Thursday, January 10, 2008

Kissing Cousins?

Roots Television has a video by Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak that investigates if the man she married, Brian Smolenyak, was her cousin. Megan's father, George Smolenyak, also appears on the video. Megan introduced this on her blog in the post "Did I Marry My Cousin?" You'll have to watch the video to find out the answer.

The research done to answer the question is impressive and extensive, and well worth viewing the 17 minute video to marvel at the methods and the analytical results.

Megan mentioned "kissing cousin" jokes, which intrigued me a bit. I went looking on Google and Yahoo and found - no actual jokes, just lines from movies or TV shows, or articles talking about kissing cousins. In recent years, there were lots of references about John Kerry and George W. Bush, and Barack Obama and Dick Cheney, not being kissing cousins. The most famous movie is Elvis Presley starring in dual roles, as a soldier and as a hillbilly in the 1964 movie Kissin'Cousins.

The Wiktionary definition of "kissing cousins" is "A relatively distant relative who is familiar enough to be greeted with a kiss. "

I have several "kissing cousins" that fit the definition above. Before 1966, the only cousin I had ever met was my cousin Diana, who came to visit us with her grandparents in 1959 when she was 12 (I was 15 at the time, and very shy). Needless to say, we weren't kissing cousins then...but we are now.

In 1966, I went to Massachusetts for a convention and stayed with my Aunt Gerry in Newton and we journeyed west to Leominster and I finally got to meet my Uncle Ed and his family, including his daughter Joanie. Immediately, everybody there goaded us into a hug and a kiss (a peck on the cheek as I recall), which embarrassed me no end (now being 22 and still very shy). Joanie came to live with my parents for a while in San Diego, and over the years we got to know each other pretty well and have turned into kissing cousins - the last time was on the beach in Maui in August.

I have other kissing cousins - the 5 female cousins in my generation and the 8 in the next generation - the kids of my generation (like Diana), with whom I've become close. We always have a wonderful time together laughing, sharing and doing things together. We know that we share not only ancestry and heritage, but we share a love and appreciation for our elders, their hard work and success.

And then there are all the women that I hug and kiss even if I don't know if they are related to me - my daughter's in-law families, long-time friends, church members, etc. I consider them kissing cousins too, since we are all part of a very large family of human beings.

Heard any kissing cousins jokes? If so, please tell me. Tell us about your favorite kissing cousin, or family experience with kissing cousins.

And watch Megan's video to get insight on having DNA testing done. It's very well done, nicely sentimental, and fun to watch. I even feel like Megan is my cousin since I've seen her on RootsTV so often!

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