We idolized our older brothers and had a passion for the Bay City Rollers. Forgive us our haircuts, which to be fair, were very hip for the time. Also, we’re sitting in my sister’s bean bag chair. Can you just smell the 1970s or what?
It’s the summer of 1978 and my best friend Michael and I are singing and dancing together to Maxine Nightingale’s “Right Back Where We Started From.”
This was nowhere near our idea.
Our sisters, five years older than we, took special delight when we were little in finding new and interesting ways to make us perform, entertain and otherwise serve them. This often involved Michael and me holding hands and trying desperately to remember intricately choreographed dance numbers.
It sounded sort of like this:
My sister: “No, do the turn now! Okay, kick! Higher!
Michael’s sister: “Hahahaha! Okay, now hug each other! Hahahahahaha.”
The better news was that our performances garnered us access to areas usually off limits to us, i.e. Michael’s older sister Laura’s room, which seemed rather like heaven with shag carpet.
Also, Michael made up for my painful shyness with his exuberant energy and constant willingness to be a clown for the joy he received getting me to laugh.
It’s one of the many reasons I love him. Because he still does it.
As you might imagine, I cannot hear Ms. Nightingale’s hit without immediately being transported to that bedroom where Michael and I performed for our sisters, an array of stuffed animals, and hunky posters of 1970s heartthrobs.
In our 20s, Michael and I became roommates, sharing expenses, dinners, and making each other the occasional mix CD. One song is a constant on every mix.
From left: me, my sister and my cousin, circa 1978.
I’m going to visit my sister tomorrow. In light of this, I burned a CD with some of our childhood favorites which includes Maxine Nightingale, Michael Jackson, Olivia Newton-John and Donna Summer. (Kindly contain your jealousy. Asked nicely, I might just burn a copy for you.)
Below is a little something written in honor of my sister who still insists I only exist because she wished for me on her fourth birthday.
Wishes are for sisters and stars
Wishes are made of dust
And so was I
A birthday wish come true
You picked my name
Brought me to school as show and tell
Pencils and brushes made good microphones
For duets with Captain Fantastic
A hundred near-misses
Almost down the laundry chute
Because it looked like Alice’s rabbit hole
My life spent running
To catch up with you
Little sisters get left behind
You can’t come
You’re too little
Big sisters swagger
They’re the bosses
The sheriffs of your town
Hold your sister’s hand
Watch your sister
Indian burns, piggyback rides
Kickball and fireflies
Kicks under tables
Stop looking at me
Doomed and blessed right from the start
How do you love your sister?