Archive for November, 2012

Movie Still #2 from Home Movies

Dennis our cousin. Not many of us remember him nor does he probably not remember us. There was a time, though, when he sat soaking wet from the pool on a lawn chair in our backyard shivering under a towel.
My early memories of Dennis is that he was always internally and externally rebellious. I can still hear his mother’s high-pitched cry- “DENIIIIIIIIISE ” Because it seemed he was always crossing that discipline line that every parent draws for their kids. Although his brother Robert disagrees with me, Dennis WAS THE ONE in the driver seat when the brake was released in our driveway. The car was filled with all of us waiting for Aunt Gerry to come out and drive us away somewhere. The car rolled down the driveway in slow motion and for whatever reason we all decided that the best thing to do would be to bail out of the moving car.
The panic that ensued during the bail-out would have been a viral YouTube video had we taped it back then. Our sister Beverly got seriously hurt because when she jumped out of the car, she hit the white picket fence that surrounded Whitman street back then.
My other perfect memory of this “tragedy” was the aftermath. All of us, shocked and yelled at, hanging out in the open garage. The Doors were playing the condensed version of “Light My Fire” on the AM radio. Beverly was still in great pain and moaning in the corner. It was suggested that maybe her arm might be broken. This turned out to be false but the deep bruise that developed in the next few days was quite a colorful sight.
The last time I saw Dennis was the Summer of 1975 when Aunt Gerry had me shipped over to “watch” Dennis while she worked. As it turned out, Dennis who was several years younger than me, actually ended up WATCHING ME. We listened to Elton Johns Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy over and over again. In our boredom we had created some stupid baseball game that involved throwing dice. Dennis frequently wandered away and hung out with this gang that scared me. So our separation as friends and cousins was painless and quick.
I saw the first Jaws with Dennis in a movie theater in LA, went to the Ponderosa ranch, Disneyland and met uncle Bill in Long Beach. Somehow we ended up at Lake Tahoe and then the very long scenic drive back to California that seemed to take forever.
As the years rolled into decades, I’ve often wondered whatever happened to my cousin Dennis the Menace. Like all of us, he is a survivor. His inspiring story now known.


Cousin Dennis

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