Have you ever acted like a d*ck?

I’m not going to pretend I wasn’t pissed off at the time, but I was hardly going to hand over to them the power to ruin the rest of my day, let alone scar me for life.

I was a senior in high school in 1981. While at gymnastics practice, I experienced something somewhat akin to Christine Blasey Ford’s traumatic and life-altering sexual assault, except my reaction to it was decidedly different.

I had left the gym to go out into the lobby and get a drink at the “good” drinking fountain—the fountains in the gym were a half-assed affair where the water’s pathetic attempt at dribbling out necessitated a serious amount of slurping and sucking (remember: this was 1981, decades before everyone—not just we serious athletes—carried around a bottle of water). As I was walking away from the fountain to go back into the gym, two members of our varsity boys’ basketball team—at the time undefeated and the reigning heroes of the school—grabbed me and proceeded to drag me into the boys’ locker room. Based on the fetid odor of boy sweat, the team had just finished their practice and were occupying the locker room where I assumed they were showering and changing into their street clothes. I can’t tell you much more because as soon as I saw where the guys were dragging me, I squeezed my eyes shut and didn’t open them until the “ordeal” was over.

So, there I was, in my gymnastics leotard and bare feet, in the smelly boys’ locker room where—and I’m just conjecturing here based on all the whoops and hollers and stupid boy laughter—I’m sure all manner of male junk was shoved in my face.

Of course, I started screaming at the top of my lungs hoping someone outside the locker room would come in and rescue me because I did not want to open my eyes and see a bunch of my classmates balls-ass naked.

Soon after I started screaming, my coach Mr. D_____ came into the locker room. I could tell something was different because it became unmistakably quieter. Without a word to anyone, Coach grabbed me and proceeded to lead me out of the locker room.

And here’s the part that really sucked. He yelled at me because I allowed myself to fall victim to these boys’ prank. He yelled at me because I was out of the gym when I should have been practicing back walkovers on the beam. He yelled at me because I had the audacity to leave the gym to get a drink at the “good” fountain. He yelled at me because, well, because he thought this was all my fault.

What happened next? Sufficiently chastened by Coach, I hopped back up on the beam and continued practicing my back walkovers.

What didn’t happen next? I didn’t tell my dad because he would have come unglued and kicked somebody’s ass. I didn’t tell the boys’ varsity coach because I didn’t think it warranted that much attention. I didn’t tell any of my friends who the two guys were who dragged me into the locker room, or, if I did, my friends didn’t think it was important enough to tell anyone else. In short, it happened, and I got over it.

Thirty-seven years later, I’m pretty sure who one of the guys was; I don’t remember the other. If I were asked to testify under oath about the incident, I’d have to say it happened so fast that I do not remember who the two young men were.

Am I permanently scarred because of this incident? No. Why? Because I realized, even at the time, that these were boys being dicks. I’m not going to pretend I wasn’t pissed off at the time, but I was hardly going to hand over to them the power to ruin the rest of my day, let alone scar me for life. Have you ever acted like a dick? I know I have.

Now, before you get up on your hind legs and cry out a fresh string of lamentations about how I’m a mother of two girls and how can I be so insouciant about this whole sordid event, let me reiterate, if you didn’t already draw this conclusion.

I was not physically hurt, nor was I psychologically hurt. Honestly, the worst part of all this remains my coach’s reaction. I’m nearly positive, though, if in his dotage he remembered this today, he’d chide himself for his poor sense of judgement.

I also realize that if this were to happen today, the fallout would be far different than it was in my small high school in 1981. The sh*t would hit the fan, careers would be destroyed, counselors would be on hand to provide comfort to all the victims, and most likely, two relatively decent guys who stupidly decided one afternoon to be a couple of dicks would lose everything. But, like my 17-year-old self, I refuse to be a victim.

If today any member of that championship team were to be nominated for a seat on the Supreme Court, you can bet this story would never see the light of day. You can also bet—based on the fine men each of those boys have become—that I’d throw my support behind any one of them.

What does that make me? I’d say it makes me a realist who understands the difference between the way adolescents act versus the manner in which adults should comport themselves. All I am asking is for perspective.

 

Finally, an app that makes you pretty!

… pretty different from what you really look like, that is.whatiwishireallylookedlike

I’m not sure what to think about this. While it’s true (and I’d be a big fat liar if I said otherwise) that I love this image of … um … me, I also realize that I don’t look anything like this.

Or do I?

