Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Sister, Sister

My older sister doesn't read this blog, so this post isn't a shameless ploy to curry her favor. It won't land me a Christmas present from her, either. I was just thinking about the benefits of having a sister who is about a half-dozen years older than I am.

1. She was in her early teens for Beatlemania. I became a Beatle fan by osmosis. I know all the lyrics to all Beatle songs. John, Paul, George, and Ringo stared down at me from the walls and ceiling of the room I shared with Patti for years. I loved George; she worshipped John. We knew we were the coolest because we didn't fall into the trap of loving Paul like all the other girls.

2. She was an English major. I read books no one else my age ever heard of. I read A Streetcar Named Desire when I was 13. I read Nicholas and Alexandra when I was 14. I read Jane Eyre 4 times before I was even in high school and loved it. I became an English teacher because of her.

3. She wore cool bikini underwear. My mother consistently bought me ugly full-length cotton briefs that came in white, pale pink, and pale blue. Patti bought slippery nylon bikini panties with interesting prints like pandas, stripes, plaid, and the days of the week. One memorable set had big satin fruit appliques right on the fronts. I used to really piss her off by taking her underwear and wearing it, but I always felt so different in her panties.

4. She left all her college books at home. I read the poetry anthologies like it was my job. I read her notes and annotations. Sometimes, I stole her thoughts and ideas and made them mine until I developed my own.

5. She listened to some great music. I grew up with not just the Beatles, but Carly Simon, James Taylor, Simon and Garfunkel, Yes, Three Dog Night, Dusty Springfield, Neil Diamond, and The Hollies. I remember the Christmas she asked for and got a portable record player and that summer, she and my brother joined the Record Club of America. They got 13 albums for a penny and then had to buy just a certain amount more for a year. We were surrounded by music that year. We sang "Momma Told Me Not To Come" by Three Dog Night so loud that we got yelled at. "Want some whiskey in your water, sugar in your tea..."

6. She had her 4 kids well before I started my own family of 2. I could watch her parent and take it from there. She lived close enough so that I could drive over there with my own kids and let the cousins bounce off each other while she and I commiserated. During the heat wave and drought of '88 in NE Ohio, she had air conditioning and I didn't, so we spent a lot of time over there, me with a 3-month-old and three-year-old, and her kids ranging in age from about 6 to 2. We'd plop 'em in the wading pool, fry awhile ourselves, then everybody would go in and rest, snack, then repeat. I learned that kids will eat anything if you turn it into a dip.

7. She ages gracefully. She doesn't sweat the small stuff, and she says as she gets older, more stuff gets smaller. She really prioritizes. Almost ruthlessly, and I admire that. This woman cuts a lot of the shit loose. I continue to take a lesson.

Patti and I shared a room for about 15 years, I guess. For part of that time, we even shared a double bed. She put up with some snoring, and I put up with her incessant, illegal late-night reading. I was a slob most of the time, and she nagged at me about it all of the time. I wonder if she laughs about the irony of it now: she's very casual about her home, and I'm a neat freak about my house and classroom. Funny how things turn out. And what's more, should see my panties.

1 comment:

Oh, thank you for joining the fray!

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