So we all know that after Buttons, Scuppy, vodka, Homer Simpson, my Kindle Fire, tacos and my lucky polk-a-dot underwear, my very bestest friend in the world is my sister, Melanie. To be honest, when she came along, I was not exactly sure she would be a good fit for our family. She was small, loud, hairless, toothless and arrived home with no decent toys to share whatsoever. So I tested her mettle by trying to give her to neighbors, locking her naked in the bathroom, strangling her with my truth lasso (this was during my Wonder Woman period) and feeding her quarters. Surprisingly for an infant, she took it all in stride and I decided we could keep her. My parents were grateful for my benevolence.
Melanie is 2 years, 7 months, 27 days, 5 hours and 15 minutes younger than me…approximately. But if you did not have this guesstimation, you would think were twins. Probably because she looks old and I look young (so I tell myself) but mostly because we are so close in our hearts. When we were younger (like last year), I called her Smelanie and she called me Cracker.
(You can’t handle the cute!)
Being a big sister is a big responsibility. I had to work very hard to teach Melanie about the world when we were kids. Before puberty took over, Melanie was way easier to handle. She reacted well to threats and guilt. An example of a typical conversation while playing at a friend’s house.
Me: Melanie, run home and get the ball so we can play.
Melanie: Why do I always have to get the ball?
Me: Because. Now go get it. I’ll let you play this time. I promise.
Melanie: But I don’t want to go get the ball.
Me: Fine, then. Be selfish. Now nobody gets to play ball because you’re lazy. Thanks a lot.
Melanie: Ok. I’m sorry. I’m going.
This kind of logic always worked. Even when I had a $5 bill and she had five $1 bills and I explained to her it wouldn’t be fair unless she gave me two of her dollars. Then we’d both have 3 bills and we’d both be happy…my mother made me give her the $2 back. It’s obvious that my mother did not have a little sister and thus did not understand the lesson I was teaching Melanie as her big sister. Pffftttt…whatever.
(You’ll never learn to escape the box if you never get in the box.)
I also spent one afternoon braiding every hair on her head into tiny little Bo Derek braids and putting a bunch of rubber bands around them. It took my grandmother hours to get them out. When we wanted to play electrician, I would screw the faceplates off the outlets and then let her dig in the hole after it was off. I somehow managed to convince her that Angela Lansbury on “Murder She Wrote” was a killer and she was always scared to go to bed after it was on. When we played “Dukes of Hazzard” she always had to be Cooter, even if it was just the two of us playing. Ok, I’ll admit. I actually laughed out loud when I typed that. Man, that was funny! But in all seriousness, the fact that Melanie lived to adulthood is proof that God really does perform miracles.
This period of time, also known as the War of the Woomers or the War of Totally Tubular Proportions (circa 1986-1992), was really tough on my parents. We fought over everything! Clothes, accessories, shoes, makeup, food, friends, pets, tv, music, electricity, politics, religion, who could breathe, who could grow, which one of us was really adopted…it was endless. We couldn’t say good morning without the other one responding with something like “Ugh. You made it through the night again?” One time she threw an open can of Sprite in my face in front of everybody at the bus stop. Once I literally tackled her for the last Band-Aid (she had a cut of some sort-allegedly). She had taken it from my side of the bathroom. I didn’t need it but I still tore it up so she couldn’t have it. We got into a physical, scratching, hair pulling fight as teenagers because I wanted the deadbolt on the front door locked and Melanie did not. As you can see, these were all serious, life threatening issues completely worth kicking each other’s asses over. (insert sarcasm here) Melanie might be little, but she’s mean, tough and scrappy. Since I’m bigger, the only way I ever won was if I sat on her.
(What did I tell you about looking at the sun on my day!)
But whenever my mom would say, “You know what? You two want to kill each other? Go ahead! I don’t care anymore. Go on! Hit her, Christa. Kick her, Melanie. You want it so bad? Kill each other. I dare you.” Then we would be like, “Geez, Mom. Calm down. I don’t want to hurt her. She’s my sister. You’re such a drama queen.” I’m surprised my mother didn’t drink more.
After I graduated high school, there was a huge change in the dynamic of our relationship. I’m not sure how or why but we started hanging out for no reason and realized, we really liked each other. We had so much fun together and really complimented each other. I was outgoing when she was shy. She was brave when I was a coward. She helped my fashion and I helped her stop wearing her bangs like a rooster.
(Who else is hanging their head in shame right now?)
I was on time when she was late. She was nurturing when I was a bitch. We took turns staying up and keeping watch for Freddy Krueger while the other one slept. She would flirt with cute guys she wasn’t interested in so I could mack on their friends. I would dry hump unsuitable guys from behind who were trying to dance with her when she didn’t want to. When she was in labor, I was the first to honestly tell her, “This is really not cute.” And she was the first to tell me the same about my ex-husband before he was my ex-husband. We’re both funny as hell. When I said, “I think I’ve had enough to drink tonight.” She would say, “You can’t listen to you. You’re drunk. Have another!” I so love my sissy! We’ve bowled together. We’ve gone clubbing together. We’ve traveled together. We’ve read the same books and loved the same movies. We’ve hated the same people. We’ve discovered a love of history together. We’ve run from the cops together. We’ve laughed and cried and vomited together. And that was just last summer!
The Here and Now
I can always be myself around my sister. I can tell my sister anything and vice versa. No judgment, no censure, no repeating it. In fact, sometimes she doesn’t even remember I told her something vitally important. We can rail, bitch, yell and cry at each other and then be fine like nothing happened 15 minutes later. My mom can’t understand that. But that’s just the way it is. As time passes and Melanie ages, we only get closer. She is now the mother of 2 teenagers. (Let us all take a moment of silence to pray for her……..thank you.) I am an actress in L.A. She sings in the church choir. I sing at karaoke. Our conversations revolve around work and what body part hurts most today. Our partying days are long behind us. Even though we live 2,300 miles apart (which, despite the laws of physics, both sucks and blows), I know she is always there for me. And I am always there for her.
(This is the least drunk-looking growed up pic I could find)
Out of all the stuff my mom’s ever given to me, I can honestly say Melanie is my favorite…followed by the time she introduced me to Ryan Seacrest. I will say, when my dad took me to the nursery and showed me baby Melanie screaming behind the glass, I very pragmatically said, “I’d rather have a pony.” I humbly admit, I was wrong.