Face it (pun intended) it’s kinda fun to look at an image of your best self and pretend it’s really you. I’ve never considered myself photogenic, but hells bells, if I looked like this, I’d be running for mayor or something.

I found this app on Facebook—you know, one of those “See what your movie star self would look like” or some such nonsense, and, of course, I tried it. Then I got really creative and dropped a screenshot of the image into Photoshop, got rid of the app’s identifying yellow arrow, and wham, it’s me.

Or a reasonable facsimile. Or just a facsimile.

I did this once with a picture of my sister Becky.  She’s always wanted to be a Disney princess, so I made her one. Here’s how it turned out.

cinderella
It’s Becky, I swear. Cinderella has blue eyes. Becky has green eyes. So there.

She still hasn’t changed her profile picture to this because she doesn’t want people to think she’s just this cute.

Becky gets annoyed with me whenever I change up my Facebook profile picture (which I do often) because she sees it as a pathetic cry for attention, which, admittedly, it probably is. And since no one else ever takes pictures of me, I take a lot of selfies, and sometimes those selfies end up looking better than the last selfie I took and, well, it’s a vicious cycle, y’know?

But I also don’t want anyone to think I’m hiding my true self with my creativity here, even though it would take yards of Spanx, some pretty resourceful and expensive hair and makeup magic, and a couple of well-placed shrubs to render me decent enough for a realistic full-body pic. The truth lies somewhere in between what you see above and this gem of a photo, below.

9-7-2017
Tried to be a passport photo

You see, this is the original me, the selfie that I took that I thought I could use as a passport photo (when what really happened is that I got to the post office and Cliff, the guy behind the counter, took a picture of me with dirty hair, no makeup, and a really pissed off look on my face that any respectable customs agent will undoubtedly interpret as a terrorist threat). However, looking at this photo, I’m not sure which is worse.

real passport photo
No admittance

I think the appeal of the Facebook app that renders your ordinary self into a smokin’ hot goddess is that we mere mortals rarely have the opportunity to make over ourselves into our fantasy selves. Because this is what this is, and it is what it is. The churched-up image might be pretty to look at, but it doesn’t begin to describe the wonderfulness of who we really are inside, right?

At least that’s what I’m telling myself.

Keeping up with why people care about Kim Kardashian

Why is it that we care so much about people we don’t even know?

 

Continue reading Keeping up with why people care about Kim Kardashian

Looks like trouble

I needed to stop judging kids until I had a good idea of who they were, where they came from, and where they intended to go.  I had to learn their story.

Continue reading Looks like trouble

A victory for women?

Abortion has become the scepter of the feminist, the talisman against oppression and male dominance, the badge of honor of the progressive left.

Hillary Clinton gleefully and smugly called it a “… victory for women!” Yesterday, SCOTUS ruled to strike down a Texas law requiring abortion clinics to become safer (thereby holding them to somewhat higher standards than a CVS Minute Clinic), calling it an “undue burden” for women.   Yes, according to the Democratic nominee for President of the United States, it is a victory for women that abortion clinics do not have to rise to the same standards as a facility where one might have their wisdom teeth removed.

Only we’re not talking about removing wisdom teeth, and therein lies the bigger issue.

The reason for the court’s ruling?  Should the Texas law have remained in effect, a number of sub-standard abortion facilities in the Lone Star state would have had to either be closed or refurbished to meet the higher standards of care—much like a hospital.  Physicians performing abortions would be required to have privileges at nearby hospitals in cases where complications may arise.  All of this regulation would, according to SCOTUS, make it more difficult for women to access health care.

I call bullshit.

The law would have limited the number of abortions in the state of Texas, so by striking down the legislation, SCOTUS has effectively sanctioned more abortions.  Obviously it’s not women they care about, it’s the issue of abortion.  Abortion has become the scepter of the feminist, the talisman against oppression and male dominance, the badge of honor of the progressive left.  They don’t care to know how the actual surgical procedure is carried out, nor do they concern themselves with the moral, ethical, or spiritual implications of abortion itself—no, what’s more important to them are the memories of their bygone struggle to attain and their present commitment to maintain the right of a woman to have an unborn baby viciously sucked out of her uterus.  It’s never been about women’s health care.

A victory for women?  Hardly.  A victory for the progressive left?  Absolutely.

Worst of all, a sad, tragic reminder that there remains a sector of our society that simply does not value life.

Sidebar:  For those conservatives who have decided not to vote in November because Donald Trump doesn’t fit into their milquetoast ideology of what a Republican nominee should look like, understand that the next president will most likely be nominating 3-4 justices for the Supreme Court.  Do you really want Hillary Clinton to be making those choices for you?

Don’t Cry for Me Hillary Clinton

The truth is, I just don’t like you.

According to conventional wisdom, I should vote for Hillary Clinton because she will fight for my rights as a woman.  She will insure that my daughters and I have access to free birth control, abortions on demand, and that we’ll soon be able to sue our employers because we don’t earn as much as men. USA ELECTIONS HILLARY CLINTON

Thanks, but no thanks, Hillary. Neither I nor my daughters need you in our corner “fighting” for our rights.  That would suggest that we’re victims.  If it’s all the same to you (which obviously it isn’t) we’d prefer that you not brand us as the hapless, helpless casualties of white male dominance and supremacy.

Because we’re not.

In fact, when I look back on my mother’s life, I’m pretty sure that she would laugh at the notion that someone like Hillary Clinton has her back.  No one needed to have my mother’s back—she forged her own destiny during her short time on Earth.  In today’s vernacular, she would have told Hillary Clinton to suck it.  She didn’t need a Hillary Clinton to tell her in 1951 that she could go to college, she didn’t need a Hillary Clinton to tell her in 1959 that she could have both a family and a career, and she would have been horrified by Hillary Clinton’s decades-old obsession with providing abortions, especially under the guise of “women’s healthcare”.

SayNoToHRC

But those in Hillary’s world want you to believe that without her, we would all be living in a 1950’s television sitcom nightmare where we had to ask a man’s permission to do what we all take for granted today.  Hillary Clinton had absolutely nothing to do with the evolution of women’s rights—she was born in 1947.

Hillary Clinton’s attempt to feed all of us this misguided vision of herself as the great Mother of us all, the one who will deliver us from ourselves and make us better, stronger, faster, and richer is hardly born out of her instincts as a mother as she would like all of us to think.  She (like her opponent) recites a litany of meaningless platitudes that she thinks will win her the election.  But much of everything that Hillary Clinton says is worthless because (unlike her opponent), she has lied so many times about so many things that she has lost credibility.  It isn’t hard to uncover her lies—that is, if you’re being honest with yourself and you’re paying attention.

Granted, her opponent in this race is no boy scout himself; however, I’ll take my chances with him rather than risk America’s future on a woman whose campaign is built upon a teetering and not-so-brilliantly assembled house of cards.

If you’re at all on the fence about this come November, ask yourselves this:  If not Trump, then the presidency should go to the woman who funded her campaign with “donations” to her foundation (read: money laundering organization) from countries that sponsor terrorism and practice misogyny and basic human rights violations? The same woman whose obsession with keeping Planned Parenthood up and running and killing unborn babies exists under the false pretext of protecting women’s access to healthcare? The same woman who allowed four Americans to die needlessly in Benghazi even after Ambassador Christopher Stevens had repeatedly begged the State Department for more security?

I’ll take the lesser of the two evils, thank you. At least Trump committed his sins as a private citizen.

 

Standing Up for the Ladies’ Room

Must parents now worry about some creeper peeking over the stalls just because he says he’s feeling like a woman today?

According to that defender of liberalism The Huffington Post, Americans aged 18 to 29 favor letting transgender people use the restroom of their identity by a 2-to-1 ratio.

Additionally, according to The Huffington Post and the rest of the liberal media, only states inhabited by slack-jawed booger-eating morons would deny transgender Americans their God-given right to use the restroom that corresponds to their gender identity.

Tell me something:  If a guy identifies as a man on Monday, does that mean he can identify as a woman on Tuesday?  Or does it depend upon who he watches walk into the Ladies’ room Tuesday afternoon at Target?

Seriously, what the hell happened to common sense?  You want to know why “Americans aged 18-29” are okay with guys going into girls’ bathrooms?  Because they don’t have kids!

Consider this:  There are far more pedophiles among the citizenry than there are people who identify as transgender.  And while it’s true that parents should always accompany their small children into a public restroom, there are those in-between years when parents should and do let their elementary or upper elementary-aged children go into a restroom by themselves (especially when it’s a mom trying to shake a crying preschooler off her leg while attempting to distract her toddler from grabbing the Pez dispensers in the checkout aisle).

Must parents now worry about some creeper peeking over the stalls at their little girl because he claims he’s feeling like a woman today?

