Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A Little Story For My Sister

This afternoon I went to my sister's work and sat at her bar for lunch. Afterwards, she expressed how happy she was that I did that. And I was happy too. She works two jobs and it seems like she never has a day off. She also goes to school and manages to fit in time at the gym in between shifts. She has a tremendous amount of discipline to be able to do something like that, because if it were me, I'd probably be trying to fit in a nap or something, not a damned Urban Rebounding class, whatever that is (she says it involves a trampoline). She deserves a lot of credit and maybe sometimes she doesn't get the credit she deserves.

I wanted to share with you one of my favorite stories from when we were little (there are many, let me tell you).

My sister came to live with us at about the same time as Tammy. Refer back to the Tammy story. You see, my sister is my grandfather's daughter. Although she is eight years younger than me, my sister is actually my half aunt, or my mother's half sister. We call each other "sister" because we were raised that way, because that's how we feel about one another, and because it's much easier than explaining the whole elaborate, convoluted family tree to people we've just met, as that tends to frighten them and make them back away slowly.

When my sister came to New York from Millpond to live with us, I was pretty happy. I liked playing with her and she sort of kept me company in spite of the fact that I was a pre-teen and she was a toddler. She was impossibly cute with a round face, slight lisp and big, dark blue-grey eyes. At first she suffered an unfortunate bowl cut. She had the same, fine, straight blonde hair that she does now and my grandfather, not knowing what sorts of haircuts are becoming to little girls, simply gave her the same haircut he'd give a little boy. My mom fixed that pretty quickly. She was at the peak of her perm mania back then and had just subjected me to the spiral permed, spiked mullet which ruined my social life for several years. My mother was perm crazy, so she actually gave my four year old little sister a perm. I'm actually surprised my mom didn't try to perm the dog and cat too. The woman loved curls. Luckily for my sister, the perm, in spite of its being reprehensible in a kind of Todders and Tiaras kind of way, looked a lot better than the bowl cut. It actually made her even cuter. Now everyone said she looked exactly like Shirley Temple. She really didn't, but for the past seventy years Shirley Temple has been the go-to look-alike for people who can't think of any other cute kid to compare another cute kid to.

She was cute though, my sister. Total strangers would stop us on the street and gasp over her cuteness. Of course they weren't doing this to me. In seventh grade I was probably at my most awkward. The mullet didn't help. I was gangly skinny, slouched and had a big nose and a bad overbite. I didn't yet have braces. They'd come on the day the Challenger exploded. My sallow complexion made me look like I was perpetually on the verge of coming down with something and friends and family were always pulling my mother aside and whispering concerns about anorexia. I remember living in utter terror of anorexia. I had read an article in "Seventeen" about it, completely misunderstanding what anorexia was and believing that it was some kind of disease that you caught which caused you to waste away. I swore I had it. It kept me up at nights. I used to pray to God before I went to bed at night to please make me pretty and also to please make sure I didn't catch anorexia.

I became very concerned about my appearance and constant compliments directed at my sister caused me to obsess over my own ugliness. In my head she was the pretty one and I was the ugly one. Pretty was good. Ugly was bad. I was ugly and bad. No one liked me. It all made sense and as much as I loved my newly acquired sister-aunt (which sounds straight out of Polygamist cult jargon) I was jealous of her too.

My little sister though, was not as innocent as she seemed, and as everyone believed.

"What a sweet, darling child," people would coo.

"An angel," my mother would agree.

One day my mother came home and found a series of unusual black markings on the hallway wall which were accented by red ink stamps that said "PAID." My father had a stamp like this in his desk.

"WHO DID THIS????" she roared.

My sister and I were both silent.

"I can't believe you damned kids. We rent this house. You know better than this!! Now we won't get our deposit back. Jesus Christ!!! Which one of you did this???"

Innocently, my sister pointed at me.

"She did."

"You did this? God dammit. How old are you? You're twelve years old! Have you lost your mind?? Why would you -"

"I didn't do it!!" I protested.

Because I didn't. I read "Seventeen" for God's sakes and harbored a passion for Ricky Schroder which was about to be replaced for an enduring love of Andrew McCarthy. I wore Bonne Bell lipgloss and misted myself with Love's Baby Soft perfume. I was practically a grown woman and I was above such nonsense as writing on walls. I was insulted.

"Don't you lie to me."

She turned and asked my sister one more time who did it and my sister solemnly pointed at me and said I did it.

And then my mother lost it and actually spanked me. I could not believe it. I screamed and yelled and pled my case all through the spanking, which I think was the only actual "spanking" my mother ever gave me. It was humiliating. She was treating me like a child. I was falsely accused and this was bullshit and I was leaving. I stormed out the front door and stalked off down the street.

While I was running away my mother again questioned my sister. Although I wasn't there for this part of the story, I've heard it about three hundred times, so this is what happened.

My mother started to feel guilty. It didn't make sense. I was far too old to write on walls. My sister was ripe wall writing age. But could a tiny, innocent, darling child come up with a lie like that? My mother couldn't imagine, especially because my sister was unusually well behaved all the time.

"Look," my mother said to my sister, "Your older sister has run away because I spanked her for writing on the walls. I spanked her because you said she did it, so if she never comes home, it's because you told a lie and lying is very bad. So, did she really write on the walls?"

"No," my sister said.

"Oh really? Who wrote on the walls then?"

"Mickey Mouse."

"Excuse me?"

"Mickey Mouse wrote on the walls?"

My sister nodded.

"So you're telling me that while I was gone, that Mickey Mouse came into this house, wrote on the walls and then left?"

"Yes, but he didn't leave."

"You mean to tell me that Mickey Mouse is still here?"

My sister nodded again.

