I debated for a while on using my cousin’s name in this post… because I’m conscious that in the off chance she stumbles upon this blog she might be embarrassed. But, I remembered that I write these little stories for ME, and not for anyone else… so I should write what I want and need to write.
Shortly after my Grandfather’s funeral, I was confronted by my aunt. She asked me a laundry list of questions about the several occasions I had spent time with my little cousin, Jenny. Jenny is 4 years younger than me. My aunt lives outside of the country, so when Jenny needed to move last year, I was happy to help. I drove the 4 hours to Jenny’s new home and took her shopping to furnish her apartment and buy work appropriate clothing. We spent the entire first day loading my car to the very brim with things for her new apartment. That evening, after putting everything away, Jenny and I went out to a bar. We talked with some random people, and eventually fell in with a group of guys out partying. They were hilarious and fun. At the end of the evening, Jenny and I attempted to flag a cab down, but it must have been too late because we couldn’t find a one. One of the guys that we had been partying with offered to drive us back to Jenny’s place. He hadn’t been drinking (DD for the night) and he was more than happy to drive us home. Jenny and I, despite being concerned about not knowing these boys, agreed to take a ride from them… after all it would be equally unsafe of us to wander around trying to find a cab at 3:00am. Once getting in the car, I demanded the driver’s licenses and phone numbers from the 3 boys. I took pictures of their licenses and saved their numbers into my phone… because you really just never know. They dropped us off without incident, a few blocks from Jenny’s place (so they wouldn’t know where she lived specifically).
It turns out, while I had been documenting the boys that were driving us home, Jenny had exchanged numbers with one of the boys that caught her eye. His name was James and he was tall and handsome, and from the start of the evening they had flirted. He seemed like a nice boy and he was polite and respectful… so when Jenny told me that he had asked her out, I encouraged her to go on the date. She liked him, so I thought it was sweet.
The next day, I help Jenny equip her new place with some other things before heading home. I remember being exhausted driving home 4 hours in the pouring rain, but I was glad that I had spent the time helping my little cousin get settled.
A few weeks later, Jenny told me that she had gone out with James, but she didn’t like him anymore. She still texted him, but she didn’t want to go on any more dates with him. She mentioned it again a few weeks later, and asked me to help her tell him to leave her alone. He had texted me once to thank me for buying him a drink, so I texted when Jenny asked. I told him that Jenny wasn’t interested, but we could all still be friends. He took it in stride, and was a gentleman about the whole thing.
I didn’t think of it again. I saw Jenny again for the holidays and I visited again. Each time, Jenny and I had a good time and I left feeling happy that I was able be a help to my cousin. We had never been close since I am older and we grew up 7,000 miles apart from each other.
However, my good intentions were completely misconstrued and I only discovered it a year after the fact. My aunt asked me what I could possible have been thinking getting into a stranger’s car…. Jenny had told my aunt that I had gotten completely drunk that evening and hopped into a stranger’s car. Fearing for my life, she followed. She then told my aunt that the boys that drove us home were “thugs” and “terrifying.” Jenny had described the guy who drove us as a “middle eastern scary thug” with a huge, expensive car “that he must have gotten selling drugs.” (Just for clarity. The guy was a nice Jewish boy and a doctor at Boston Mass.)
Somehow the news that Jenny had dated James, turned into me pushing James onto Jenny and encouraging Jenny to date a “dead-beat thug.” Jenny had told my aunt that James had stalked her because he knew where she lived. He showed up at her workplace and he wouldn’t leave her alone. Jenny told my aunt that going out with James was my idea, and because she listened to me, she feared for her safety since he was terrifying and scary.
I imagine the stories that Jenny told were so much more vivid and ridiculous, seeing the questions that my aunt had for me. I was dumbstruck and just stared while I got accused of being a bad influence on my cousin and making poor decision. I had nothing to say because these stories were so outlandish and ridiculous. I couldn’t even muster a defense… I was just so awestruck by the fantastical and ridiculous stories Jenny had told.
Lucky for me, my mother stopped the inquisition, but it has made me consider why Jenny felt is necessary to throw me under the bus and accuse me for her poor life choices.
I am an adult, as is she. I have always and continue to make my decisions based on what I think is right or wrong. I admit, I have made some very foolish and stupid mistakes in my youth…. but the time for that silly childish pandering is over because I am an adult. My decisions are my own, and I am responsible for what I do. I guess Jenny never got the memo, because she refused to take responsibility for her poor choice to date that boy and promptly assigned the blame to me, painting me a villain to her mother and the rest of my extended family.
I feel a great sense of injustice that I am being accused of such ridiculous lies, but I don’t feel the need to defend myself. I have done nothing wrong, and everything I did for Jenny was because I wanted to help. I gave with two hands and wholeheartedly showered affection on my little cousin… so when I say that I am shutting the door on her, I can do it with good faith and without regret. I did all I could. I was a good friend, a good cousin, and I tried my very best. I never expected anything in return from Jenny, but I certainly never could have predicted that my good-intentioned help would turn me into a villain.
So. Thank you, Jenny. You’ve taught me a valuable lesson on trust and being good to people… some people simply do not deserve my time, effort, or thought. Thank you for saving my time and money, because I will never again need to spend either on you. I can spend it on the worthy, the kind, and the considerate.