There is an expression that cousins are the first friends that you ever have. In my family, this is very true. Sometimes even the only friends you’ll ever have. We all grew up together. Some right in the same parish, some in others close by. And most of us went to the same high schools together. We are also very close in age. I couldn’t imagine growing up any other way.
My two closest cousins have always been Boo and Shelly. They are sisters and I can’t remember a time we were not together. Boo is three years older than me and Shelly is two. Our Dads’ were brothers and our family was very close knit. So being the youngest of the three of us, I learned a lot.
I’ll start with Boo. She is the oldest of five siblings, and she is the typical oldest child as far as birth order is concerned. She is the caretaker, the one in charge, the one lending the money. She is the responsible one that led the way and was always there to bail Shelly and I out. And since she is the oldest she also paved the way to womanhood for us. The day Boo got her first bra, Shelly and I couldn’t get enough of it. I can distinctly remember putting it on and prancing around the house saying, look at me, I’m Boo and I have boobies and I wear a bra now. Boo was mortified. Shelly and I couldn’t catch our breath, we were laughing so hard. Boo had it rough always having to go through everything first and always coming to our rescue. But that’s just what Boo did, every time.
Shelly is next. Shelly and I are both the second children in our families and definitely fit the bill in that birth order scenario as well. Shelly could care less. She was the cool one. And she liked to remind me. A lot. When we were all in high school we all worked together at the same place. When we were getting off work and going to a party one night, I asked her if she was going to tell her mom our plans. I will never forget her response. She said something along the lines of, um when you turn eighteen, this magic things happens and you don’t have to call your mommy and always let her know what you’re doing. Well I was sixteen and did have to call my mommy and I wasn’t much impressed with her coolness.
On my first day of high school, I looked like your typical freshman. Well Boo and Shelly were upper class women and wanted no part of me embarrassing them looking like a Benny. We attended an all girls catholic high school. They promptly rolled my skirt as high as it would go. As our Grandma would say, you could see to kingdom come. They put my hair into a messy bun, and made me put my glasses in my purse. They also informed me I was carrying too many books. So I ended up being late for every class and couldn’t even see where the hell I was going. But I looked cool.
Once we got a little older we would party together. I had a great fake ID. It was Boo’s. Since we were always so smart, Boo and I would walk into bars together, Once a bouncer asked, oh what, you’re both Boo O’Connor? What are you sisters? Um, no, we’re cousins, duh. Now who’s the dumb one? Needless to say, we got in with our quick thinking. We would steal Aunt Batsy’s Newport cigarettes and hit the town. We would think nothing of leaving one of us passed out in a car so the other two of us could continue to party. Sounds outrageously crazy now, but never gave it a second thought back then. Wise decisions weren’t our strong suit back then.
When we got older, we were always there for each other. Through heartbreaks. Through bad hair styles. We even used to like to dress alike. I’m talking full on matching outfits until at least college. Nothing strange about that. We were all in each other’s weddings. Shelly and Boo were both my matrons of honor at both of my weddings. They were also there for the birth of most of my babies. Shelly got to see the whole deal up close and personal. But when I was there for her delivery and they needed a urine sample from her, she had the nerve to ask me to step out of the room. So modest.
Now that we all have kids of our own, our relationship is even more important to us. We talk on a daily basis and our kids are also the best of friends. We always hoped that our kids wouldn’t be as weird as we were growing up, but we are quickly realizing they are even weirder. Now that’s saying a lot.
Shelly and I live in the same neighborhood and pretty sure most people think we are a same sex couple with a lot of kids. We like to go on walks, because we’re serious about fitness, and always kiss good-bye before we go our separate ways down the block we live on. There was the time we left the hospital together with a baby. And she was also the one who took me for my MRI and waited nervously in the waiting room for me to come out. We spend an awful lot of time together and have had people admit that they have no clue who is Shelly and who is me. And we wouldn’t have it any other way.
Having cousins that you also consider your best friends is a gift, We like to refer to ourselves as “frezins”; cousins who are also your friends. It works for us. We came into this world as best friends and I’m praying we’ll leave that way as well. We’ve been blessed.