I could paint the various scenarios for you to consider, but really, folks—it doesn’t take a forensic psychology degree to figure this one out.   Our children should not have to face a member of the opposite sex while they’re using a public restroom, no matter what age they are.  Furthermore, children lack the maturity to process the absurdity of seeing a male in a supposedly female and private setting, or a female in a supposedly male and private setting.

And no, it’s not a “good lesson” in tolerance for our children.  Like learning about the intricacies of sexuality at too young of an age, the complexities of transgenderism are hardly a topic any parent should have to deal with on the car ride home from Target.

Look, like their mother, my kids were never wimps about things like this.  My husband and I taught them to be aware that there are all kinds of people in the world, which, generally, makes our world a pretty cool place to be.  We didn’t shield them from delicate subjects, but neither did we expect them to handle situations or concepts that were not aligned with their level of maturity.

Furthermore, if my daughters had ever reported to me that there was a man present while they went in to use the restroom, that man better damn sure be wearing a cup.

Does this make me a homophobe?  I don’t see how.  This has nothing to do with homosexuality; rather, it has everything to do with the media grabbing onto the tail end of an issue and running with it because Donald Trump hasn’t said anything stupid in a few days, and what else are they going to write about?

(That’s not necessarily true, though.  I had to laugh when I heard Donald Trump say he didn’t give a crap [pun intended] if transgender folks use the restroom that corresponds with their gender identity.  His children most likely never had to use a public restroom without their being accompanied by armed security and a retinue of nannies.)

So put away your rainbow posters and your LGBT placards, because this isn’t what this bathroom issue is about.  It’s about attaching an absurd concept—the “anything goes” restroom—to a cause that, frankly, I’m still scratching my head over.  My gay and lesbian friends are great people who appear to be living the American dream, as well they should.

And if you’re among the infinitesimal number of people in the country who identify as transgender—get over it.  If you have a penis, use the Men’s room.  If you don’t, use the Ladies’.  If you’re a “Dude (who) looks like a lady”, keep it in your panties until you’re behind a locked stall.

Using guilt to force the majority of Americans to bend to the will of a pocket-sized sampling of the population is hardly an example of doing the greatest good for the greatest number of people, no matter where or how you take care of your personal business.

I don’t know about you, but right now I have enough men in my life peeing on the seat.

Trumpe-L’oeil

Trump’s campaign is the ruse of the century

It’s always risky to make assumptions only to find out later that you were completely off base in your assessment, but the prospect of a Trump presidency is so bizarre, I’m just going to go ahead and say this:

Trump is not in it to win it.

Pundits will argue that he sure as hell is in it to win it and it looks like he will, dammit.  Others will say that his unorthodoxy is part of what makes him the brilliant tactician that he is; that by making outrageous and seemingly offensive statements he is breaking the mold of the consummate politician thereby owning this election.  Another segment of the population is so offended by him and his Hitler-esque ideology (their words, not mine) that they’re predicting we’ll soon be goose stepping our way through a totalitarian dictatorship.  Still some, like me, just think he’s crazy.

Like a fox.

Do you really think Trump wants to make America great again?  Or is it something else?  When a guy’s got his name on more buildings than Sam Walton, it can’t be the fame.  Power hungry?  I get that, but there are other ways to be powerful without having to hoodwink the electorate all the way into the White House.  I know, Ronald Reagan was an outlier, too but who are we kidding:   Trump is no Ronald Reagan.

This isn’t my first assessment of the ruse of the century. In early August, and after Trump had announced his candidacy, I posted this vignette on Facebook.

august trump prediction

At this point, I’m not sure that this is exactly his motive, but I do think he has some O’Henry trick up his sleeve, you know, the surprise ending.  Because come on, you threaten to boycott a debate because you don’t like Megyn Kelly?  Really, Donald, if you can’t get along with the host of a cable news show, how are you going to navigate Putin?  Whining that you’re not coming to the party if Megyn is there rather emasculates you, don’t you think?  At the very least you sound like a petulant child who is picking up his toys and going home.

Most unbecoming, Sir.

His behavior is not logical, which is why some in the political sphere, like Rush Limbaugh, believe this is all part of his strategy.  To me, though, it appears as if he is setting himself up to be so reviled that he’ll either step aside and let someone else occupy his spot, or he really is a DNC plant.

