Unequivocally Ambiguous

Humorous Stories on Parenting, Culture and Life

Meaning and Connection That Transcends Words

by | Feb 22, 2024 | Relationships | 0 comments

Touring Petaluma, Rye Whiskey, and a Photo With My Little Cousin

I was still living in Barranquilla the first time my cousin Eric visited the country. He was three years old, and through the glass door at the arrivals gate, I could see him clinging to his mom’s arms as she nervously tried to deal with the invasive custom inspection of her bags.

Back then, coming up to the arrivals exit was customary to welcome your family. It was a whole thing. Large families would come along concatenated like grapes to greet their relatives. Some would bring balloons and large signs, and others would bring entire bands of cumbia or vallenato.

Five feet away from the glass divider was a wobbly 4″ high metal fence that allowed passengers to walk out and look for their families and for the small crowd forming behind the fence to look for their family members’ exit to cue the music band and start singing and dancing at the exact moment the person exited.

My family did not bring any of that, but we still made it to the gate exit to welcome my aunt and cousin. My aunt passed us Eric, who was crying hysterically, so she could focus on dealing with customs.

Eric didn’t recognize anyone until we locked eyes, and he immediately extended his arms towards me, and once in my arms, he calmed down.

It was love at first sight, or as close as it can get between two cousins.

But the love wasn’t real. At least, not for Eric. It was a shortcut.

Eric’s brother Juan Carlos looks a lot like me, and at his young age and in the frazzled confusion of the liveliest airport anybody can land on, he thought I was his brother.

It helped that his brother long ago decided to drop the “Juan” and had people call him Carlos because Americans have a hard time pronouncing Juan (Who-Ann — not the IPA spelling, so don’t quote me) and instead pronounce it “One” as in One Carlos.

This is a complete contradiction to the name itself since about 100 million Latinos are named Carlos. There is no such thing as one Carlos, only many, many Carlos, and some Who-Ann Carlos.

I was glad I looked like Juan Carlos because it meant that my little cousin Eric got along with me right off the bat, and we were able to create a lasting bond on that vacation.

It’s been over twenty years, and, as biology would have it, Eric is no longer a baby.

A few months before getting married, he packed up his apartment in Seattle to travel down the West Coast, making stops in beautiful places like Bend, Sonoma, Pleasanton, Santa Barbara, and San Diego.

When he was in Sonoma, I asked him to stop by my house since it is only a twenty-minute drive from where we live.

My daughter waited by the window until she saw them arrive. We ran outside to greet him, and he was far from the crying little boy who had come to Colombia. At 6’1″, I could still see in him the little boy I met in Colombia.

When he came down from the car, I noticed his shorts were so short and tight that it surprised me that he greeted me in his usual tone of voice and not in falsetto.

People say that we don’t choose our family and that our friends are the family we choose. If Eric wasn’t in my family and we crossed paths, he would be the family I’d choose. I’m not into astrology, but we share the same birthday, which might explain the similarities in our personalities.

All interactions with him were easy, and just like that, we spent a wonderful afternoon with my daughters before heading out for dinner.

I took Eric and his wife-to-be, Megan, to a Southern fusion restaurant called Easy Rider, where we ate delicious food. At least my food was; my short rib was so good, I forgot to ask them how theirs was.

After, we walked across the street to Barber Lee’s for a nightcap.

Barber Lee is the local whiskey distillery, and it has a delicious, award-winning rye. Awards mean nothing. Living in Sonoma County, I have drank wine with plenty of medals that taste no better than apple juice in a box forgotten in the car.

In this case, this rye deserves every medal it has.

I’m glad Meg decided to commemorate the evening with a picture of Eric and me sitting next to each other at the speakeasy — him wearing his sweater and his tight, tight shorts, me wearing decent adult clothes.

The next day, Eric texted me the picture Meg had taken of us.

Then he texted, “It looks like I’m shirt-cocking you.”

“Well, I don’t know what that means, but it looks like you are not wearing any fucking pants. That’s what that looks like.”

And just like that, different words, same meaning, a connection that transcends everything.


Leave a Reply

Recent Articles

Discover more from Unequivocally Ambiguous

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading