Sunday, May 15, 2011

I have my two sisters. I'm good.

I grew up in a house full of women: my mother and two sisters. Our synchronized menstrual cycles coupled with our family history for hormonal mayhem had my father taking suspiciously long strolls during our monthly cat fights. As our claws would be unleashed, so would my dad don his walking shoes.

“Where are you going, dad?” we would ask, hoping he would fetch us something chocolaty to sooth our screaming uteruses between cat fights.

“I’m a...I’m...” he’d stammer struggling to get his shoes on. “I have to buy some groceries.”

Our hormonal bitchiness is where the similarities end. I am blessed to be the middle daughter between two strong women who, according to many friends, look like my twins but are so incredibly different.

My older sister, Christina, can be summed up in two words: exact and determined.

It was moments before my niece Kai was to be unleashed into this world, and Christina decided to baptize the occasion with a good dose of drugs. Before she drifted off into Epidural Land, I asked her if she needed anything.

“There’s just one thing you can do for me,” said Christina, her eyes at half mast.

“Sure! Anything,” I replied, ever the eager birthing assistant.

“Can you go into my purse?” I obliged. I rifled through the pockets as she sleepily explained further. “Go into the front pocket and...”

My hands started sneaking into said pocket.

Suddenly she was wide awake, looking at me intently into my eyes ensuring that every word was heard. “Can you get the comb and brush your hair because it’s messy!” With that she said her peace and was out like a light. With a scowl, I fixed my offensive hair and waited for the kid to be born.

Another story, and perhaps one she may not recall herself: There were these little Assholes in Training who made it their life’s purpose to knock down snowmen, kick small children in the head etc. You know the type. Anyway...they would often come by our Brampton townhouse and tease my sister. About anything. Her teeth were crooked. We only had one pair of roller-skates. Our clothes were donated from the church. Whatever.

One day, they came by to – big surprise – make fun of our snow fort that we were building in our front yard. I was so quiet back then, I just listened while the Assholes in Training said their shit, then continued to build the fort as per Christina’s blueprint (i.e. picture drawn in the snow). But Christina had another plan. The fort was demolished and she decided we were going to build a network of snow tunnels in this massive mound of snow, the likes of which have never been seen by anyone this side of Bramalea. Fuelled by nothing more than Liptons Chicken Noodle, we began tunnelling through the snow pile. For hours. And hours. I remember having snow in my So-en undies, snow in my collar, snow in between my toes. But we did it. Those Assholes were so amazed they never knocked it down.

It’s this determination that has made her the successful co-owner of East Village Yoga and the number one sugar waxer in Durham region (which means, of course she has seen the vaginas of every woman east of Victoria Park). For the last accomplishment we are most proud.


When Charlaine was born, my dad arrived at my school in his leisure suit to tell me the baby had come. Charlaine squirmed inside the incubator with scratches all over her face and one eye closed. She was like a wee pirate. While the nurses could remedy the scratches with socks over her tiny fists, they couldn’t get her other eye to open.

I spend the next several minutes singing to Charlaine a song about opening her eyes. It included complex choreography. I believe it was the song’s improvised lyrics that made her open them. That or she really wanted me to shut the hell up. Not sure.

In the first few months of her life, she sat there watching me, her birthmark on her forearm moving to and fro while I interpretatively danced to St. Elmo’s Fire on the radio.

Cut to the eve of her 27th birthday. She, a soon-to-be hairstylist, is cutting my hair on the porch of our parent’s house.

“I need to sweep the clippings to the side of the porch so that the racoons don’t shit near the dryer vent.” Classy.

I can see her birth mark, the same birth mark on the arm of that wee pirate I knew so long ago moving to and fro as she makes my lesbo haircut look less Slacks and more Henhouse. But now, she is a woman. She is the proud mother of two, partner to an amazingly loving man, and hairstylist extraordinaire who imparts, with the ghetto flava that only someone from Scarborough can do, the simplest tidbits of wisdom.

For example:

After my heart was broken Charlaine’s response to this was to tell me “She wasn’t hot enough for you. Find someone hotter.”

When I told Charlaine I couldn’t hold my drink she said “You have to look into that. Don’t embarrass yourself. Buy yourself some booze and get started.”

The wisest phrase Charlaine has ever uttered was when she talked about her lack of friends outside of her immediate family. “I have my two sisters,” she said before taking a swig of beer. “I’m good.”

I couldn’t agree more.

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