Regardless, I both cringe and shake my head every time the guy opens his mouth, wondering what manner of cartoon character rhetoric is going to come out.  Would I keel and wail and render my flesh if he manages to get elected?  No.  Furthermore, I don’t think that’s going to happen.  This guy is too smart to resort to acting like an asshat, and he’s wily enough to fool people into thinking that he is.

If that circular logic baffles you, then guess what?  You’ve been Trumped.

Mother of the Year

I couldn’t get out of my mind the picture of her son crying out for help without thinking, why wasn’t she there?

Wife and mother Helena Richards Colby resides in a tony suburb of Cincinnati, Ohio.   Helena lives a life that most of us dream of—she’s wealthy and reasonably attractive, with a well-appointed home that includes plenty of space for entertaining, a large back yard with a pool, and a gorgeous lake view.  But what Helena wants most is the envy and adulation of her peers, and to a greater degree (though she would never admit it) she wishes to climb the proverbial social ladder to become a select member of Cincinnati’s privileged elite.

Helena stepped on the first rung of that ladder in January 2012, when she talked her husband Will into nominating her for the title of Greater Cincinnati’s Mother of the Year, the promotional brainchild of Cincinnati City magazine.  Nominees (who pay a ridiculous fee just for the faux honor of being nominated) are fêted for an entire year at various magazine-sponsored functions throughout the city in an effort to promote themselves as the quintessential mother, giving Cincinnati’s well-heeled a chance to vote for their ultimate Madonna.  Helena never missed an event.

In September, 2012, Helena and Will were scheduled to attend an event at Cincinnati’s Contemporary Art Center (once home to the infamous Robert Maplethorpe exhibit, but I digress).  It was a Tuesday night, and Helena’s regular sitter, her 16-year-old daughter Hailey, was unfortunately unable to watch the couple’s seven-year-old son, Christopher.  Hailey had a party to attend.  On a Tuesday night.

Never one to say no to her daughter, Helena figured that Christopher would be fine by himself at home.  Hailey would have her cell turned on, of course, and Helena and Will would each have their respective cells on vibrate but within “feeling” proximity.  Hailey assured her parents that she would be no fewer than five minutes from their house, and though Helena and Will would be downtown, Helena was certain that Christopher would be fine for the few short hours that he would be alone.  After all, isn’t teaching children the virtue of self-reliance a hallmark of a Mother of the Year?

Christopher wasn’t so sure.  He didn’t like it when Mommy and Daddy were gone at night, even when Hailey was there with him in the house (she never really was in the same room with him, but at least she was there).  He still slept with his light on in his room most nights, and he didn’t like this time of year when the leaves were starting to fall off the trees outside his bedroom window because they made scrape-y noises that were scary to him.  Christopher didn’t say much at dinner; Mommy and Daddy didn’t notice, and Hailey was busy playing on her phone.

Always in a nervous flurry before these types of events, Helena rushed through dinner and began barking orders to Will in an attempt to get him to hurry.  She didn’t notice that Hailey had already left the house and that Christopher was sulking on the sofa watching a rerun of South Park.  The couple left the house after Helena hastily scrawled hers, Will’s, and Hailey’s phone numbers in big Sesame Street-sized numbers on a piece of loose leaf paper she found in Hailey’s backpack because, well, that’s what good mothers do.  She trusted that Christopher would call one of them if there was an emergency.

Once Helena and Will arrived at the venue, all thoughts of her children were blissfully erased from her consciousness because it was here that she would be introduced to Cincinnati’s preeminent citizens.  Not for her were the hoi polloi that she ordinarily ran into at Kroger or while waiting in the carpool lane at her son’s school.  No, it was among these majestic faces she was meant to rub elbows, to mingle and chat, to exchange dinner invitations.  Helena was in her element.  So transfixed was she that she never felt the phone vibrate in her small reticule clutched in her left hand.  Will’s phone buzzed, too, but after several trips to the bar, so did he.

It wasn’t until she had excused herself to go into the restroom to check on her lipstick that she felt the phone in her purse vibrate.  It was Hailey.  She told her mother that she had had several calls from Christopher who said that he was scared and that he was hearing noises.  Although Hailey offered to go home and check on him, Helena reminded her that Christopher often made up stories about hearing strange noises, and that a good mother would teach him a lesson about crying wolf.  Besides, Helena had it on good authority that the party Hailey was attending was at the home of a board member of one of the city’s most sought after charitable foundations, and she couldn’t wait to hear from Hailey about what the inside of the house looked like.  After all, isn’t encouraging your daughter to develop relationships with influential people part of being a good mother?

Though it doesn’t really matter at this point who arrived home at the Colby residence first, it happened to be Hailey, who would, for the rest of her life, have seared into her brain the image of her little brother’s body as it lay broken, bloodied, and beaten on the cold, bare floor of the empty garage.  At this point in the story, I lack the vocabulary to describe what actually happened at the Colby home that September night—Google it for yourselves if you like.  Suffice it to say that after four armed intruders broke into the home, burgled it, and murdered seven-year-old Christopher Richards Colby in one of the most brutal attacks ever investigated by the first responders and homicide detectives on the scene, Greater Cincinnati’s candidate for Mother of the Year was down one child.

Oh, there was quite an investigation.  The family was questioned repeatedly about the events surrounding the break in and Christopher’s murder.  The day after the murder, the local television affiliate interviewed a tearful Helena who blamed the tragedy on a violent video game she had read about online and suggested that it was this that was the impetus for the killers’ vicious actions and the eventual death of her son. Days, weeks went by with the entire community both mourning alongside the Colby family and expressing outrage at the killers’ murderous rampage.  Ultimately, the killers were caught, and the community and the family could rest a little easier.  But there was nothing that would bring Christopher back.

Even in her grief, though, Helena found a way to turn this heartbreak into a triumph.  After all, she was still in the running for Greater Cincinnati’s Mother of the Year, and with a senseless tragedy to add to her repertoire of virtuous deeds, influential friendships earned, and exposure among the city’s most celebrated citizens, there was no reason to abandon her quest for social acceptance and virtual aristocracy.

The tragedy was too much for her husband, though—he put a gun to his head a month after his son’s murder.  Well, that’s how it was reported anyway.

After a socially acceptable period of quiet mourning, Helena began making the circuit of local and national talk shows, sharing her grief over the murder of her son and the loss of her husband, and used her platform to promote her new raison d’être as the new voice for all mothers out there who have lost a child.  Not surprisingly, after her well-crafted and heavily articulated year-long campaign, in January 2013, Helena Richards Colby was named Greater Cincinnati’s Mother of the Year.  She had endeared herself to nearly everyone.

But not to me.  I couldn’t get out of my mind the picture of her son crying out for help without thinking, why wasn’t she there?  Why did she leave him home alone, helpless and frightened?  Even when her daughter had expressed concern over her brother’s pleas for help, this mother was more concerned with her own social position and that of her daughter’s than she was about the safety of her son.

I am outraged that anyone lacking the fundamental judgement of a parent would deign to promote herself as the arbiter of parenthood.  After she all but fed her son to the killers who ended his life, how can she even consider herself worthy of any praise or accolades, let alone the title of Mother of the Year?  I am outraged that more people, not only in the Cincinnati area but throughout the country, are not as sickened by this situation as I am.  Some are even going so far as to defend her actions and feel that those of us who dare question her motives are engaging in a 17th century witch hunt.   But I don’t care about that.  I’m more concerned about the starry-eyed boot-licking sycophants who are looking at Helena Richards Colby as the gold standard of motherhood.

Any cold-hearted excuse for a human being who can demonstrate this much arrogance, negligence, and lack of judgment and still manage to become the Democratic nominee for President of the United States Greater Cincinnati’s Mother of the Year will stoop to the lowest level imaginable in order to further her self-serving agenda.

Well played

A couple of years ago I wrote a tribute to my brother Jamie, so it’s only fair that I proffer this post about my indomitable sister Becky.  To her friends—because I don’t know anyone who knows her who doesn’t find her fascinatingly fearless, funny, generous, loyal, and charming—my words will serve to reinforce their attachment to her.  Those who have never met her will be clamoring to become a member of the former group.

Be forewarned: She’s quite a bit of humanity to take in.

Middle Child?  Laughable.

Becky is the middle child among the three of us who grew up together, but you’d never know it.  Born sixteen months after my brother (the result of a fit of passion, my Aunt Joyce remarked), Becky and Jamie operated as a formidable team of two, but it was Becky who played the role of the alpha.  Featured imageI came along two and a half years later (the shake of the bag, my dad remarked), and as I grew to know these two bigger people, I realized in short order that I had my work cut out for me.  Both of them definitely had my number, but Becky, as the principal player of the two, used my arrival to hone her particular set of skills.  In me, she had a ready-made sacrificial lamb to serve as a tool to refine her machinations.

