by Emily Halaka
ROCKFORD, ILLINOIS – A drunk uncle. A racist grandmother. Someone with some kind of medical degree. For those who desire a happy, balanced household, the structure of the modern American family is tried-and-true. But this past December, college freshman Melissa Arquette elected to throw caution to the wind and unleash turmoil upon her loved ones by adding something never-before-seen to the mix: a second gay cousin.
To their credit, her family immediately scrambled for supportive words like “self-expression”, “totally natural”, and “Susan Sontag”, but deep down, they dreaded the logistical consequences of Arquette’s Sapphic surprise.
“She’s throwing off my ratios,” grumbled Nate Graham, Arquette’s half-brother and self-appointed family statistician slash “smart guy.” “You get one gay cousin per family. That’s how it’s always worked. I don’t know what we’re supposed to do with two of them. Open a dance club? Start wearing our keys on carabiners? Statistically, we’re not equipped for that.”
Arquette’s mother seconded Graham’s concern with regard to the dinner table dynamic. “I know that being ‘loud and proud’ is all the rage, but has anyone considered ‘quiet and respectful’?” complained Mrs. Arquette as she tossed her daughter’s Tegan & Sara tour t-shirt into the dryer. “Melissa can love whomever she wants, but I don’t know if she’s thought this through. Kevin’s already called dibs on the gay cousin thing. It’s first-come, first-serve.”
“What’s next?” complained her cousin Jeff. “A facial piercing? Voting Green party? I had the opportunity to have a shotgun wedding at nineteen last year, but Nate already did that, so for everyone’s sake I refrained! Everyone in the family has a job – we can’t all just go switching around willy-nilly!”
The family’s original gay cousin Kevin’s only comment on the matter was, “Does this mean everyone is finally going to stop referring to me as ‘my gay cousin Kevin’?”