'Now how are we related?'


"Cousins'' (mixed media), by ARLENE BANDES, at the Wedeman Gallery at Lasell College, Newton.

In my family, we can figure out our connections to the level of the children of our parents' cousins; beyond that, "family'' disappears into the great swamp of history.

I have often been told, especially on Cape Cod where my father's family has deep connections, that such and such  person walking down the road is a cousin but when I ask how, rarely get a clear answer -- certainly not a clear enough answer to go and introduce myself to the alleged cousin.

Maybe it should be along the lines of a friend of ours from Laurel, Miss., who said, when I asked him if he would like to meet somebody:  "I'm no longer takin' applications.''


-- Robert Whitcomb