When I was little, I used to run out my back door, past my fence, and into the woods right beyond my yard, which boasted a fallen tree (which my sister and I creatively dubbed “the Log”) and the opportunity to sit by myself for just five seconds.
Until my baby sister would appear in my wake, doing this weird scowl-y thing with her face and wondering how on earth I could have left her alone.
I would get annoyed at this point, because our house was tiny, our family was loud, and did this brown-haired, dark-eyed mini-version of me not understand the notion of privacy?
Of course she didn’t. In a family where you share everything, the notion of privacy doesn’t really fit anywhere.
Small house, remember.
Most of the time I would reluctantly let her in on whatever it was I was up to. If I was reading, I’d let her walk on the Log like a balance beam, hoping she wouldn’t fall off and scream, because her screams were so loud that most likely, the rest of my family would come running (and screaming) after her.
If I was in the mood for Pretending (the practice of which I am really hoping doesn’t get swept away with the onset of cell phones and facebook and everything else out there), I’d let her be the Servant.
Or the Dog. It was really funny when she was the Dog, because I’d put her in the actual dog house, which was constructed by my father.
If you know my father, you know that this means there were most certainly nails sticking out of the inside of the dog house.
But J would patiently allow me to actually put a leash on her, and boss her around.
Generally the theme of Pretending was that I was the Boss.
It still is, actually.
In any case, there were also times when I just decided that I could not handle this pipsqueak interfering in whatever weird, nature-y solitary act I’d embarked upon.
I’d like to take a moment to admit that I wore blue, plastic glasses and had these terrible, thick, triangle-y bangs. I was a bona fide weirdo.
So in these moments, I’d remind her that my father had put poisonous peanut butter out for the raccoons to eat.
I don’t think he actually did this, for the record.
But my sister was a thumb sucker, and she was in constant mortal terror that her hands would touch something toxic and then she would put them in her mouth.
She was convinced this would mean instantaneous death.
All you had to do was aim a bottle of Windex at her and she’d run away shrieking.
Unlike my beloved baby brother, who once took a few swigs of the stuff and was none the worse for it.
As soon as I mentioned this probably-made-up peanut butter, she’d turn on her heel and head back in the direction of the house, and I’d sit quietly for about ten minutes before I decided I’d had enough.
And on this day, I would merely like to apologize for the false reports of J-ending poison in the woods, as I am quite sure that if my sister trotted up to me today, I would be nothing more than delighted to see her LA sun-kissed face.
As long as she let me be the Boss, anyway.