Monday, October 22, 2007

Closet Monster

As kids, my older sister and I had this game that we liked to play. Truthfully, she was the one who liked to play it, not me. And, if you want to get technical, it wasn’t really a game, but more like a sport where I was the prey, and my older sister, with huge 80’s bangs in symbolic headdress, was the hunter. She would hide in any feasible spot. Behind doors. Under the bed. In the pantry. In the shower stall. Behind the toychest. Any precarious place available, my sister picked it for hiding, and then waited. And she was so patient. She would be completely silent, not even daring to breathe for what must have seemed like hours at a time. Focused, like a crouching tiger in my dark closet, just waiting for the opportunity amidst the dense jungle of frilly dresses and OshKosh overalls. And then it would come. I would meander adorably into my bedroom, carrying my Malibu Barbie by the hair, maybe a box of crayons tucked under my chubby arm if it had been a particularly busy day, and I would sit my little self down on my Strawberry Shortcake comforter and start to play. I must have looked so cute from my sister’s vantage point, my pink cheeks glowing from playing outside in the fall chill, the evening sun pouring through the window causing my blonde pigtails to shine like spun gold, my innocent third grade multiplication homework lying next to me on the bed. It must have killed her to do what came next.
“RAAAAAHHHH!” She would jump out of my closet, a snarling, teenaged Yeti in a black, sleeveless Quiet Riot t-shirt, screeching at the top of her lungs while clearing the six feet of carpet between the closet and the bed in one leap. She was right in my little face, eyes glowing, teeth bared in a maniacal smile, hair standing on end. She reeked of Hubba Bubba, Aqua Net, and Camel Wides, and she scared the shit out of me.
Had this been an isolated incident, I probably wouldn’t be writing about it right now, however, thinking back, there was probably a solid 5 year period where my sister hunted and scared me in this manner at least two or three times a day. Every. Single. Day. I still have nightmares about it; I still can’t stand horror movies or haunted houses, and I still freak out to the point of tears and convulsions when someone jokingly hides from me in the dark.
In what may be a complete miracle in the science of genetics, my sister and I are now very close. I swear this is because I never told on her no matter how much she tortured me, while our youngest sister would go running to mom or dad (still does) at the slightest hint that something was amiss. I’m 30, and my older sister is 36, and just as we still occasionally wrestle over the remote control, or call each other names, she still finds it profoundly amusing to hide around some dark corner and jump out and scare the crap out me. I still scream and hate it, but at the same time, it makes me nostalgic for the days when being frightened by my sister was my biggest problem, when my main worry was whether or not she would catch me borrowing her pink Guess? sweatshirt, and when I always felt completely safe because someone else was in charge of taking care of me, even when my parents weren’t around.
My sister has become one of my favorite people in the world for about a million reasons. The same humor that compelled her, at age 14, to torture me into submission, is what makes her so hilarious today. The Quiet Riot t-shirt is gone, the Hubba-Bubba has been replaced with Altoids, and the enormous bangs have shrunken to a semi-acceptable height, although somehow the AquaNet has maintained a prominent spot on her bathroom counter (she’s into quantity, not quality) So, while my sister continues her devious ways, in lieu of adulthood, I’m going to go to with the flow, remember the good times, and realize what it means to have someone in my family who actually gets me. So she can jump out and scream in my face anytime; just as in childhood, there will always be a part of me, deep down, that thinks that any attention from her is good attention. The only difference is that now, in the heat of the moment, I’ve been known to drop my cocktail.

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