“When she was young, my sister was what we called chunky, and the longer my dad carried on about Greg the better it seemed to draw attention to it.
“Hey,” I called. “Gretchen’s in a sunbeam. Does anybody else smell bacon frying?” My sister looked at me like, Weren’t we friends just two minutes ago? Where is this coming from?
“Maybe Mom should put her on a diet,” I said. “That way she won’t be so fat.” “Actually, that’s not a bad idea,” my father said. My mother, newly pregnant and feeling somewhat chunky herself, put her two cents in, and I settled back, triumphant.
This was the advantage of having a large family. You didn’t want to focus attention on Lisa— Miss Perfect— but there were three, and later four, others to go after, all younger and all with their particular faults: buckteeth, failing grades. It was like shooting fish in a barrel. Even if I wound up getting punished, it was still a way of changing the channel, switching in this case from The Greg Show to The David Show, which was today sponsored by Gretchen’s weight problem. Meanwhile, my sisters had their own channels to change, and when it got to be too much, when our parents could no longer take it, they’d open the car door and throw us out.
The spot they favored— had actually blackened with their tire treads— was at the bottom of a steep hill. The distance home wasn’t all that great, a half mile, maybe, but it seemed twice as long when it was hot or raining, or, worse yet, during a thunderstorm.
“Aw, it’s just heat lightning,” our father would say. “That’s not going to kill anybody. Now get the hell out of my car.” Neighbors would pass, and when they honked I’d remember that I was in my Speedo. Then I’d wrap my towel like a skirt around my waist and remind my sisters that this was not girlish but Egyptian, thank you very much.”
I missed you, old friend!