Thursday, July 28, 2011

A girl among men

Scariest villainess EVER, well except for perhaps Kathy Bates

I have a cousin Tenny, she is crazy.  Not as in 1 flew over the Cookoos Nest, as in performance art crazy.  You know these kinds of people, they stare at you in the elevator to disarm you, she will take stuff out of your shopping basket just to see your reaction.  She is fearless and completely self-confident, that is what allows her to be different in such a centered way.  She grew one of 8 cousins, all boys except for her.  For some this would have pushed them to an extreme, masculine, doing what boys do or feminine just to show they are not one of the boys.  Tenny was always just herself regardless of the people surrounding her not pushed in any direction.

Life growing up with a gaggle of cousins is a life of games.  You make them up.  We all went camping with grandpa Chuck, coolest grandpa ever, in his camper.  It was a great trip.  Camping with all us cousins had to be exhausting so grandpa decided he was going to take a nap and he instructed us to stay in camp, BORING.  So we all sat around kicking rocks getting more and more bored until we came up with the game, Hit the Light.  You know how it works, the kids come up with a game that interrupts the one thing you want to do particularly if that thing is nap.  Hit the light was basically kick the can but since we did not have a can you slapped the tail light of the camper and that mean all those prisoners got off scott free.  I think this lasted 3 minutes before Chuck was hollering out the door of the trailer for us to stop making all that racket.  Fine, how about Hide and Seek?  As long as you only whisper he says.

It was this scary to me, the thought of it still freaks me out.

OK, Tenny is it.  Youngest and the only girl.  So we all scatter and hide.  I find the coolest hiding place in these bushes that are somehow both opaque from the outside and transparent from the inside.  Tenny is knocking off the other boys 1 by 1 but she is not going to find me.  As I am sitting there (queue scary music) I look to my right and there is a dead body.  Its a partially decayed teenager, about 15 I would guess, wearing a football shirt, #70.  I screamed like a little girl and bolted out of the bushes much to the humor of my insensitive cousins.  They all decided I lost and the game was over and now we could go find that body!  We gather flashlights, bear mace, sticks, pocket knives, all the good camping protection stuff, and head off into the bushes, nothing.  To this day I swear I saw it, Tenny just says I  made up the story so I could say I was never found.

What, this is a professional sport?

As I said, life with the cousins is a life of games, mostly made up games.  This time we are at grandpa's house and we decide we are going to commandeer his croquet set for a game of Polo.  And since we did not have any polo ponies we would simply use our feet for transportation.  within 30 seconds there is a crowd of cousins around the ball swinging wildly.  Tenny is smart enough to stand back and say someone is going to get hurt.  As was often the case, I was going to get hurt.  I decide there is no way to break the impasse unless a new tactic is applied so I lay on my belly and work to hook the ball out from the crowd.  Why I think this will do anything more than move the crowd to a new ball location is unclear but I never get the chance to find out.  My cousin Attila takes a huge swing and his me right in the mouth with his mallet.  breaks my front tooth off right at the gum line.  All I have left is the raw nerve just hanging there out in the open.  It was crappy.  Note the tooth is no where to be found.  So I am in excruciating pain and it is a Sunday.  luckily my dad is a hippie and he has some cocaine on him which he rubs on my nerve.  I know many of you are aghast at this but I have to say I was grateful for the numbing agent.  Next day they finally get me to a dentist and he is poking around trying to figure out what to do and he says "where is the tooth, maybe we can reconnect it".  No tooth to be found.  He says I will probably pass it in a couple of days, keep our eye out for it.  Well back then I did not poop that often so we never found it.  Until 2 weeks later.  I had such a HUGE swollen lip and it was just not going down then slowly it started to subside at which time there was this scab like piece on the outside of my lip.  Of course  I am 9 so I cannot stop touching it.  Pretty soon the skin breaks away and the end of my tooth is poking through my lip.  Yep, it had been stuck in my lip for 2 weeks.  Back to the dentist where he slices me open and extracts the perfectly intact tooth from my lip.

Tenny says I am such a wimp for not climbing out and getting them.  Well I will not be called a wimp so out I go and crack.  I fall and git my head on the handle of the wheel barrow, broke it clean off.  Not my head the handle.  Grandpa hears me crying and comes out.  "What is all the commotion?"  "Whoa, who the hell broke my wheel barrow?"  Like it was not obvious it was my head that broke it since I am holding my head sitting right nest to the wheelbarrow.  "Tarnation, you ungrateful kids, can't even pick a few apples with out ruining my stuff"  and he storms off into the house.  Tenny says, "why did you go and climb out there anyway?"

A life as the only girl and youngest of 8 cousins added up to acting and film making.  She was part of the ESPN 30 for 30 award winning film, Run Ricky Run, and is now working on a follow up, The Truth Cabin.  Given the success of the previous efforts, ESPN won the Peabody award for the 30 for 30 program they are trying something new this time around, small ticket, $25 donations, with a large number of donors to drive awareness of the effort.  This is part of the Kickstarter arts funding platform, it is COOL.

As I have said many times before, I grew up a dork, as I have also said, I probably still am but less dorky than I was.  Tenny gifted me much of what ever small amount of coolness I now have.  She introduced me to MTV back in the 80s, she introduced me to some cool girls so I was less of a scaredy pants around them, but I am most grateful for her being a great cousin and friend, that helped increase my cool factor in my eyes and that's all that matters.