Cousins

Rehoboam was in Toronto on business for two weeks when he decided to call his cousin, Tamar and ask her to have lunch with him the following day. The last time they saw each other was before he moved to London. That was ten years ago and she was 12 at the time. They had been very close. She had always told him that he was her favorite cousin. To him, she was like a little sister.

She sounded very pleased to hear from him and they chatted for over an hour before they made arrangements to meet at the restaurant. When she showed up, he almost didn’t recognize her. She went straight up to him and hugged him. “It’s so good to see you, Re,” she said.

“Wow. You’ve grown since the last time I saw you,” he exclaimed, looking her over. “You’ve bloomed into a beautiful young woman.”

She smiled shyly. “Thank you. And you’re as handsome as ever.”

They went into the restaurant and were seated by the window. “So, how are you doing?” he asked.

“I’m doing well, thanks. How about you? How do you like London?”

“I like it but I miss Toronto. How is everyone doing?”

“They’re doing fine. When I told Mom and Dad that you were in Toronto, they made me promise to ask you to come for dinner on Saturday evening. They are just dying to see you. How are Uncle Reg and Aunt Zalina?”

“They are doing well. They’re thinking of visiting in August.”

“How is Merari? Is she still boy crazy?”

He smiled. “Yes. I can’t keep track of her crushes. Last week it was a senior named Joseph and this week it’s a boy in her Math class. I can’t remember his name. What about you? Are you dating anyone?”

She shook her head. “No. And you?”

“I’m dating a woman I met last year at a mutual friend’s Christmas dinner party.”

The waitress came then with the menus and to take their drink orders. After she left, Tamar said, “You know, looking at us, no one would think that we’re related. We don’t look like we’re from the same family at all. I remember when you took me to school one morning and I told this girl at school that you were my cousin, she called me a liar. We got into a fight and we both had to stay after school. I never did like that girl. I think she was jealous because I had such a handsome cousin.”

He chuckled. “You’re right, though. People find it hard to believe that in one family, there could be such diversity. Our fathers are twins married to two women of different races. Aunt Karen is married to a German and Uncle Frank’s wife is Japanese. Not to mention our cousin Jennifer whose husband is Iranian. Our family is multi-racial and multi-cultural. I think it’s wonderful.”

“If your girlfriend were to see us having lunch together, would she think that you were two timing her?”

“Not if she trusts me.”

“Trust is very important in relationships.”

The waitress returned to take their orders.

“Yes, it is,” he agreed.

“How incredible it is that there haven’t been any divorces in our family.”

“Yes, that’s remarkable. I have so many friends whose marriages ended in divorce and they have had nasty custody battles.”

“Do you think you’ll ever get married?”

“I don’t know. What about you?”

“I used to think about it a lot when I was growing up and wished that if I did, I would be happily married like my parents. Now, I don’t think about it much. If it happens, it happens.”

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Over Butter and Punjabi Chicken dishes, they reminisced. For dessert, they both had the Mango Lassi and then it was time to part company. “I truly enjoyed lunch,” he said when they were standing outside on the sidewalk. “It was really great seeing you again after all of these years.”

“It was really great seeing you too. Thanks for asking me out to lunch. I had such a wonderful time, talking about old times and catching up. You will come and have dinner with us on Saturday evening, right?”

“Of course. I wouldn’t miss it. Besides, you and I will get to see each other again.”

“We don’t have to wait until Saturday to see each other again,” she said. “Let me take you out for dinner at this great Thai restaurant tomorrow evening at seven.”

“I’d like that very much.”

“I guess you don’t need a ride to your hotel. It’s close to here, isn’t it?”

“Yes. Do you have far to go?”

“I live about twenty-five minutes from here. It isn’t far to the subway. See you tomorrow, Re.”

“See you tomorrow, Tamar.”

They hugged and then parted company. They went in opposite directions, each looking forward to seeing the other the following evening.

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