My Cousin Katie (or, June keeps saying she won’t be here and yet here she is again)

So, I was getting all ready to leave for the beach, and by the way there is a thunderstorm right now and this is so the story of my life, when I realized it's my cousin Katie's birthday.


I have done NOTHING for her birthday. Nothing.

Dudes. When did I get so scattered? I am not this person. I am good about birthdays. I've had a lot on my mind this week, and those of you who are members of Pie on the Face on Facebook have the inside guff on THAT, but still.


So I thought I'd get on here and write a little something for my cousin Katie. Who has never done anything mean to me in her life. Like, for example, forget all about my birthday. Which I did not technically FORGET, but look at this week on my calendar:

See the 9th through the 14th? See how there is someone every day? See how there are people having birthdays TWELVE DAYS in August? August is my Christmas. So I KNEW it was her birthday and I kept thinking, "Oh, yeah, I gotta get Katie something" and then I'd look at a dust moat or something.

So Katie, here is your gift. I am blogging about you. Just as good as new earrings, right?

My cousin Katie was born 12 years after me at a time when everything was dark and we had no facial features (and yes that IS my large adolescent feathered hair), and personally I was annoyed. I was an only grandchild on one side of the family, and on the other side, I had been the only LOCAL grandchild for 11 years. My cousin Jimmy had been born the year before, and although it's true you have never seen a cuter baby in your life, going to gramma's was clearly not the same after he was born. There was CRYING and COOING and some little toy that played Three Blind Mice over and over again until I wanted to stick blind mice in my head to chew out my eardrums.

People suggested I was jealous of the lack of attention, but I have never wanted for attention. I was still ONLY GRANDCHILD on the other side, and I could always drum up the spotlight if need be. Really, it was just the whole having-a-baby-around thing that grated.

So when Katie was born, I was all, Oh, man. Is this ever gonna end, with my aunts popping out the babies?

And by the way no it didn't. Between 1975 and 1981, my two aunts had five babies between them. Someone was always knocked up.

But once Katie, you know, wasn't a blobby baby, there was something about her I took to. Maybe it was the blonde curls. Maybe it was the part where she worshipped me. Maybe my nude Candies accented by the nude hose warped my perception.

Everything I did, Katie thought was cool. She was forever sneaking my makeup (and at the time I was only buying myself Chanel makeup. Because I was worth it. How did I afford Chanel makeup as a 19-year-old? I believe the power of the Hudson's credit card is how I afforded it) and slipping on my neon bracelets and trying to capture the hep that was June in the '80s. And really, who could get a grip on that mercury?

Here we are wearing matching snoods at Christmas. I know we're at my mother's because of the peace sign on the tree. Also, that ridiculous star is left over from my first apartment. I had Katie and her sister Maria come help me decorate the tree, and they made me that star. My mother is the kind of person who puts hideous homemade things on her tree. In fact, can you see the terrible peach-and-pearl ornament nestled down there between Katie and me and our snug-fitting sweaters? I made that in Girl Scouts in 1973 and she STILL puts it on the tree every year. The peach? Is VELVET.

A peach velvet ornament with pearl accents. See. This is why I did not have kids. I'd have been all, "Yeah. Not on MY tree, Minnie Pearl."

Anyway. Katie followed me around like she was Edsel for many years, until one day we were at the same family gathering and I realized, "Wow. Katie's hot." She was in high school then, and had a boyfriend, and was all pretty, and I realized she didn't worship me any longer. She didn't need to. She had way outcooled me.

Which is why I'm showing you this shot of Katie in her pale mom jeans at my college graduation. Hey, I have on POLKA DOTS. I wasn't much better. But trust me. She was hot.

After I moved away to Seattle and then LA, I would come back for visits and always make sure to see Katie. Once we drove to Ann Arbor for the day, which is where the University of Michigan is and it's a cool town. We had lunch at this outdoor cafe, and it really looked like rain.

"Let's stay out here no matter what the weather does," said Katie. So the poor waiter had to dash out there in the thunder and lightening while we ate under a lightening-rod umbrella, our napkins flying down the street dramatically.

Katie came to visit me in Seattle and one of the rickshaw drivers downtown gave us a free ride through the streets because she was so cute. Four years I lived there and didn't no one offer ME a free ride anywhere. For weeks after she left she was getting calls from boys. She must have given my number out like mints.

I took her to the top of the Space Needle on that visit, and some guy somewhere has a home movie of two curly blondes desperately trying to push their long skirts down as the wind whipped up that needle. Our skirts blew up so high that we both just sat on the ground, finally, in hysterics.

We were up on that needle when we noticed little arrows with letters like E, W, N. "Why on earth did they think they had to point out the mountain?" I groused, noticing the letters MN pointing toward Mt. Rainer. "I mean, we can SEE it. It's a mountain."

It took us about 15 minutes to figure out the letters were NW, and we were looking at them upside-down, and they meant "northwest" and not "mountain." Maybe we have bonded because we're complete idiots.

Katie also visited me in Los Angeles once she was a grownup and married and such.

At one point, we were on the Ferris wheel at the Santa Monica Pier. I forget why we even wondered this, but there we were, up on the Ferris wheel, and we wondered what direction we were facing.

