0

McCULLOUGH: Cousin courageous

Nate McCullough

Nate McCullough

On Saturday, my cousin Allison will jump off a perfectly good, dry platform into a tank filled with sharks, giant manta rays and all sorts of other critters.

I will not be jumping in with her.

I will be watching through the glass though when she dives into the Georgia Aquarium on Saturday morning.

Allison received her certification this year and has already sent me pictures of one of her diving trips. (She indulges my anti-social media stance by e-mailing to me photos that everyone else just looks at on Facebook.) Allison is an adventurer, having also jumped out of a perfectly good airplane at one time, so it only makes sense that she would jump into the world's largest aquarium with the world's largest sharks, sawfish, stingrays and whatever other crazy sea creatures are in there.

In fact, Allison is sort of like a female version of that most interesting man in the world in those beer commercials. She's a diver, parachutist, rabid Alabama fan, and I'll bet she can outshoot most of the men reading this.

She would likely dispute the previous description, as low-key and laid back are also phrases that aptly describe my cousin from Mississippi. I know she loves simple pleasures as much as wild adventures, but to me, she's Indiana Jones.

Allison wasn't always that way though. I'm about 15 years older than her and can remember when she was a little-bitty baby. I must've been pretty scary when she was little because she wouldn't have anything to do with me for a lot of years.

She hid behind her mama. She hid behind furniture. She hid in other rooms. I wasn't sure she could talk until she was a teenager. This girl, who on Saturday will dive into a manmade equivalent of the deep sea with all sorts of dangerous things, was apparently scared silly of me.

I can't understand why. Just look at my picture up there under the headline. Big Ol' Teddy Bear.

But not to Allison. At least not for a long time.

I have to say it bothered me, too. No one wants to be known as someone who frightens children.

But then, somewhere along the line, the super-shy little girl warmed up to me. By the time she was in college at Mississippi State she was sharing e-mails with me regularly, and sometime in the past few years at a family function she introduced me to a friend as her favorite cousin. And I couldn't have been happier.

I had gone from dark nemesis to top dog. I guess when you've jumped out of airplanes and into shark tanks, a newspaper columnist is a relatively minor threat.

Allison has obviously conquered her fears. Now if we could just do something about that Crimson Tide problem.

E-mail Nate McCullough at nate.mccullough@gwinnettdailypost.com. His column appears on Fridays.