Cousin Larry, plainly put, is that relative who is a total chump. A complete boob, sap or sucker. The dolt. The guy with whom you wouldn’t associate under any circumstance, if not for the fact that the same blood runs through both your veins (or if it wasn’t in the family bylaws). He’s the chump who gets too drunk at your sister’s wedding, slurring his speech and catapulting truth bombs into the crowd (cue Steve Buscemi in The Wedding Singer). The guy whose gut overhangs his belt just a little more than is copasetic; who lingers too long on a punch line, cresting a joke past funny into awkward. The guy who should work to go unnoticed, but instead ends up the center of a (now) deteriorating good time.
And in the academy of life, Cousin Larry has graduated to ‘no relation’ at all – he or she is simply the ‘chump of the moment’, the ‘regular chump’ of your acquaintance… or you. Oh yeah, we all scramble not to be Cousin Larry, but don’t kid yourself Bucko. Nobody is chump exempt.
By day, for the mo, I work in an office. My floor is pretty large, a sea of 60-70 desks, all populated with office stiffs. In the center, to the side, lies a kitchen alcove – visible to all. Enter Humphrey Bogart, stage left.
“It all began with a mug, see. A dirty mug. A real dirty mug, the kind that parents talk about in horror stories to their unborn child. Turns out, I was the mug. The biggest mug of them all”.
Look, I was just dropping off a cup at the sink, okay? A fairly innocuous action. But in an attempt to be efficient, one could say that I was travelling like a Thunderbird on hyperdrive – jerky, supersonic and not entirely right. With g-force and in the foulest of swoops, I swept my mug across the counter, wiping out with stunning accuracy something made of glass. I’ll never know what because, much like Humpty Dumpty, it could never be put back together again. Where Samuel L. Jackson may reign down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger, my wrath was dealt in shards of glass – it went e v e r y w h e r e.
The sound of the murder leapt clear across the room, past the windows, echoing into the beyond. Every single face turned in poetic unison, to stare. At me.
à la, The Blob… “Run! Don’t walk from… Cousin Larry!”
Good times. Should I also mention that I’m new to this company, and have only been in the job a week? So much for dipping my toes and entering gradually! I had just cannon-bombed, Larry style, soaking everyone within a five-mile radius. New Girl is a chump.
Good Ole Lazza, he’s the fat kid nobody wants to play with. If you’re forced to, he’s good for being the butt of your jokes, the easy scapegoat who takes it; the one you tell yourself you’re nothing like. He visually verbalises that which you don’t want to look at – vulnerability. And he’s an example of what happens under pack mentality – vulnerability equals weakness which, under lion rule, means you get eaten.
So it follows that we will do our level best not to be a Larry, or even have a Lazza moment. (Back away slowly, don’t anybody move.) But isn’t this a case of denial, en mass? What is it we hide most jealously, that which we guard shamefully? It’s our Larry, people! The habits we dare not look at. Those addictions we continually cave to, no matter how hard we try to eradicate them. Our humanity.
We believe that if no-one witnesses the ugly Larry we make love to in the dark, then it’s not truly a part of who we are. Certainly not of who we present ourselves to be. But the truth of the Larry is, there’s no such thing as private humanity. We don our habits every day, along with the hairstyle, clothes and persona we use to camouflage them. Much like the gut which hangs over Larry’s tightly belted stumps, some things just can’t be hidden.
You may think you have everyone fooled, that the food you eat alone is private… that the guilt you carry is unseen. But give it up baby, it’s over. Cousin Larry has loose lips. You wear these truths around your middle, in the slump of your shoulders, in your wrinkles, in the poor condition of your hair. As Lazza is your witness, if you have unhealthy habits, they’re there for all to see. Regardless of clothes, gold or riches, it’s the Larry we hide which makes us seem unattractive to the outside world and, what we’re judged upon. We might chase the external dream but, unless you’re a leprechaun, there’s no getting to the end of that rainbow.
Does it help to know that if you have good habits, you’re often judged for those too? You will appear attractive and as though you have your shit together, which can be a red flag to the person who doesn’t.
But don’t lock the door and assume the foetal position just yet. I reckon this simplifies matters some, everybody just stay calm. It could be that the very clandestine nature of these addictions, hidden most of all from ourselves, is the fuel which they run on. So Oprah talks about her Larry, and everyone on the show gives Dr Phil a peek. But it aint the verbalising of Larry to others which make the shadows go away. In this stand-off, there should be no-one else in the room. It aint Thunder Road and no, you don’t get a Second.
Look to Cousin Larry in his eyeball and invite him to join the party.
The most liberating moment comes when we give up and instead, own it. Whatever it is, however many you have. Pick the biggest one and work your way down. Unflinchingly, as Cousin Larry has a tendency to buck. If he throws you, start again.
In truth, for me, the most attractive people are the openly Larry. The people who are honest about who they are, ugly ‘n’all. The evolved Cousin Larry isn’t trying to eradicate the shadows, but includes them to give a well-balanced sketch of who they are. No, you can’t fake it, so don’t even try. Who am I talking about? Would you believe, Mickey Rourke? Oh yeah baby. He’s a train wreck, to be sure. But an honest one. I respect that a damn sight more than a train that has never jumped a track.
So go forth and make friends with your Larry, if you’ll pardon the expression.