I grew up among big sisters.
I relied heavily on those three older sisters to steer me in the right direction, provide me with entertainment, clue me in on the latest cool things to say and keep me informed on what not to wear.
The three oldest girls were born in three consecutive years. Several more years passed before I came along. Another five years would pass before my brother arrived on the scene.
No man’s land. So, in a sense, I was sort of in the middle of no man’s land and I felt I had been born with a whole lot of catching up to do. Dad used to say I was born talking, asking questions. My earliest vivid memory is of my sisters all heading off to school and I was left wondering what in the world I would do without them all day long. And, more importantly, what would they do without me?
When my sisters had friends over, I felt certain they could never have entertained them to such a wonderful degree if I were not there, orchestrating their every move, sharing my latest jokes, singing along to their newest records. I was quite willing to be the “gopher” if they needed any little thing, but I was back in a flash. I didn’t want to miss a single word.
I was something between a shadow and a very annoying glue stick. No amount of shaking could cut me loose from the crowd.
The day arrived when the friends who came over were no longer just girls. My oldest sister suddenly had a boyfriend. Just in case she hadn’t reached this realization, I sang the “Steve and Sandie, sitting in a tree, k-i-s-s-i-n-g” song for her. Repeatedly.
Intervention. Somehow, I have a sense that at some point my oldest sister asked my father to intervene. “Your mother and I have to go away this afternoon. I hear that Steve is coming over to see Sandie.” I nodded and stuck my nose slightly in to thin air, feeling haughty.
I was certain Dad was going to ask me to be “on call” to entertain the troops for the afternoon.
“I have a suggestion for you. Steverino doesn’t deserve to have you for a girlfriend. If I were you, I would not even give that guy the time of day.” I was not at all sure what my father was trying to tell me, but I made a mental note of his instructions. He went on to suggest I keep an eye on the latest litter of baby pigs, the newborn calves, and since it was a warm day, the stock tanks might need checked for water.
Playing it cool. Sure enough, Steve arrived. He pretended to ignore me, though I knew he was dying to have me sit close and gaze in to his eyes or sing along to the latest songs on the radio they had playing. I had sort of figured out my father’s advice by then and decided to play it cool. This time, Steve would be wishing for the wise, witty and wonderful me to return.
I was outside, jumping rope, attempting to climb the twin maple trees, riding my bike up and down the sidewalk, trying desperately to remain within earshot of every single thing Stunning Steve might have to say as he sat on the porch with my sister. But, boy, was I giving him the cold shoulder! I decided I was pretty good at it. I wanted so badly to tell him my latest, greatest knock-knock joke, but I stood my ground.
Sure enough, several hours in to this extremely boring Sunday afternoon, Steve could no longer stand being ignored by me. “Hey, Shorty! What time is it?”
I kept right on listening to the card I had attached to my bicycle wheel make beautiful music as I pedaled lickety-split down the sidewalk. “Shorty! I really do need to know what time it is!”
Find your own clock. I made a grand display, pedaling my bright blue Schwinn with the banana seat down that sidewalk, slamming on the brakes as I steered expertly to the left just as I reached the porch steps. I barely gave that guy a glance as I said, coolly, “Dad said I shouldn’t even give you the time of day, so I guess you’ll have to find your own clock.”
Many, many years have passed. But, I have a feeling they are still laughing at me.
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