The other day I noticed that one of my paternal cousins - one of the ones I rarely see - had set her Facebook status to "engaged". Odd, I thought, that this sort of thing may have happened without anyone telling us first. My maternal cousin called from Paris to tell us that she was engaged, and my mother made a noise like a fire engine.
The cousin in question is one I rarely see because I don't often collude with that side of the family. I don't dislike them - they're just in another city and we don't communicate much. My cousin has had some bad luck with love; namely, she has two young children by a man who eventually left her (she didn't realise that she was pregnant either time - the first time, the doctor had to gently tell her that she was nine months gone and the baby was due in two weeks!). From what I've heard since then, she has been "getting her life back on track"; that is to say, she's managed to find employment, gotten both children into good schools, and according to Facebook the other day, she got engaged.
Which is a weird thing in itself because, as far as I was aware, she didn't even have a boyfriend.
But good for her, I reasoned, because that sort of thing is what Facebook appears to be for, engagements and baby pictures - and I skimmed through a few of the obligatory congratulatory messages before feeling slightly sick and going to ask my parents.
Neither parent was aware that their niece was betrothed, and so we decided to call her parents to ask. No answer, so my mother left a polite but inquiring message on their answerphone, as it is (after all) the sort of thing you'd think we needed to know.
That was a few days ago. Last night I was bustling around in the tiny kitchen, doing something mundane like washing up or eating all the jam to make the voices go away - one of the two - and the word "Thornton's" from the lounge alerted me to the fact that my uncle had called back and was in the process of filling my dad in. I strained my ears to hear what was going on, but since he was only saying things like "mmm", "right", and "yeah", I had no way of knowing.
So I tried a more direct approach.
"Give me the goss, then!" I trilled, bursting into the lounge itself.
"There... there isn't any..." my dad stammered.
I cocked an eyebrow.
There wasn't any goss. Allegedly my cousin isn't engaged and doesn't even have a boyfriend. She has a friend, apparently, who is a boy - somebody to watch football with is the message I got from all this - and after any particularly enjoyable afternoon with him, she is in the habit of setting her status to "engaged", often prompting another cousin - her younger sister - to pick up the 'phone and yell, "TAKE THAT BLOODY STATUS DOWN!"
As you do, you know.
So there. Mystery solved. It's probably a good thing, too... much as I'd appreciate my cousin being happy, I already have four weddings to go to this year.
Surely it's a funeral next.