Despite living in the same house and sharing the same room, Caroline and I barely interacted with one another. Even at the dinner table I had never asked her to pass the salt or mustard. It might as well that Caroline and I did not know about each other’s existence, except when it was time for the both of us to go to bed. We slept in the same room since I was sick of being forced to sleep on the couch because Caroline hogged what was supposed to have been my room. Despite the fact I had partially regained control of my room by complaining to mom, I still don’t have my own bed; there were not enough beds around for all of us to sleep in unless one of us sleep in the same bed together. I did not want to sleep with my sister or my mother, and Caroline was out of the question because she had such a small body I’d fear crushing her when I turn over.
I improvised, I pushed two tables together, threw a blanket over it and called it a bed of my own. Of course, it wasn’t as comfortable as sleeping in a real bed, but after spending a few nights on the couch and being constantly awaken in the middle of the night by sounds of sharp screaming of someone next door I was willing to take anything. After spending a few nights with Caroline I discovered she was a very deep sleeper. Once a sauce pan fell off the bookshelf and onto the floor making a tremendous racket, yet Caroline still remained asleep. I also discovered I could sneak up on Caroline and softly sit beside her while she slept, and stare at her tranquil face as her chest slowly moves up and down as she breathed. Thinking about it now, what I did seem creepy, I was like a stalker sizing up his prey. But it was also kind of sweet, a lover admiring his partner as she was still in her tender sleep.
Of course being children we were completely asexual, what we knew about romance were from cheesy Disney cartoons and sex education videos also made by Disney. For all I knew sperm cells have eyes, mouths (though oddly enough no ears) and top hats, and know how to perform synchronized swimming (granted not all sex ed videos I saw were like this, but the ones targeted at people of my age group were). I knew even less about the emotional side of love, especially the vicissitudes of a relationship. One day you could be so in enamored with an individual that you believe any moment without her is like the pain of a million hells; yet another day you are so infuriated by the actions of your beloved, you want to throw her out of your life for all eternity.
Love is a rollercoaster. I recommend those not intrepid enough to ride a rollercoaster to get into a romantic relationship. You’ll experience all the ups and downs without throwing up, except if you get pregnant which is another matter altogether. Fortunately I’ve never gotten anybody pregnant, which is all the better considering the children I will have been raising will have a few extra fingers and toes. It’s not that I’ve planned carefully to always wear a condom each time or use other proper precautions; it was because my partner did the proper homework and kept up with the oral contraceptive regiment that I avoided the fate some other horny teenagers with less prudent partners didn’t.
Of course, I never planned on getting serious with my cousin; it was simply good fortune that everything fell into place at the right time. The stars were all aligned, God was smiling on me, whatever turn of phrase you prefer to describe the events that transpired; I eventually got involved in a meaningful relationship with Caroline.
It had only been two weeks since Caroline was living with us, she had gotten used to the daily routine; breakfast at 8:00AM, lunch at 1:00PM, and dinner at 7:00PM and a few between-meal snacks whenever she felt like it. Yet she seemed merely to go through the motions simply to survive until the next day; she never talked to anyone or showed interest in anything besides television and eating. Even so she ate very little, enough to maintain her metabolism but not enough to gain any weight. She was not that interested in television either, all she watched were informercials.
“For the low, low price of $19.99 you too can own this completely useless combination electric knife, fishing pole and nose hair trimmer. And if you call in now we’ll even send you this anal thermometer that can also be used as a coffee stirrer.”
I don’t know if anyone hawking merchandise during midnight informercials who isn’t running a scam have gotten seriously rich, but if Americans want to buy crap they could always go to garage sales. I’m not trying to disparage the people who are running informercials, I think they are American heroes. Compared with such examples as Donald Trump and Dick Cheney, they represent the most positive image of American capitalism besides Bill Gates, which in itself speaks volumes on how capitalism operates considering how rapacious his business practices were.
Each time I woke up in the middle of the night for a glass of milk, it was sad watching Caroline sitting in the living room, only inches away from the eerie glow of the phosphorescent screen, on the verge of ordering a Ronco rotisserie oven. Sometimes I felt quite sorry for her, I wanted to open up to her but didn’t know how, until an opportunity came on a Saturday afternoon.
Continue to next chapter.