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  • Robert Bruce Adams

My Cousin's Birthday


ROBIN MICHAEL ADAIR just turned 70. Whether he is your husband, father, brother, friend, or in my case a kiss’ in cousin, we all know we have had him on loan for many more years than we thought possible, and that is good news. In fact, it reminds us that his continued presence falls just short of a miracle. Hark, he’s still alive and it is time to toast him as a Septuagenarian.

Wow, how cool is that, deserving of a capital S.

Let’s credit some of his personality to first surviving his tragic high school car accident, and then making it through the ensuing Texas heart surgery, learning earlier than most, life is truly a gift. There just isn’t too much on the planet that is worth worrying about has been Mike’s mantra since those harrowing high school events. It truly set his stage and is a lesson for us all.

As legend has it, his aortic embolism led to the memorable line, “Houston, we have a problem.” FOX News disputes this contention, claiming it came from conversations aboard Apollo 13. We all know that fake news is rampant, and truth can play havoc with a good story. Hell, just ask James Comey. Jessica asked that no politics be peppered in my toast, so this will be the end of such references. She also advised that I have 1,000 words to get my toast done, so hang with me.

In our early years, Cousin Mike was simply “Mouse,” and I was “Cousin Bob.” We survived camp in the Upper Peninsula spending a couple summers fishing and crafting together. The Mighty Mac wasn’t even completed when we traveled to the wilderness for our first time. The bridge’s massive footings could be seen during our middle of the night crossing on the ferry. What a spectacle to behold.

Kodak slides during the spring solicitation meeting for Camp Nekana promised quite an adventure. The camp owners forgot to mention such things as the fifteen-hour trip in July in an old bus without air-conditioning. And, we still wonder to this day why our camp counselor joined eight and nine-year-old campers for our daily shower? If truth be known, we were homesick, and it was the girl’s camp across our small lake that kept Mike and me in the camp for those many weeks, certainly not the food, or our counselor.

In 2011, a few of us alums who had lasted more than a half a century organized a reunion. Cousin Dick, with his persuasive skills, sought and obtained permission to visit the now privately held property. In mid-June, we landed at the former camp’s entrance just outside of Steuben coming through a tunnel of trees into an open space infested with mosquitos and blackflies. Memories flooded our conscience as we spent a morning walking the old grounds. The real problem, there was no camp, as it had been “nuked,” describing what was left of our childhood camp.

Mike and I recalled standing on the dock at the lake playing with a dying perch. We affectionately called the fish Frank for no good reason. We tried to teach him how to swim. Can you imagine? We thought we were the camp comedians expressed by our carefree ways back in 1957. The memory put smiles on our faces once again during the reunion.

A few years after our youthful camp forays, Mike and I survived a jet flight to Florida where we spent time in Delray Beach with our recently widowed Grandfather. Gramps would spike his orange juice each morning with vodka, telling us that Ann didn’t need to know about his double pour – a confidence and badge of honor that we boys kept under our hats.

Speaking of hats, Mike and I found straw fedoras at a shop in Delray Beach, we proudly donned them atop our heads using part of the $20 our parents had given us for such souvenirs. What a sight we were in those hats. Young bikini clad girls our age came up to us asking if we were from the Bronx? We had no idea what these girls were inferring, and still don’t. But it became obvious they were making fun of us. It was truly the commencement of a string of mysteries involving the opposite sex and I mean mysteries, or is it strings?

Then in college our names morphed into Cousin Rib and Cousin Bib, invented on a Calhoun County farm during our fraternity’s afternoon grassers. This was aided with the help of many long-neck beers as we joked with Uncle Al, the farm’s owner. What intrigued us about Al, he never could complete a sentence and butchering the King’s English helped in the genesis our shortened names. We found Uncle Al far more appealing than our college studies that were quite rigorous, especially when you didn’t study. A similarity that we as cousins certainly demonstrated.

As middle-age came upon us we enjoyed golf trips to North Carolina with Tom Ross and Cousin Fred. Recalling one night when State Troopers had set up an alcohol and seat belt check point. We had taken care not to spill our drinks after a night of fine dining. No one can be this lucky was our take after the troopers waived us through the vehicle check because the traffic was backing up. I’m telling you Cousin Mike has nine lives, and yes, we were wearing our seatbelts!

Now, as senior citizens, Mike and I visit a couple times a year usually around golf and family affairs catching up on our latest lapses. I can report, we have come to totally understand life, and especially women, two mysteries that befuddled us mostly in our early decades. It has become our therapy to discuss our new insights, aided by sips of Jameson’s on ice. Life becomes clearer and clearer during our ponderings – I’m certain there is a metaphor in the making.

A final thought. Can you imagine Aunt Betty admitting that her little boy is 70? Not in a million-years. I think she liked Jimmy, or David better, but that story will be left for another yarn.

Congrats Cousin Rib, Cousin Mike, and Cousin Robin, so many happy memories for a life well done.


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©2017 by Robert Bruce Adams, Author and Humorist