I don’t write very much about my “special” sister; mostly because a beast, uglier than you might care to imagine, would surely emerge from its seething pit beneath my aged skin. On occasion, however, I feel as though I must release this monster in little spits, to prevent certain implosion. The monster lives in the form of wretched childhood memories, and mostly, I prefer to write about the brighter ones ~ those that bring good cheer and cozy feelings.
I’ll continue to refer to this sister as “special” in many of my writings, but for now, let’s just call her (and appropriately so) “SS.” It can stand for Special Sister, or anything else that comes to mind.
The SS and I were closest in age of all the sisters. When we were very little girls, we’d play outdoor games together, splash around in our pool together and share our toys on the living room floor on rainy or snowy days. We also shared many friends, but I learned rather early - when it was time for just the older kids to hang out together, go to a concert, or talk about older-kid stuff. Little siblings were not welcome to be in on such events, and yes, I was the little sister.
Little sisters, I’m sure can be real pests sometimes; especially when mom instructs older sister to drag the young one around and keep an eye on her. Of course, this wasn’t my idea of fun either … I knew what I was in for … but back then, you did what mom told you to do and there were no negotiations. There wasn’t any of this “time out” stuff back in the day. Instead, we had “time to kick your ass from one end of the house to the other.” *
On many, many occasions throughout our childhood, my sister saw fit to make an utter shambles of my life – I’m sure, as punishment for my very existence. She was clever with her schemes, and in many cases she waited years to exact revenge.
One such example of a perfect SS payback was as follows:
After having worked a long and trying nine hour shift at my answering service job, I drove home in the pouring rain around eleven at night, looking very much forward to a hot bath and my cozy bed. As I walked into my apartment, the phone was ringing and I ran to answer it. It was the SS.
SS: Hey, what are you doing?
Hag: I just got in from work. Why?
SS: Look, you HAVE to come over. Tony is on his way over here and he’s bringing his friend. I PROMISED him I’d invite you so his friend wouldn’t feel like a third wheel.
Hag: (thinking “oh cripes”) But it’s late already… I have to work again tomorrow. I don’t want to drive clear across the Island just to entertain some guy I don’t even know so you can see your waste-of-life boyfriend.
SS: (offering no argument about the boyfriend) Come on. It’s not that late. Just stay for an hour or so. Just come as you are… you’re going to love this guy – he is really, really good looking, and smart, and he’s a musician in a great band.
Hag: (thinking, “She's lying but how bad can it be?”) Okay but I will not stay for more than an hour. And DON’T leave me sitting there with this stranger and go off somewhere with Tony.
Now I wasn’t far off the mark with that last statement. The SS was famous for this type of thing. I cannot begin to tell you how many times I got roped into babysitting her daughter while she took off for half a day with some loser.
So against my better judgment, I showered quickly, threw on some face (make-up) and went back out into the driving rain. When I got to the SS’s apartment, it was already after midnight and I was completely exhausted.
I walked into the house, up the stairs and knocked on her door. When she opened it, a huge plume of smoke circled around her as she stood to the side letting me in. I took one breath and was stoned off my ass already; there was enough pot in the air that I’ll bet the old lady next door had the munchies. Mind you, this wasn’t my thing … but it was very much the SS’s.
Her living room screamed with the sound of the Rolling Stones, and as if the leftover pot wasn’t enough to dull my senses, there was a heavy stench of incense wafting through the hallway (HAH! Probably patchouli – knowing her).
“They’re in the kitchen … WAIT till you meet this guy – what a hot ticket” she slurred into my ear, "Oh, and at least undo your top button." Looking up to god, I said, "It doesn't undo... it's sewed on that way." And I should have turned around right then, right there - but did not.
We walked through the living room and down the hall and I spotted Tony sitting in a chair at the head of the table. There was another figure standing with his back to us near the sink. This is very similar to what I saw as he turned to say hello:
Okay, this is Ozzy (who I happen to adore). But you get my drift.
This guy was wearing black leather pants so tight that I could see everything he owned in one quick glance. Below the pants were high heeled platform shoes. He had more bracelets on his wrists than I had in my jewelry box back home. His hair was bottle black, and so were his fingernails. His lipstick was perfectly drawn; that black too. And what could be worse than all that? I already knew the guy, and I never liked the guy.
We had gone to high school together a few years earlier, and let’s just say we did not hang in the same circles.
After being introduced, the SS, true to form, took Tony by the hand and announced that they would be “putting on more music” in the living room. Off they went. Bitch. I sat down thinking a mile a minute just how I could escape this hellish nightmare. The Ozzy-wannabe took a seat as well.
I tried hard to make conversation about how I remembered him in high school, but judging from his responses, I don’t think he even recalled having BEEN to high school … this was going nowhere – fast.
After a dreadful silence – he looked me dead in the eye, flipped his long hair behind one shoulder and said “Soooo ya wanna like - get together or somethin?”
I looked straight back at him and without skipping a beat, said “Ya know what? I left my cigarettes in the car, I’ll be right back.” I was a non-smoker then.
I walked through the den of iniquity that was the black-lit hallway and living room, making paths in the low lying putrid smoke, completely ignored the SS sitting Indian-style on the floor in front of the stereo, and escaped this night from hell as I slammed the door behind me.
I never ran so fast to my car as I did that night. I drove straight home without blinking. The only reason I stopped for red lights was because had I gotten pulled over, no one would ever believe (with the pungent smell stuck to my hair and clothing) that I wasn’t higher than a kite.
I did two things before getting between the sheets that night ~ I unplugged my phone and I wrote in my diary; I was afraid that one day, I might forget this awful experience. Thirty years later, and as it turns out, I’m still trying to.
Thank you SS.
*We never actually got hit in our house. Well, I can’t say never, but it was only on the rarest of occasions, and only a swat on the backside by mom. Mostly, it was enough to just give us the evil stare of death, followed by loud tones and the obligatory “Wait till your father comes home.” Of course, that only meant more evil stares and his reaching for the belt buckle. If you got “the reach” you beat tracks to your room as though it would be the last run of your life.