Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Many Happy Returns of the Sister

Susan as Ghost, 2003
Originally uploaded by panopticon.

On this day, in 1976, my oldest and dearest friend was born: my sister, Susan.

I was an only child for the first five years of my life. According to the psychology books a new baby should have been a source of disruption and anger for me.

Not so.

From the moment (I remember it clearly) that my parents told me the stork was on the way, I decided I wanted a sister and started praying for one.

And when I got the happy news, this morning in 1976, I did a frenetic dance around living room screaming "I have a sister! I have a sister!"

Later that day, when the chickens we were hatching in my kindergarten classroom started to emerge from their shells, I changed the name of mine from "Farrah Fawcett" to "Susan" in her honor.

You have to give this girl credit for surviving to adulthood.

Over the years she patiently put up with having a brother who:

  • Always, always got the bigger bedroom in every house we lived in;
  • Frequently dressed her up like a doll according to his capricious whims;
  • Messed with her hair, on one occasion braiding it into cornrows;
  • Livened up her pre-teen weekends with day-long trips to art museums;
  • When called upon to help her come up with a fun Halloween costume for a little kids' party, persuaded her to go as the Queen of the Night from Mozart's opera Die Zauberflöte;
  • During a game of "Magical Princess Who Can Fly," threw her, head first, into the bedroom wall.

And yet she survived. Thrived, even.

Nowadays, the tiny thing I first saw in a hospital incubator (difficult birth, ask my mother for gory details) goes forth daily to a high school classroom and coaxes a love for Romeo and Juliet out of teenagers who otherwise might never give a damn.

Me, I can still be bossy and will never get over the urge to dress her up (we made the ghost photograph above during a Christmas visit two years ago). But she's still patient with me and I can only hope she knows it always comes from love.

Love, and the fact that she got the tall, slender figure that clothes hang well on, and the lovely head of dark, shiny hair. Oh, and let's not forget, the itty bitty little nose and the flawless complexion.

Not that I'm bitter or anything. Happy Birthday, Sue Pie.


Colleen said...

What a wonderful tribute to your sister.

I think about the only time my brother ever appreciated me was when he was underage in college and used me to buy him booze.

Anonymous said... are too sweet--and I don't know if it was the act itself that is responsible, but I do not recall being thrown into a wall. I shall never forget, however, my tenure as Motzart's Queen of the Night. What a great response to the question, "And what are YOU supposed to be, little girl?" Wrapped in gold and white bedsheets with glitter on my cheeks, I can only imagine what the neighbors thought!

And I did get the room with the vaulted ceiling at Pohu Place. It was worth the wait.

To all the Franklin fans out there--I must admit, there was probably more in it for me than for him that we were siblings. To my dear brother I owe my love of reading and writing, and most importantly, my ability to make believe. What greater gift is there than that?

Thanks for thinkin' of me on this here special day...

Love ya,
Crepes Suzette (remember that?!)

birdfarm said...

Pohu Place! I remember that. Sending lots of yellow legal pad pages off to Pohu Place in the days before email. I think we had some kind of joke about "Pohu Place," actually, although when I scratch my head all I can remember is Frank's illustration of the Eurail Fairy.

Sue, happy birthday. I don't know if we've ever met properly, certainly not for more than a few minutes, but I remember you fondly from all Franklin's stories of his wonderful sis.

I remember him telling us about your reaction when that Cole Porter "tribute" came out--you know, the AIDS benefit album "Red, Hot & Blue"? He was proud of you because reportedly you said (to the best of my memory)-- "Supposedly people like it because it has a rap version of 'I Get a Kick Out of You." And we know what we think of those people, don't we?" (I don't know whether Franklin and/or Sue will be amused or appalled at this story--it still makes me laugh, but for different reasons!)

Here's to fifteen years later, all of us sassy as ever (if a tad less biting). ;-)

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Birdfarm, for the happy wishes. We did meet at least once, if only briefly, but I feel like I know you the way you know me, through my brother's stories. What a guy--thanks for being his friend then and now.

birdfarm said...

My pleasure entirely!

goblinbox said...


L M said...

Reading from the beginning, so I'm yeeeeeeeeeeears behind at the moment... I really wish I'd had a big brother who'd dressed me up as the Queen Of The Night, though! (I'm still planning as going as her some Halloween.)