"If we just had some kind of landmark to help us," Katie said.

You guys. We were hovering over the Pacific Ocean.

So now Katie is 34, and the difference in our ages doesn't seem so dramatic. It's like we're old friends and not cousins. She is frugal while I am spendy. She is earthy while I am ethereal. She is handy while I am a mess. She hovers over the Pacific Ocean and has no idea what direction we are facing and I think "NW" means mountain. Together we are quite a pair.

So happy birthday, Katie. I am glad you were born. You are a cousin, you are a confidante, you are a good friend.

And I forgive you for the 9394 smushed Chanel lipsticks.

Katie & me

38 thoughts on “My Cousin Katie (or, June keeps saying she won’t be here and yet here she is again)

  1. Happy Birthday, Katie! Great post, June.
    And you seem to have August 18th free if you’d like to add my birthday too. I’m hoping I receive lots of gifts in mac n’ cheese boxes this year.


  2. I have a new great- nephew in MI who will be sharung a birthday with me and with Katie!


  3. Happy Birthday, Katie and Laurie S in TN. Hope you each had a terrific day. Between family and friends, my August birthday calendar is also quite full.
    Shannon, I know what you mean about not belonging to The Face club. Oh, well.


  4. GG, and MBB was married to David Birney, who I thought was sooooo cute.
    I have tons of original artwork from my kids that goes back on the tree every year. I’ve managed to lose the paper garlands, but if it has a picture of a child on it, or a picture made by a child, or a child’s name on it alongf with a year, it’s staying around forever.


  5. Happy Birthday, Katie. You turned out to be a beautiful woman!
    The peach christmas ornament is awesome. My tree is full of ones equally original from my now-grown-children. I cherish every one.
    Chanel makeup because you’re worth it. Remember the Preference by L’Oreal commercial? “Preference by L’Oreal….because you’re worth it.” This was Meredith Baxter Birney telling us we were worth it, before she realized she was gay. Or at least she wasn’t talking about it. : )


  6. many more Katie! My mother had that polkadot dress too, I think she was at least 60 years old by then….


  7. many more Katie! My mother had that polkadot dress too, I think she was at least 60 years old by then….


  8. many more Katie! My mother had that polkadot dress too, I think she was at least 60 years old by then….


  9. Butter butt!!!! June’s secret nickname is out. Happy birthday, Katie Bird. I’m glad June forgave you for usurping some of the spotlight.
    I hope June is on the non-rainy beach right now getting buried in the sand.


  10. I am seriously loving that teal polka dot dress you’re wearing in the 2nd photo of you and Katie. I would wear that today.
    Anyway, awesome b-day gift! Definitely better than earrings.


  11. Well, I must take credit for Katie, as I gave birth to her at 3:04 PM on August 13, 1977. Plus, I did raise her, so it’s nature and nuture, both provided by me. Love it! Also, Texas Kari, I’m the August 25th birthday you saw on the calendar. Virgos rock! Happy birthday, Katie Bird and thanks for writing such a nice tribute, Butter Butt. Aunt Kathy


  12. Awww, so sweet. This is the best present ever.
    Katie, you are a lucky girl to have grown up with June.
    I also put up the hand-made ornaments from my kids’ time in pre-school. They say they are embarrassed but I know they secretly are glad that I take such good care of them and proudly display them each year.
    Have a great time at the beach. Rainy or not, any day at the beach is better than a day almost anywhere else!


  13. This was THE. BEST. GIFT. Thank you! I much prefer homemade to store bought any day!!
    Can’t wait to see you in a couple of weeks.


  14. Happy Birthday to Katie! I bet your gift to her is the best ever :)And, BTW, I see your calendar is a little empty the week of the 21st, so feel free to write-in my birthday on the 24th 🙂


  15. What a nice birthday gift for Katie! Also, you can pencil in Texas Kari for the 25th along with Aunt Somebody up there.
    Every family’s got funny ornaments AND funny ornament stories. A friend said that her mom use to make them hang their handmade/school ornaments on the back side of the tree facing the front window so that people driving by would enjoy them. My friend said she and her siblings were OLD before they realized their mom had been pulling one over on them for YEARS and they were HACKED!


  16. Happy birthday, Katie. You probably already know how lucky you are to have a friend/cousin like June. We know too.
    Celebrate in a big way, but please don’t buy another pair of Birkenstoks. *smiley face*


  17. I’m gonna stick up for Mother. Let her have the darn homemade ornaments. My favorite ornament is a cardboard Christmas stocking with a photo of my daughter when she was 7 and had no teeth. I still put it on the tree even though she’s 32 now and probably wishes I wouldn’t.
    You’ve given a lovely gift to Katie here June – I bet she remembers this long after any new birthday earrings she receives are misplaced.


  18. 1. Happpy Birthday Katie!!
    G. I have no idea what a snod was.
    XV. “A peach velvet ornament with pearl accents” — Okay that explains Junes love of the Liberace Starfish.


  19. Happy Birthday Katie.
    And why does June hate those of us who don’t do Facebook? It’s like a high school clique….


  20. Aww, what a great tribute to Katie! Way better than earrings! Happy birthday to Katie!


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