Kissin' Cousins (a Purimschpiel)
by "The Enduring Man-Child"
All standard disclaimers apply.
Thanks to cpneb for the beta.
This is a Purimschpiel. Although the holiday itself is not mentioned, it contains many of the Purim themes: irony, role reversal, and masks (not literal masks, but figurative ones). Please enjoy!
This story is dedicated to all the homely, geeky boys who have no Kim (that's all of us, right?).
Kim had been trying to develop a greater appreciation for her cousin Larry.
True, they still had practically nothing in common, and his social skills were still all but non-existent (he seemed particularly slow in getting the idea that one should occasionally talk about the other person's interests), but he was still her cousin and she had not forgotten how he had saved her from Dementor. Plus, she was hoping that his budding relationship with Charlotte would help him to grow in those areas where he was lacking. And as for Larry, he was gaining a whole new appreciation for the "real world" (thanks to the same aforementioned Charlotte).
So it was that one day when Ron was busy with Hana and she had nothing else to do, she decided to contact her cousin and spend some time with him. They met at the comic book store (of course), spent some time at the museum, and finally (since Larry wasn't a big fan of Bueno Nacho) made their way to Cow 'n Chow for lunch. As they sat opposite each other eating their order Kim realized that even the qualities that had formerly driven her to distraction were less irritating when she recalled that these contributed to who he was as a person and had been essential to her rescue. And, to be fair, Larry was at least making an effort to show some interest in her activities. He still had a long way to go on the socialization scale, but "the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." Kim smiled as she had the thought.
Now it just so happened that Larry was facing the outside window and Kim was facing the counter. Granted, Larry was droning on about something weird and not really paying attention to his surroundings, but Kim apparently was, for in the midst of nodding at Larry and trying (yes, she really was trying) to work up an interest in whatever-it-was he was talking about her eyes suddenly grew large and gazed in horror at something behind Larry, after which her face turned red and she dropped her head and covered her eyes in...what was this...shame?
"Cousin, what's wrong?" Larry asked, genuinely concerned. He wasn't that into Kim's adventures but he knew about them and realized that anything that could provoke such a reaction in her must be formidable indeed.
"It's those kids behind the counter," Kim said in a low voice. "No—don't look! They're already pretending they weren't watching us," she added after taking a furtive peek between her fingers.
"What did they do?" Larry asked.
"Like I said, they were watching us," she answered.
"Is there anything wrong with that?" Larry wanted to know. It certainly didn't seem to him to warrant the reaction she had given. "After all, you're a celebrity."
"It's not that," Kim said. And Larry actually thought he heard her sniffle softly.
"What is it, then?" he asked. "Do you want to leave? Or maybe I'll just go up and have a talk with them."
"No! No; don't do that. It's not their fault," Kim observed sadly.
"Kim, just what's the matter?" Larry wanted to know.
"I know what they were saying," she said.
Larry turned his head a bit until Kim grabbed his arm. She had quite a grip!
"Well, you must have super hearing, Cuz, because I..."
"No!" Kim said as loud as she could in a whisper. "I don't have to hear them to know what they're saying."
Larry just stared at his cousin. "I'm afraid I don't understand what this is all about," he admitted.
"No. No, you don't," she told him, "and that's what's so wonderful about you, Larry. Don't ever change...please."
"Kim...do you want to tell me what this is all about?"
"I'm...ashamed," Kim admitted.
"Ashamed?" Larry asked. "Why? What's going on? I don't understand..."
"Larry..." Kim hesitated. "Think about it just a minute. Ron and I don't ever come here, so they don't know us. Those kids...they see you and me here eating together. They don't know we're cousins..."
Larry just continued to stare at her. "So...?"
Kim rolled her eyes. He was dense.
"Larry...they were...they were..."
"Oh! You mean they think we're on a date! Well, I'll just correct that little bit of misinformation..."
"No! Don't do that!" Kim said, her emotionalism surprising him. "You still don't get it, do you? Larry, they're looking at you...and at me...and they're saying 'what in the world is he doing with her?' Now do you understand?"
The look on Larry's face showed that he finally did. And it broke Kim's heart. Larry may have been naïve, but there were ways in which naivete was to be preferred to the way the "real world" worked. Now Larry understood that some pimple-faced kids were judging him and his cousin solely by their looks, and they had judged him unworthy of her company. His eyes dropped as well. She took his hand.
