Look at my sister:
She looks lovely and well adjusted, right? You’d never look at her pretty-pretty face and think, “huh, I bet she’s deeply traumatized”…but you’d be wrong.
Poor Lauren [or Nori as I adorably called her when I was little and couldn’t pronounce her name]. She was such a happy, optimistic child with a bright future, but then 18 months into life she was handed a baby sister and everything in her world shifted.
It would have been fine for Nori had her parents birthed a well behaved, compliant child but that was not to be the case. Instead she was given a little sister who refused to bend to her will.
Lauren, now the middle child, scraped through life making the best of the younger sibling hand she had been dealt. Sure, her baby sister was strong willed and obnoxious, but Lauren had an older brother as well, and sometimes during Tracy’s nap times she could pretend that she was still the youngest and that everything was right with the world. But then that demon child always woke up.
Now Lauren loved 3 things growing up: superhero cartoons targeted for boys, refusing to eat peas, and a giant pink bear. Wait, I’m afraid you have become numb to the word HUGE and therefore glossed over that sentence. Let me clarify: this Bear was GARGANTUAN! Held up to its full height it was taller than Abraham Lincoln even in his stovepipe hat. It was a god among stuffed animals. And also, it was pastel pink.
Lauren loved this Bear. It was like a giant trophy in our room, taunting other children with its greatness as if to say “No matter what you achieve in life, child, you will never have a bear as magnificently cool as Lauren…how does that feel, failure?”
Now time for a necessary tangent: I was born without pigmentation. I believe that technically I should have been marked albino, but since my eyes were blue instead of red I was marked as average to normal on the Judging-Human-Babies-Scale. Yet still, I looked like one of the kids from Village of the Damned, complete with a white-blonde bowl cut that announced to the world “I’m the last child and my parents have stopped caring about hair”.
As a human person with no skin pigmentation I run the risk of bursting into flames every time my china white skin is exposed to the sun or very warm light bulbs. My surfer mother and outdoorsy father didn’t know what to do with such a fragile child. So we would go to the beach and the family would immediately start playing in the water while my mom set about the hour long process of rubbing SPF 1000 on my skin, covering me in full body wetsuits, and parking me under an umbrella. I’m exaggerating…but not really.
I learned many lessons that day. One was that I was probably kidnapped from a family of vampires who are off hiding in a cave, cursing the sun. And two was that SPF was the antidote for my condition.
Whew, tangent over. Back to Lauren.
Lauren was happily coasting through childhood, enjoying life in the safety of that bubble where you just know that everything is sunshine and rainbows all the time. Until…
…until that day…
It started out like any other, but in a few short hours it would end with the destruction of a child’s psyche.
Lauren and I shared a room, because being 18 months apart we were practically twins, just minus the ESP and ability to move things with our minds. She was downstairs, leaving me alone in our room. I sat watching the bear. Now I had seen this bear every day with no issue, but my comprehension of the world had shifted after out beach trip. Thus the wheels of my little developing brain began to turn. Problem solving. It went something like this:
That bear is pink.
Bear’s aren’t supposed to be pink.
Mommy says I have to wear sunscreen so my skin doesn’t turn pink. Or red.
OH MY GOSH THAT BEAR IS BURNING!
I have to save the bear.
When my skin gets pink mommy puts on sunscreen.
The bear needs sunscreen.
I will SAVE THE BEAR!
I am a hero amongst men.
So I went off in search of the sunscreen in order to save the life of this perishing treasure, confident that I was doing my sister the greatest kindness and she would be forever grateful for my intercession. Parades would ensue. Monuments of my heroics would be erected in town. Today would be a day of triumph for all of humanity.
I didn’t find sunscreen. I found butter. My little evolving mind didn’t know the difference.
Minutes later I had spread the entire TUB of butter all across the bear’s pink synthetic fur. I was quite pleased, as I knew everybody else would be as well.
You can imagine my sister’s response when she returned to our room to find her beloved treasure sitting there grinning its bear grin, covered in gobs of yellow, melting butter. Head to toe, I did not miss an inch of the bear’s monstrous height, for I am not a quitter. (Sidenote: I am totally a quitter…it appears that I only follow through on catastrophe).
Tears ensued and parent’s were called in for a ruling. My mother, being the gentle woman that she is, sat me down and tried to logic out why I had done such a thing. I was only too happy to fill her in on my infallible logic.
However, I proved fallible on this occasion.
Lauren was devastated. My mother did her best to clean the poor bear, but he was bigger than our washing machine. He was too big for industrial washing machines. And oh that’s right, he was covered in sticky disgusting butter. He was bathed and returned to Lauren, but we all knew it was terminal. Once glorious tufts of pink fur were now mats of butter crusted knots. Even after multiple washings. The Bear was a goner.
I learned another valuable lesson during this process, adding it to my ever expanding knowledge of the world. That lesson was that butter spoils. It gets sour. The bear turned rancid, and though my sister wept my mother had to intercede before the CDC quarantined our house. The bear had to be disposed of.
Friends, my sister was never the same. The loss was too vast. The mourning was extensive. Also, I began to be monitored much more closely.
A little piece of my sister died that day, and that piece was her faith in humanity.
Personally, I blame global warming.