"Well you're going to show me where he is because I'm going to tear his behind up for writing on these walls because WE DO NOT WRITE ON WALLS."

"You're going to spank Mickey Mouse?"


My sister led my mother into the den where Mickey Mouse slumped on our sofa, apparently exhausted from his wall writing frenzy. She pointed.


Mickey Mouse was in fact, really on our sofa, except it was my sister's favorite Mickey Mouse doll. He had a plastic head, hands and feet with a plush body. She carried him around everywhere.

"He did it?" my mother asked.

"Mmm Hmm."

"How exactly did your Mickey Mouse doll write on the wall?"

My sister then proceeded to demonstrate. Mickey Mouse had big, black plastic ears. When rubbed against a hard surface, like a wall, the black on his ears would rub off. You could write with Mickey Mouse's ears.

"See," my sister repeated, "Mickey Mouse did it."

I guess this was the opposite logic of "guns don't kill people, people kill people." Children don't write on walls, Mickey Mouses write on walls!

My sister believed herself innocent of wall writing because in her mind, technically she hadn't made the marks, Mickey Mouse had. That bastard.

"You are in big trouble Young Lady," my mother told her.

Not only had she written on the walls, she had told a lie that caused me to get spanked and had attempted to get herself off on a technicality. This was some complicated conniving for one so young. My mother first took Mickey Mouse away. Because Mickey Mouse was so naughty and could not refrain from wall writing, he had to stay in the closet for a week until he could behave himself. Then my sister got a spanking and had to stay with Tammy (God help her, the spanking was preferable) while my mother went to find me.

I hadn't made it very far. I was only about three blocks up the street, but I'll never forget my mother pulling up in the car and apologizing.

"Please get in the car. I'm so sorry," she said.

"I don't know."

"Come on."

"You spanked me. You believed that I would write on walls."

"I'm so sorry. But if you get in the car I'll drive straight to Friendly's."

And she did. We shared a Reese's Cup Sundae and cursed Mickey Mouse.

I can't stand him to this day.

My sister probably doesn't remember this story, but it cracks me up every time my mother retells it.


MtnMama said...

Oh, once again, I see that we have lived somewhat parallel lives. Kind of freaky, really... but your sister turned out better than mine, apparently.

Dayna said...

Please don't miss out on this opportunity.
This is the kind of story that you need to hold over your mother and sister/half aunt's head for the rest of your life.
Any time you need or want something just say remember when....

Anonymous said...

How did Micky stamp 'Paid' on the walls? Or, in toddler logic, did 'Paid' stamp = gone, and your sister stamped the walls to try and get rid of the black marks?

Heather said...

Oh I am crying I am laughing so hard. I believe this story 100%. My 26month old daughter has told us recently that either a) a fox came and pooped in her diaper, b) the 8month old baby pooped in her diaper or c) daddy did it. She swears with utter conviction that no, she was not the one who put the poop in her pants. Someone else did. Hee, hee, that is a story you will tell at your sister's wedding!

Delainie said...

I love this story! I also had a perm-obsessed mother. Luckily she gave my sister awful permed BANGS that led to everyone referring to her as Fluffy, and my mom must lvoe me more because she didn't try to force that on me. With my gangly scarwny self, ginormous nose, and constant anorexia accusations, permed bangs are about the last thing I needed. She must've felt the same.

My sis and I once broke a claw off of my mom's hammer (trying to make the boulder in the front yard into gravel) and then both denied supergluing it back together. It must've glued itself. Even your 4 yr old sis-aunt had a better alibi than the 2 of us together!

Anonymous said...

Thank you!! That story is too funny! I don't remember it directly but have heard it a million times. Sorry I got you spanked but at least we have a funny story to tell. It ranks right up there with the pooping on the beach story and the bus stop incident. I love you!!

Wide Lawns said...

Oh I am going to have to write about the beach pooping and the bus stop incident sometime soon. Don't let me forget.

kerry said...

I like it!

You turned out to be a beautiful adult.

Albany Jane said...

Oh I can't wait to hear those two stories!

Wow, see I was similar but a little opposite. I was a greasy, chubby, spectacled youngster with a perm that looked poodle-like. Ok, poodle-like was on a good day.

Hilary said...

She was a conniving wee one.. very bright. My cousin's younger daughter was around 18 months old when she figured out that after a couple of true incidents, she could get her older sister in trouble just by spontaneously faux crying and pointing at her sis.

I loved Love's Baby Soft in my early teens. I could practically smell it.. and the pages of Seventeen.

UmmFarouq said...

I also loved Love's Baby Soft, as well as Anais Anais. Shimmering Shell lipstick. Clearasil with "cover up" for the pimples, so I always walked around looking as if I had tiny dots of mud smeared on my chin and forehead.


DiaryofWhy said...

I wonder if all sisters have a similar story. In my case I was the evil liar, though I was the older sister. When I was about four, I blamed my then one-year-old sister for writing on my bedroom wall. "Your little sister wrote your name on your wall?" my mother asked skeptically. Yeah, I didn't get away with that one. And I learned an important lesson about lying! :)

Sixteen Chickens said...

We had a similar sister-aunt situation in my family. We made new names for people. It humored us and confused others.

Broncle= Brother + Uncle
Sist= Sister + Aunt
Brad= Brother + Dad

TK said...

Ooooh, my little brother would do the point and fake cry thing! Nasty little shits younger siblings are! My wicked psycho stepmother would run outside if he cried because he fell over on his ass as he wasn't super coordinated and was a terrible crybaby, she'd ask him (he wasn't quite 3) if I did "It", he'd say Uh huh and point while crying, and as soon as I got smacked and sent to my room he'd be beaming and laughing himself silly. Little megalomaniac.

You have an awfully bright sister, I'm glad you're friends!

My word verification was "ankst". LOL!

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