- My brother and I shared a room growing up. Holly's room was down the hall. Her bed was this strange kind of loft bed with drawers underneath. It was raised up not quite to the height of a bunk bed. The weird thing was that the drawers did not fill the whole width - or depth - of the bed. There was this opening under the bed on the left side that was about three feet wide. And there was about a foot and a half of space behind the drawers. I think this was intended to be storage space. My mom hung a blanket to cover the space because it was scary. When she was younger, my sister worried a monster was under her bed. As she got a little older, she was worried I was under her bed. That's because I frequently would hide in that space and jump out at her. She got to be smart and check behind the blanket, but I started squirming back behind the drawers. So I still could jump out at her. I was a jerk.
- The motif of me hiding and jumping out at Holly was a pretty common one. To get upstairs, we had a recessed stairwell. You couldn't see into the stairs until you were almost in front of it, especially if a person was to hide a few steps up. Needless to say, there were numerous times when Holly would be strolling through the playroom only to have me leap out at her.
- When we were older, my parents had closets built in the upstairs hallway. There were two large sets to house all of my clothes and Holly's clothes. Then there was a short set in the middle where our coats were. (You know where this is going.) I would hide in the closets and jump out at her. I would mix it up, though - my closet, her closet, the short closet. It is really a miracle she wasn't a nervous wreck for her whole life due to all the jumping out at her.
- Oh yeah, I also would hide in the shower and jump out at her.
- Holly wasn't always the innocent victim in our dealings. When we were growing up, all three of the kids would have to ride in the back seat of our parents' station wagon. As we got older, this became a tighter squeeze. My brother would have to put his arm back behind us to fit. One day he flicked me in the nose, for no good reason. It made this weird hollow PLOONK sound. From that day on, Holly would frequently flick me in the car to mimic that PLOONK sound.
- After Holly got older and no longer fit in her weird loft bed, she moved downstairs into a different room. Of course, I still needed to find ways to torment her. The door out of her room opened into the bathroom. And there was a door out of the bathroom right next to that door - and they both opened inward for some reason. You could actually leave the bathroom door open a little, so when the person coming out of the bedroom tried to open the door, it would just slam against the bathroom door and not open. Yes, I did this.
- One day she was reading in her room with the doors closed. I was in the bathroom and for no good reason started pounding on the door. I decided to re-enact a scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. I leaned against the door and screamed in a British accent, "Open the door! Open the door! In the name of God, open the door!!!" So she did. Right into my nose. This was one of three times my siblings broke, dislocated, or generally screwed up my nose.
- One day in the backyard, we were playing "soccer." In reality, it was us kicking the ball around and me running up the score against Holly. She had to defend the entrance to the alleyway next to our house that was part of our yard. I had to defend some random spot on the other side. The ball mostly was in her half of the yard. I was being an arrogant turd. She was getting irritated. Our backyard was not in great shape, mind you. There were some big dips and holes due to an old septic tank that had collapsed. I knew about these dips, since I was the one who had to pick up the dog doo doo. So, at one point, Holly pointed at one hole and said, "Don't step in that hole there." Being ultra-confident of myself and running high on the thrill of thrashing her, I really snottily replied, "What?!? THIS hole?" And then I stepped in it and went to kick the ball past her. My left knee snapped backwards and hyperextended like it had been hit by a linebacker. This led to my first arthroscopic knee surgery when I was 13.
- I know I was a big ole punk. One our favorite stories to tell is this one. (Holly likes to tell it to show how rotten I was. I like to tell it to show how sneaky I was.) Holly was sitting upstairs in the hallway, innocently reading a book. As you came up the stairs, you could peek up into the hall without being seen from above. I snuck up and peeked over. I had a handful of goldfish crackers in my hand. I launched the fish up over the upstairs handrail right onto Holly's head and yelled, "ROACHES!!!" I didn't realize just how brilliant this was. As they cascaded down onto her, the salt on the outside of the crackers felt rough and scratchy. And the combination of the smooth fish body and pointy tail must have felt like bodies and legs. She leapt up in the air screaming and trying to slap them off of her. I bolted down the stairs, laughing hysterically. (Like I am now typing this.) She came tearing down the stairs to tell on me. "DAVID THREW GOLDFISH ON ME AND SAID THEY WERE ROACHES!" I, of course, couldn't let this stand. "I THOUGHT SHE MIGHT WANT A SNACK!!!" My mom just looked at me and asked why I yelled they were roaches. I didn't know how to answer this. Holly has never forgiven me for this.
- Holly telling on me also became a common motif. As we became teenagers and I started driving, I had to often take Holly with me in the car. My mom would often ask me about specific things that happened while I was driving - like if I had pulled into a parking spot too fast or sped on a road. It turns out that my sister would tell my mom everything I did wrong while driving. This drove me nuts. One day we were driving down Parker Avenue on a wet road. Some idiot in front of me cut me off and I had to slam on the brakes. My car fishtailed wildly until it finally stopped. We both were terrified. But my first thought was to look over at Holly and say, "I didn't do anything wrong. That happens sometimes. Don't go telling mom I was driving crazy." She did anyway. Fortunately my mom defended me that time.
- In high school, I never had a girlfriend. There were girls I liked, but it never amounted to anything. (I was a great friend, though. Grrrr.) One day in Spanish class, someone was goofing around and doing that whole mature "you like so and so" thing. They said to this girl (ironically named Heather), "You like David." She, naturally, said, "No I don't." Then she added this stunner. "Besides, he has a girlfriend." This came as a surprise to me. "Huh? Who told you that?" She responded, "John Bishop told me that. He said he saw you two together in the sports store he works at." I thought back to the one time I had been in that store. Oh man. "Uh, that was my sister. Please make sure everyone knows that I am not dating my sister."
- There are so many other little things I remember - her refusal to say milk in Spanish, playing My Little Pony with her, her love of strawberry cake, Heather sticking her face in a cake with Holly egging her on, officiating her wedding. It is tough to condense 35 years.
We certainly had our ups and downs over the years. As we got older, we drifted apart and then got closer. And then drifted apart and then got closer. And then drifted apart. Now, we are closer than we have been in a very long time. She has a wonderful son that it just amazing and cool. And she's been through so much over the years - a lot of it very very bad. And, now, it seems pretty stupid to let minor things keep us apart. When you fear for your sister's life, it kind of gives you perspective. I know that I was far from the perfect brother and she was not perfect either. But, honestly, I would never have wanted anyone else. We had a great time together. And I am thrilled to be walking through the era of parenthood with her. I am proud of her for being strong enough to make it through the dark days. And I can't wait to see what happens in the future with all of us.
So, happy birthday, little sister. I love you so much and hope you have a great day. I hope this next year is great - and healthier than last year. It's been a blast to have you as a sister and a friend.