Day 10: right back where we started from

This post is part of a once-a-day-month-long-blogging-extravaganza with my pals Amanda Hollinger, Monica Wyche, and Ami Worthen.

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.

Induction Into The Half Century Society

 

Brother & sisters, in earlier days.

 

I’d like to take the opportunity to induct my brother, Steve Badman, into the Half Century Society. Yes, dear readers, today, my big brother, my childhood idol who introduced me to the finer things in life (Bugs Bunny, Pink Floyd and Adidas sneakers to name but a few), turns 50.

I spoke to him this morning and neither of us can figure out how this happened.

50! (Insert leg kick here.)

Other than wiping a dog drool-soaked tennis ball on my sister and me and accidentally breaking my arm, Steve has been a model of brotherly love and support.

It couldn’t have been easy growing up as the eldest child and the only son. I’ve thought about that quite a bit since our Dad died a little more than a year ago. At Dad’s wake, an old friend of my Dad’s who I barely remembered, walked right up to Steve and said, “You ARE your Father 50 years ago.” (Clearly he didn’t realize how remarkably OLD Steve already is, but I digress.) Steve handled the moment with his usual sensibility and grace, thanking Dad’s old friend and shaking his hand. Though I know Steve mourns the loss of Dad, too, I also know the grief of a son losing his father is something else entirely.

Since Dad’s death, I have leaned on him more. I ask him for financial advice, pester him with car questions (“It’s making a weird noise.”) and generally view him as my go-to for all big life decisions.

He has, as usual, stepped up to the awesome responsibility of big brother and temporary Dad substitute with great sensibility, poise and patience. He also sends me his favorite articles and cartoons from The New Yorker. (I should really consider renting him out.)

To my brother, I raise a glass and toast your half century of existence and thank you for all that you add to my, much more youthful, existence. I had to do it. Ya maroon!

Sisters

When Dorothy Hamill's hair ruled the world.

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

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
But somehow
Little sisters get left behind
You can’t come
You’re too little

Baby

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

Tickling, pinches
Kicks under tables
Stop looking at me

Doomed and blessed right from the start
How do you love your sister?