Milkshakes & Memories

On the 2nd of June, I drove up to Secaucus, New Jersey, parked in the hot parking lot, and headed on over to the train station. I felt rather proud of my confidence as I purchased my round trip ticket to Penn Station, stood with the rest of the people waiting for the train, and boarded. When my purse got stuck in the closing door, I began to question my confidence and wondered, for the merest second, if the day was going to go downhill. Seemed silly to think so, especially with the day’s plan.

Despite the fact it was stinking hot out, the day did not go downhill. It went gloriously up in a trio of hours spent with cousins—female cousins who have been like sisters to me, and cousin to a cousin whom I hadn’t seen in forty-five years, an in-law-ish cousin (well, married to the brother of the cousin to the cousin…are you following that yet?), and one cousin’s granddaughter and another’s stepdaughter, at a wonderful brunch at a popular little restaurant in Manhattan called The Black Tap. The Black Tap is apparently famous for its milkshakes. Huge confections of ice cream, candy, brownies, cookies, sugary sweet cereal—whatever they can cram on top of the shake to make it unique, a kind of double-decker dessert. I’d like to say delicious, too, but I didn’t actually have one, as I opted for a plain ol’ chocolate shake. I guess I’m the non-adventurous type when it comes to my ice cream. Everyone who got one of the gigantic, coma-inducing shakes exclaimed over them. My chocolate shake was scrumptious enough on its own, even without all the added baked goods and candy.

The food was delicious as well, although no one finished their meals. You see, we had to get the shakes first, because this place is so well known and the shakes in such high demand, if we didn’t order (and receive) them before our meals, we might never have had the chance to get one (or something like that—it sort of made sense when we were told of the gastronomic pecking order). At any rate, it wasn’t the food or the shakes that made the day so special. It was the company.

Some of the female cousins and both my sisters-in-law were, lamentably, absent. But those of us who managed to get together had a lot of catching up to do. The noise in the restaurant sometimes made it difficult to hear, but expressions of amusement, happiness, astonishment, the occasional tear, made every conversational nuance easy to read. It was like lip-reading from the heart.

The conclusion of brunch came all too soon and we headed outside to go our separate ways. Even so, we spent another fifteen minutes airing our laundry in front of the crowd continuing to queue up to get into The Black Tap. Adding all our ages together, we go back to the Revolutionary War and beyond, which gives us a few bragging rights on this earth.

One cuz summed it all up as she and her cousins and granddaughter started their march down the block. “Cousins,” she cried out, with something suspiciously like a fist-pump, “are the best!”