"Larry, I'm so sorry! Believe me, I resent it too! I've been through this a thousand times with Ron, and...and...what's worse, I had to learn this lesson the hard way, and I still feel so guilty about the way I ignored Ron and drooled over all the 'hotties' I didn't even know. And that's why when I saw them pointing at us and whispering among themselves...I felt so bad. Please forgive me, Larry!"
Suddenly Larry, as unfamiliar with the "real world" as he was, understood that this experience was actually harder on his cousin than on him. True, he had felt small and inadequate when he actually figured it out, but Kim was actually feeling at fault, which was far worse. Not knowing what to say, he took her hand and hoped that he could convey comfort non-verbally.
Then suddenly his countenance changed. From a mixture of shame, inadequacy, guilt, and pity...Larry's face went to an expression that was downright sinister. An evil thought had come into his head.
"Cousin...Kim...listen to me!" he whispered conspiratorially. Kim took a napkin from the dispenser to wipe her eyes and looked at him.
"You said they don't know us here, right? So, if that's what they think about us, why don't we put on a little show? You know, give 'em what they're looking for!"
"Wha—what do you mean?"
"Well, they're probably waiting for you to cruelly break my heart in thirty-four pieces. Let's not disappoint them!"
Kim's reaction was one of horror. "No, Larry! I couldn't do that! That would just confirm the stereotype that's haunted me for so long!" Then Kim's visage became even more sinister than his.
"But you know, you're partly right. We should give them a show! Only not the one you suggested. I have a better idea!"
The one boy and two girls behind the counter didn't have too many customers to wait on so they couldn't help but constantly steal glances at the couple-that-shouldn't-be, always as carefully as possible, and always prepared to look like they had been doing anything but. But this carefulness went out the window when the girl they'd been watching suddenly began crying loudly in a way that should have been most embarrassing.
"You—you cruel man!" she shouted amidst sobs to the bespectacled figure sitting across from her. "It's true what they say about you! My girlfriends all warned me, but I wouldn't listen!"
"I know," the boy replied in a voice that dripped arrogance and condescension. "You couldn't help yourself. None of them can."
"I should have known it was too good to be true! A guy like you would never choose a girl like me! And yet...and yet I flew right into the flame!"
"Don't feel too bad, Baby. You're far from the first one to have her wings singed by the fire of my irresistible charms, and you won't be the last, either."
"And to think I went into this relationship after watching all my friends have their lives wrecked by you! Sarah, and Melanie, and Kay, and Delia, and Marcie, and Betty Lou, and Debbie Lynn, and Sandra, and Christine, and..."
"But you watched them crash and burn and still thought you'd be different! They all do. They all think they'll be the exception. But they never are." The boy blew on his nails nonchalantly. "Face it, Dollface. You're just another notch on my class 1-A wizard's staff."
"Have you no conscience at all? Do you have no feeling whatsoever by the untold numbers of lives that have been destroyed by your seductive powers?"
"Sorry, but you don't need a conscience when you've got a bod like this, Sweet Cheeks!" he smiled.
"I'll...I'll tell everyone!" she said. "I'll make sure no other poor girl falls for your evil charms only to be discarded!"
"Yeah; like that'll do any good!" the boy said, rolling his eyes. "After all, just think how useful all your friends' warnings were to you!"
The girl looked at him for a moment. Then she broke out in a wailing bawl that shook the building. The teenage wage slaves didn't even bother to conceal their staring now.
After some minutes of this loud crying while the heartless Lothario looked on his handiwork with satisfaction the girl began to sniffle, and finally to quiet down. Then she looked at the boy with what seemed to be a desperate expression of hope.
"But please," she said, "even though you have broken my heart and discarded me, please tell me that there really was something there that you didn't have with any other girl?"
The boy thought for a moment. "Well, I'll tell you this much," he said at last, "of all the uncounted hapless victims I have encountered and then left behind utterly shattered, their lives reduced to nothing but misery from which they will never recover, you just might possibly be the one for whom I have the least contempt."
The girl's eyes shone with joy. "Really?" she squealed.
Cruel eyes squinted at her while a mouth formed the most heartless smirk ever seen. "Psych!" he crowed. "Er...what was your name, again?"
That did it. The girl let go with another tortured wail and ran out of the cheap eating joint, rubbing her eyes all the while.
The boy and two girls behind the counter could not believe what they had just seen. After a while the boy left behind slowly stood from his seat, took his and the girl's trays, deposited them in the designated receptacles, took a clean napkin, wiped his hands, and walked back up to the counter. Retrieving a comb with which he styled his hair to his satisfaction, he then leaned against the counter and fixed the two girls with a rakish look.