Today’s prompt: Do you resemble anybody in your family of origin? How do you feel about that?
This will shock nobody, but I was a serious tomboy growing up. I lived in over-sized t-shirts, knee-length soccer shorts and dirty Sambas.
I remember staring at my own chubby little face in the mirror at the hair salon, a Velcro smock fastened tight around my neck, restricting my airways. I begged the stylist to cut my hair shorter.
The stylist glanced over at my mother, silently asking her permission, scissors frozen in the air above my head. I watched my mother’s reflection shake its head sternly. No.
There’s a fine line between adorable bob and gender-confused child.
I contemplated jerking my head suddenly, forcing the stylist to make a mistake. The kind of mistake only clippers could fix.
“I’m so sorry,” she would say to my sobbing mother as she buzzed my head clean. “You poor, poor thing, having a little girl with no hair. It must be so difficult for you.”
I didn’t jerk my head.
I looked exactly like her. I still do, I guess. Dark hair, dark eyes, a complexion that transforms ultraviolet rays into a pretty reddish-brown color. The color of clay. If only I were made of clay, she could have molded me into whatever she wanted. I could have been her living doll, pinched and twisted into a beautiful girl with pouty lips, a tiny waist and an adorable bob that framed her face just right.
My dad is Swedish, and what one might refer to as a towhead. Freckles and blue eyes and freckles and two thick yellow caterpillar eyebrows and a few more freckles. My sisters both took after him, with heavy blankets of blonde hair, light eyes and light skin.
I stand between them, the middle sister, and look like I don’t quite belong. They are matching bookends and I am the old novel in between, with pages ripped and the cover missing.
Today’s prompt: Which of your parents’/grandparents’ behavioral traits did you inherit?
Did you know that I can’t wink? I know it sounds crazy, but I just can’t do it. I can wink with both eyes simultaneously, but I think at that point it’s just called blinking so it’s not all that special. My little sister can’t wink, either. We both somehow missed the winking gene. It is just hysterical* watching us try.
very little no discernible musical ability. I love music, and obviously I have superior taste (ha), but I can’t whistle or sing or dance or do anything really that requires sounding pleasant or moving rhythmically. I tried to learn guitar once, but that didn’t really stick. My dad says I’m tone deaf. Sometimes I’ll say to Sean, “You know that one song? The one that goes do-do-do doo-doo wop-wop do-do?” and he looks at me like I have seven heads because the sounds coming out of my mouth are meaningless. I can’t really whistle, either. This is all despite the fact that my dad plays guitar pretty well, as does my older sister. My aunt plays the piano (and god knows what other instruments) and has an amazing singing voice. I have a cousin who went to Berklee College of Music and is out in LA making it big as we speak. I guess I missed that elusive musical gene, too.
I hit the jackpot on the depression gene, though. I also have one of those addictive personalities, the kind that drives me to do everything in excess. I’m really good at getting drunk. I excel at eating far more than any human should. I am also a champion chain smoker.
And I’m pretty skilled at blaming genetics for my own issues! Shirking responsibility is my Number One Talent. Well, that and writin’ good.
*It’s really not that hysterical, so stop asking me to demonstrate.
I had two best friends growing up, but the truth is, I was closer to K than I was to M. And M knew it.
K and I were the kind of friends who read each other’s diaries. We just handed them over, literally splitting ourselves open like books for someone to peer inside. And that’s how I found out K’s parents didn’t like me. I read it in her diary.
I cried, and she cried, too. She tried to explain this weird dynamic, justify it, but she was only 11, and I was only 11, so we didn’t really understand what we were talking about. I still don’t really understand it today.
I was a good kid. I was smart and funny and kind and all the things parents like in their children’s best friends, but I was also the third wheel. I came onto the scene after M and K were already best friends for years and years, since diapers and pre-school and matching outfits, and maybe her parents just preferred it that way. I upset the fragile status quo.
We went for a walk around K’s neighborhood. The houses around us were giant, mansion-like things made of stone and brick and crawling with ivy. Shiny Porsches and Cadillacs were parked out front like Christmas tree ornaments sparkling in the sun.
She put her arm around my shoulder. I remember knowing in that moment that we were turning into little adults, little tiny adults who have problems and disagreements and fucking life issues, but we couldn’t do anything about them except cry and hold each other a little bit.
Because what could we do? We were just little tiny adults surrounded by expensive cars.
Today’s prompt: Tell us about your childhood best friend. Are you still friends?