Summer Lovin’

One beautiful summer afternoon, my cousin Liz, her husband Bernie, and their two children, Attila and Kris, came down to Philadelphia so we could visit the zoo. This was a momentous occasion since I had never been to the zoo with my family; Anyu never allowed me to go the zoo or circus because she was afraid that the lions would get out of their cage and eat me.

Of course, we weren’t in the park more than five minutes before we came across the Galapagos turtles, who were very slowly, methodically, and LOUDLY “making turtly love” as usual.

Attila, being a very inquisitive four-year old asked, “Stephie-néni, what’s are the turtles doing?”

This is not a question I wanted to answer. Not only were they make a terrible smacking sound when their shells rubbed together, but they were also very…vocal…about their behavior. 

“The turtles are hugging, they’re friends.”

He looked concerned, “But why is that one screaming?”

“Because, uh…hey, look, there’s a rhino!”

After a fun day of petting bunnies, seeing wild cats, and eating ice cream, I was pretty tired, so I sat on the bench next to Liz while Attila and Bernie went on a boat ride. I was enjoying the warm summer breeze as I happened to look over at the lake to see Attila waving hello from a paddle boat that resembled a swan. I smiled and thought, Wow. That is cute. This is such a perfect day. . I wish I could hang out with them all the time.
My cousins and I did NOT grow up with any sort of love or affection. Watching Liz and her husband with the kids made me so darned happy – they hug, they laugh, they say, “I love you.” I don’t think my mother, aunt, nagymama, cousins, ANYONE, has said, “I love you,” to each other. So on this glorious day, I decided to drop the “L” word on my cousin.

Just as I opened my mouth, Liz turned to me and said, “So. Are you still thinking about getting that nose job?”

“What…uh, no, I…”

“Because if you’re scared, it’s really no big deal, they don’t even need to knock you out, they just give you a local, cut the tip of your nose, file down the bump, and you can leave that day. If you want, we can go in together – I feel like my nostrils aren’t the same size.”

She lifted up her nose for me to see.
“Liz, your nostrils are fine. And I went to the doc for sinus issues. He says I’m fine for now and don’t need surgery, so that’s good news.” 

“Oh, so your insurance won’t cover it?”

“No, my insurance isn’t going to cover a freaking nose job if there’s nothing wrong with my nose.”

“Oh.” She looked at Kris for a moment in the bassinet and then right back at me. “Well. I just thought it would be a great enhancement to your appearance.”

You know, family can be the best source of tender moments. But it can also be the source of TOTAL. BRUTAL. HONESTLY. But you know what? Being total honest is a way of saying, “I love you.” At least to *my* family.