April 17, 2018
The Dark Side of Pork Ribs
“Alex,” I say, chewing on a pork rib, the grease dripping down my hands. I love pork ribs, however, am highly against eating pork. “Last night’s episode of My Big Fat gypsy Wedding was fucking intense. It's usually not my show, but this one,” taking another bite, "this one demanded my attention."
He sits down at the table, grabbing a rib, taking a bite of the meat, “really? You didn’t look that excited," licking his lips, "holy fuck, these are good ribs."
"You fucking nailed it," taking another bite. "I saw you on the couch, you looked half dead.”
“No, no, it was just a mask. I was in it, deep in it.”
“Yeah. It was insane," letting the rib dangle from my ribs, "so this chick is gonna get married, "
“Okay,” taking another bite from his pork rib, "I like it already."
“But here’s the thing,”
“What’s the thing.”
“She’s in love with her cousin.”
"I see how this could be a problem," he says as I nod my head, chewing on the rib bone intensely.
His eyes widened momentarily after a deep thought before soothing his emotional spike with another bite of pork rib, “what cousin is he?”
“Well, I don’t know but no more than the fourth cousin. But from the looks of it, maybe third.” He nods his head, staring at the rib bone in his hand.
“It’s illegal to marry anyone closer than your third cousin, right? Like, won't the babies be fucked up?”
“I don't know, half of our cousins married each other, they turned out to be fine. I mean, they're all criminals but --
"Tash, our cousins kept a tv in a tree, held by chicken wire...it's fucking hick."
"You know, most people would be ashamed of that, but I'm actually impressed with their creativity."
Alex looks at me for a moment. "Okay, so let's say they're third cousins."
Grabbing another rib, "yeah, I think that's a solid guess. Okay, so third cousins, in love with each other, got it?”
"Third cousins, in love. Got it."
"Okay, so," forgetting where I left off, "third cousins in love with each other. So, she goes to the park to meet her cousin and basically tells him that she can’t be with him and that she’s going to marry her fiance, who, may I add,"
"Thank you, is a complete loser. So, she comes back home and her fiance is on the couch, he like has no teeth and has that dropped down jaw look, you know what I mean? A little Deliverance looking. Anyways, he has that thick hick accent and he's like," clearing my throat, "where the fuck you been woman, you say you gon' to talk to your cousin for fifteen minutes and you gon' for two hours. How the fuck you think I feel when I know he's in love you? I'm sittin' here like a damn fool."
My brother licks one of his fingers, “he has a point.”
“He does, he ain't wrong. Anyways, so when she's at the park, she tells her cousin,” preparing my southern accent, “I’m sorry, I can’t marry you, we just can't, we cousins.” And of course, her cousin is heartbroken, just fucking ruined but they're cousins, he just has to understand that, as she said. Then she goes on, which I'm not sure why someone would say this, but she's like, "I told fiance that I don't love you anymore and he said, good you're my woman."
"Why would she say that? That's weird."
"Right? But then again, she's talking to her cousin that she's in love with, so what's weird, really? Ya know?"
We both spend a moment in silence, reflecting.
I pull myself together and continue on, "So, flash forward to the wedding, she’s walking down the aisle, her fucking cousin is in the first row staring at them with beady eyes, like the camera blurred out the faces of the couple-to-be and zoomed into the cousin whose face is like in between there faces," I describe with supportive gesticulation, "you get what I mean, right?"
"Yeah, you could only see his face during the vows."
"Yeah, basically. It was intense. And get this, her fiance is completely wasted. Like he’s swaying and slurring through the entire vows and she’s literally mouthing, “you’re a piece of shit” to him and his eyes are halfway shut and he’s just laughing. It was great. But you = feel bad cause she has this wedding dress on and I mean, she doesn't look great but it's her fucking day."
"It is her day."
"Anyways, she’s pissed, she doesn’t want to kiss him after the I dos. Which, I don't blame her. And now they’re cutting the cake and he’s literally just eating it with his hands, giggling, and she like takes the cake," chucking my grease-filled hand into the air, "and throws it on his face and runs away while he’s standing there slurring, “I dun give a fuck” and eating chunks of cake from his face.”