This aptitude for dominance would serve her well in her formative years.

On being a tomboy.

Becky was considered a tomboy, which in today’s world would cause parents to assume that their little girl wanted to transition into a little boy, reality TV show and all, but in our 1960s world it just meant that she liked to play with boys and was better at them in sports.  One Christmas, she sat on Santa’s lap and announced, “My name’s Joe and I want a machine gun.”  So she got one.  It wasn’t from Santa but from my parents who understood that being a girl was no reason to deny their daughter a weapon equal to the one my brother already had, and that playing with machine guns, footballs, baseballs, or GI Joes was a natural part of a little girl’s development. Becky was not singularly minded, though.  Once I grew up enough to be of interest to her, she started to exhibit a curiosity in playtime pursuits that were more traditionally girl-like.

On playing with dolls.

Because I liked to play with dolls—especially Barbies—Becky began to show an interest in dolls.  Nothing like co-opting your little sister’s passion.  We each had a set of Barbies; Becky’s were mostly blonde like her and mine were the less-popular brunette versions.  Her dolls remained neatly displayed on a shelf in our room, the plastic hair protectors still swaddling each Barbie’s blonde ‘do while my Barbies were the utility players—legs bent in the wrong direction and stretched akimbo as they sat astride our Johnny West horses, naked, with hair that had been inexpertly chopped with sewing scissors when Becky decided we were going to play beauty shop, and toes often chewed off because Becky dared me to.  My dolls’ clothes—such as they were—were usually torn, snaps missing, threads unraveling as a result of all the wardrobe changes we made when we played beauty pageant; her dolls were left dressed their original factory-chosen outfits and for their entire lives remained unscathed by unnatural manipulation, scissors, teeth, or blue ballpoint pens used as eye shadow.

Sports and competition—no longer a man’s world.

Becky played everything well, and played to win.  Basketball, volleyball, softball—her skills were unmatched; her natural talents were a coach’s dream.  Fortunately, Becky began high school right about the same time that Title IX kicked in, so while the rest of the female population of our high school was just beginning to get used to the idea of wearing the boys’ old uniforms and not using two hands to dribble, Becky had perfected the art of not only taking it to the hole, but executing the pick and roll, throwing elbows, and drawing charges.  She was a better athlete than most of the boys in her class.  She also had more trips to the emergency room, but that’s the price you pay for being an alpha.

The relentless pursuit of glee at my expense.

Becky never missed an opportunity to make me question my self-worth or to diminish my faith in familial relationships; however, I am not bitter, nor do I hold her responsible for any adult angst that I may harbor.  Instead, her endless tormenting made me the woman I am today—unwilling or otherwise immune to putting up with anyone’s shizz.  I’ve suffered the indignity of being in the only grocery store in town on a Saturday with Becky while she hollered at the top of her lungs, “KELLY, DIDN’T YOU SAY YOU NEEDED TAMPONS BECAUSE YOU ARE HAVING YOUR PERIOD RIGHT NOW?  PLAYTEX OR TAMPAX, KELLY?  REGULAR OR SUPER, KELLY?”  I’ve suffered the torment of being duped into thinking I was eating whipped cream when really it was congealed bacon grease and sugar.  I’ve been locked in a room with a dog who had rolled in the carcass of a weeks’ old dead woodchuck and who smelled like a weeks’ old dead woodchuck all while I was suffering from a double ear infection and an undiagnosed case of strep throat.  I’ve eaten cheese that she chewed up and spit back out.  I let her talk me into piercing my own ears.  I even let her cut my hair.  You can’t do anything to me that she hasn’t already done.  You can’t scare me.  You can’t break me.

Toughened up.

In spite of all this, and in a strange twist of irony, I truly believe that I’m a better person because I have Becky as a sister.  Not only has the adult Becky grown out of her mirthful adolescent need for a whipping girl, she has surpassed all my expectations by becoming an amazing wife, mother, and grandmother.  She has also become the best sister, friend, and confidant I could have ever hoped for.  If being her goat was the price I had to pay for having Becky as my sister, I gladly accept that mantle, and I’d suffer through it again if I had to.

moh--becky and me

Maybe she just played me the way all older sisters do, I don’t know.  I’ve nothing against which to gauge her performance.  I’m fairly certain, though, that most girls of that era lacked Becky’s impressive talents and awe-inspiring imagination.

Well played, Sis.  Oh, and happy birthday.