Without naming him, I wrote of my cousin Richard few years ago. He's a cousin on my dad's side -- the side of the family with whom I do not have especially close ties. Actually, that's not entirely true. I do have especially close ties with by dad's brother Steve and with his family, and I have, at the very least, close ties to my Uncle Michael's and his family, and to my Aunt Cristelle and her family. It can even be said that I at least have ties to my aunts Marie-Therese, Elyse, and Claudine, and to their families. To my dad's remaining three siblings and their spouses and offspring, however, I am persona non grata, which is more than OK with me. I am perfectly happy to have my very existence denied by these people.
I hold a very special place of antipathy in the hearts of my Aunt Angelie and her spouse and progeny for good reasons which have been discussed elsewhere in my blog without giving names. In an infamous incident, my well-being was placed in jeopardy, which resulted in the unity of their nuclear family being likewise placed in jeopardy. Alas, all's well that ends well, at least for me. I cannot speak to the wellness of the unity or of anything else pertaining to their family.
When Aunt Angelie's son Richard returned from his mission a couple of years ago, the transition from living the uber-regimented life of an LDS missionary to the life of relative freedom of civilian life was fraught with peril. One would need to qualify the term freedom as it pertains to the lives of the offspring of my Aunt Angelie and her husband, as the only child of their to have experienced bona fide freedom was their son Josh, who was literally disowned by them for having failed to remain on his LDS mission when he suffered a life-threatening intestinal ailment.
Still, the metamorphosis from life as a twin automaton salesman for LDS, Inc., to life as a soldier in God's army serving under my drill sergeant aunt was jarring to Richard even by the most conservative of estimates. Family members did not, at the time, grasp the magnitude of the issues with which Richard was wrestling. We were led to believe that he suffered with a mere lack of direction in his life which compelled him to spend hours at a time in front of the family's living room television, thoroughly engaged with Food Network programming. Richard's fascination with all things related to Bobby Flay did not escape the attention of his mother, who honestly believed she could change her son's true nature to what it should have been according to LDS teachings by the simple act of cancelling her family's cable TV connection.
Alas, in real life, true love, even when unrequited, is not so easily circumnavigated. Richard enrolled in one of the church's universities, where, once again, he had access to cable television and to the Food Network. Not only did he reconnect (albeit with a one-way connection) with Bobby Flay; he found a kindred spirit in his Food Network addiction: one whose connection was not limited to mutual passion for food, but to mutual passion for each other. The close encounter was, to the consternation of his parents, not of the heterosexual kind.
Richard is no longer enrolled in The Lord's University, nor is he, at least as far as she is concerned, enrolled in Aunt Angelie's family. Of course my parents (meaning, of course, my mother; even my dad would have had the common sense not to have touched this situation with the proverbial ten-foot pole) almost immediate involved themselves in the drama. They have offered to fund Richard's education on the condition that he take the remainder of this academic year off and work at any job he can find (they will supplement his earnings to help him meet his living expenses if necessary and will fund his health insurance for the remainder of this academic year) and give himself the better part of a year to get his head on straight (with straight not equating with heterosexual in this sense) so that he will be prepared to focus on his education when he returns to university. Richard essentially tanked a year's education, so this request from my parents was not an altogether unreasonable one.
If the family rumor mill is to be taken seriously, my aunt plans to sue the Food Network and the celebrity chef himself on the grounds that Bobby Flay made her son gay. Good luck with that one, Aunt Angelie.
* I'm being ironic. i'm not REALLY accusing you of causing my cousin to have become gay. Please don't sue me, Bobby Flay.