“Well, he did pay for it.”
“That’s true." I say nodding, "I never looked at it in that way, it was economical of him to eat the cake on his face. So anyway, she’s crying...kinda crying more like mopping in the corner and her cousin comes up and asks to her talk to her in another room. So in the other room, he's going off talking about how he can’t let her marry this guy, the camera flashes to her now-husband eating his face cake, then it goes back to them and he says let's just get out of here... and you know, he ain't wrong. So he takes her hand and just they leave the wedding."
"They just leave, just like that."
"Yeah, just like that."
"My man. What happens to them?"
"They end up together and move closer to her...wait..." pondering for a moment, "their family? I’m not really sure about the family tree. Point is, they most closer to the family because her ex-husband took her away from them."
He nods his head, pleased with the end result, "Now, do you want to hear an actual fucked up story?"
I take a rib, grabbing the meat off of it with my teeth, “yeah,” chewing ferociously.
"Okay so remember my old soccer coach, Vlada?"
"Yeah, what about him?"
“So, like twenty, maybe twenty-five years ago he was playing for this football club, FK Obilić, which was a great team, they even won the Yugoslav league championship, anyways, Arkan took over the second league that Vlada was playing in.”
Historical filler: You may be wondering, who’s Arkan? It’s a good question to ask because unless you have a friend from the Balkans or accidentally sit next to a drunk Serb, Croat or Bosnian on the bus, you’ll have no idea who he is. Arkan, in the simplest of terms, was a career criminal and was indicted by the UN for crimes against humanity with his participation in the wars. He made it on Interpol’s list of most wanted in the 70s and 80s, which isn’t an easy thing to achieve. He was, hands down, during that time, one of the most powerful criminals in the Balkans. But in 2000, he was assassinated and died in the arms of his wife, the most popular pop-folk singer in the Balkans, Ceca. She was later was arrested for embezzlement through Arkan’s football club, FK Obilić. She spent eight months under house arrest and created a number one hit album in her basement during that time. In other words, these are fucking hard people that you don't want to piss off. Now, back to the story.
"And Vlada gets called up to the main office, so he goes up and he sees Arkan sitting at the desk smoking with like twenty giant meatheads sitting around just smoking and playing cards."
"They're his security?"
"Yeah. So, Arkan tells him to come in, he puts his cigarette down and is like, “so I heard you’re new on the team, I hear you’re quite the player” and they chit chat for a bit, bullshitting and whatever and then Arkan says, “well, hopefully, you do well on the team," and stand up to go to shake Vlada's hand. Vlada put his hand out to shake Arkans and they shake hands but just when Arkan is about to let go, he sees a bracelet on Vlada's wrist. And he turns Vlada's wrist over, taking another look at the bracelet. And Arkan says, "I've seen this bracelet before." And Vlada says, "yeah, my girl gave it to me." But his girl was Muslim from Bosnia. Like fucking Arkan killed Muslims and shit, that's what he did in the war and you're wearing a Muslim bracelet like that's a fucking mistake but he didn't realize it. And Arkan keeps looking at the bracelet says, "put your hand on the table."
"Holy shit," as I slowly chew on the rib with widened eyes.
“Yeah, holy shit is right. And Vlada is trying to keep cool but he’s fucking freaking out and he’s like what? And Akran, with a completely blank face, says, "I said put your fucking hand on the table.” Vlada isn't going to argue with a fucking warlord so he puts his hand on the table. And Arkan, this fucking guy, pulls out a machete from under his desk. And Vlada is like literally pissing his pants, he’s begging Arkan not to do it like he’s fucking begging. And Arkan is telling him to shut the fuck up with a completely blank face, like not an ounce of emotion from this guy. He raises the machete, the fucking machete Natasha, raises it in the fucking air, brings it down, snips the bracelet off gently, and tells him that if he wears anything like that ever again, he’ll cut his fucking hand off.”
I can feel the subtle spring breeze brushing against the hairs on my arm.
“I think they won the championships league that year, I’m not sure,” dropping the chewed up rib onto his plate, grabbing another.
I rub my forehead with the back of my palm, “somehow marry your cousin doesn’t seem so bad. Like, it’s just easier.”