flowers and the eyeliner were all teal and the bows were enormous. The bride wore a lace hat. You know the kind. I carried a parasol and my gown was made of dotted lace that looked fresh out of Little House on the Prairie. At that age I still sucked my fingers and I would twist my hair while doing it making it impossibly knotted. I was often left to my own devices with scissors, so I devised a rather elegant solution to the tangles; I would just cut them out. My mother finally cut my hair short, but I remember them having to curl it and aquanet the shit out of it to cover up the bald patchwork. The hair dresser and my mom were cursing at me the whole time through the cigarettes hanging out of the corner of their mouths. My chubby little cousin wore a white tuxedo jacket and kept making Rodney Dangerfield impressions. He was always a charmer and a bullshitter, and while I was getting in trouble for getting icing all over my dress, he was the life of the party. I wanted to punch him.
Even at the tender age of six, I remember thinking at the time that photographing a kiss between cousins was going to be embarrassing. How did the adults allow this to happen? I had first cousins as flower girl and ring bearer in my own wedding and I would never have dreamed of making them smooch just for my own wedding photo gratification. I let them run around and throw flower petals all over the place and stuffed their faces full of cake. Maybe I should have been more bridezilla about it, but I didn’t see them as little miniature versions of bride and groom that had to perform marital acts for the camera.
My kissing cousin now owns a pub and a strip club in the small town we grew up in, in the very building that used to house the teen center, where I spent most of my misguided youth. Not really something I would have predicted in 1983 during the dorkiest moment of our lives. I wonder if he remembers that, or if his mom was sensible enough to let him destroy the photo and forget all about it.