"Your cousin will come to your wedding."

That's the explanation I got, when I asked the obvious question why we were going to cram the whole bunch of us in an air conditioned Ford station wagon and drive all the way to KC in the early spring heat. My mom had a serious sense of duty when it came to her side of the family. We never missed a wedding, reunion, funeral or divorce. I guess we had traveled to at least four different states for these get togethers since I was a little kid. Now that I was 16 I had created the false hope that I could be excused from some of the lesser of these events.

I don't even remember her, it's like 700 hours there and I'll miss the party at the Elks!

These were both lies, of course. I knew that it was about 9 hours, given my stepdad's disinterest in stopping for anything for gas and Slim Jims. I also had no interest in going to the Elks, 'cept to get out of the house and away from little Buddy and little Jim (little brothers who seemed destined to be run over by our riding mower by yours truly).

None of these pleas worked, of course. So there were, all five of us, zipping along Highway 60 towards Springfield, humidity rising up between the hills and coating the two wild boys next to me with sweat and malice.

Buddy-"Get him ofa me, 'fore I kill him"
Jim-"Imma bust him one ina minute, ya hear me Momma?"
Momma turned around real slow and shot the the Look and that quieted them for a bit. Stepfather ignored them both, had the radio cranked up loud so we could hear the Oak Ridge boys realgood . (Bleh!)

I just stared out the open window and tried to recall what cousin Sharon looked like-I remembered her as this skinny little blonde girl with big feet. Cute, but kinda quiet. She had been at Grandmother's second husband's funeral up at Eureka Springs about 7 years ago. She wasn't much older than me and as I tried to do the math in my head I realized she couldn't be anymore than 19 -and soon to be married. I wondered if my Mom knew this and then I realized there might be a pressing reason for both the wedding and my Mom not telling me. So, course I asked:
Momma, is she in a hurry to marry?
Stop it and turned back to the front. If StepDad had even noticed this exchange, he didn't show it. He had just started on his second pack of Winstons and was tossing the little red piece of plastic edging out the window. The sound of tractors clearing some fields drown out the radio for a bit and the wet smell of freshly turned soil swept into the car.

We were about halfway there now, and I had the feeling that the wedding, like Spring, was full of possibilities. I elbowed Buddy, so he could have something to be mad about.

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