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Kissing (Someone Else’s) Cousin

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Come Kansas, it’d been awhile since Megan and I had seen “ethnic” food of any kind. Right, I know, we saw it in Wisconsin, but just trust me on this: when you’re from San Francisco, not having daily access to a burrito is bizarre.* So when Meg wanted to set me up with her cousin, who suggested a restaurant that served Dos Equis XX and enchilada sauce, no way was I looking a gift horse in the mouth.

I met the cousin on a small bridge connecting two walkways at the university he works at as an offensive football coach. He did not say much to me, so I let him and Meg chatter away while he led us to his apartment. Because yes, the cousin also happened to be our homestay in the tiny town of Emporia, Kansas. And within minutes, there I was: the pile of bags that make up my life at the moment, smelly running shoes and all. Not only was I going on a first date with Meg’s cousin, but I was going to be going home with him too, whether I wanted to or not.

This was either going to go so wrong, or so right.

I always have a backup plan when it comes to a first date. If things are going awkwardly and my conversational chatter falls flat, I start asking questions about dating. I know, this seems both intuitive and yet completely wrong at the same time; intuitive because hey, I’m making a movie about dating! But bat-guano insane because who the hey talks about dating on a first date?

See, a few days back Megan and I chatted about keeping things fresh and interesting by discussing the past, present, and future dating experiences of each of my dates. Skeptical about whether I could ask an absolute stranger about the first time he fell in love, I considered what that would look like. When you have nothing else to say to someone, you look for a common thread; and most everyone has at least a thought about love, whether or not they believe in it. The topic of love is not just a conversation starter — it’s the appetizer, main course, dessert and coffee afterward.

Interestingly though, my date with the cousin went so right, and thus actually left me not needing to rely on my backup plan. After sitting down, instead of feeling like an interview, it felt like I was on the epitome of a first date. We got to know each other. We bantered. We asked questions. He was so polite he even poured me my own salsa in case I didn’t like sharing things (hello, demonstrations of being considerate and thoughtful, though it was unnecessary).  As the restaurant closed down around us, we lingered over the last of our beers, and then of our water, until we were kicked out around the bewitching hour of 10pm.

And then, like any good first date, I went home with him and Megan, and the three of us sat on the couch watching ABC Family television shows.

*#firstworldproblem. I know.

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