My Friend’s Dad Is A What?
I am an only child. Some may say this is a lonely role, but I disagree. Granted, there are tons of reasons that I would love to have a brother or sister. For one, a sibling would take some of the heat off of me with my family. Being the only daughter/granddaughter/niece is a ton of pressure. Secondly, if I had a brother or sister, they would eventually screw up worse than me and make me look like the Golden Child. That would be nice.
Then there have been the hard times in life when I thought a sibling would bring me comfort. On the two times when cancer came after my mother, it would have been nice to have someone there with me who I could lean on for support. When she eventually lost that second battle, I wished that I had a sibling to help me balance the weight of grieving, funeral planning, IRS ass-kicking, and other bullshit. But I’ve never been lonely. I’ve been blessed with wonderful friends who may as well have been sisters. Maybe we weren’t sisters in blood, but I know that we would do anything for each other.
Now, there are also advantages to being the only child. You don’t have to share. There is no favoritism. Your parents kind of have to like you; there really are no other options. There is no sibling rivalry. No one telling on you. No older sibling bossing you around. And most importantly no one who is around you 24/7 that will sit on your head and fart.
Besides, I didn’t need brothers or sisters. I had cousins. My great aunt and uncle had four children. My oldest cousin was Harry, but I didn’t really spend much time with him. He was busy and far too old to play with me. He was already into girls, sports, and other things high school boys are into. Then there was my cousin Elizabeth, who was so beautiful that she was almost painful to look at. She always looked up to my mom and they remained close until the day my mother died. Finally, there were the twins. Mark and Mike. These two were much closer to my age. Mike hung out with me from time to time, but he always had girlfriends and was too busy to have some kid following him around. Mark, on the other hand, was a different story. I was Mark’s mascot.
Mark had a lot of friends and girlfriends, but he always let me hang out. It made me feel so cool. He never made me feel like a pesky kid. He actually liked having me around and he was the same as having a big brother. Better even, because I didn’t have to take him home, I didn’t have to share my parent’s affection, and he wasn’t the boss of me. He was perfect.
I remember when acid rock had first come out. Mark had his record player all set up and couldn’t wait to play me his new records. “Stacy come check this out,” he said. We went into his room and he put on the record and I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. This was Satan’s music! I had grown up in an incredibly religious family and for him to be playing that record in my aunt’s house meant only one thing: We were going straight to Hell. Did his mother know he had this? In her house? I felt like such a bad kid. That’s when I knew. I was officially hanging out with a bad boy. I was the adopted little sister of a bad boy. I had listened to acid rock. I was dangerous.
Mark also let me hang out with him and his friends in the garage where my aunt and uncle had a pool table. I’m pretty sure his friends thought that hanging around with a 7 year old was a buzz kill but I informed them, “Don’t worry guys, I’ve listened to the Devil’s music too. I’m one of you now.”
If it sounds too good to be true, it is. There’s always a price for acceptance. Mark was a notorious prankster, which meant that I was always his “test victim.” Like when I would be sitting by myself in my aunt’s den on the floor, watching television and otherwise minding my own business, when Mark would sneak up behind me, grab me, sit on my head and fart. God, I hated that. Then there was the time when my mom let me watch Friday the 13th. First off, I was just a little kid. What the hell was she thinking? After the movie she told me to go take a bath before bed. Never one to miss an opportunity, Mark had snuck down the hall away from where the adults could see or hear him, crouched outside the bathroom door and whispered “Ch-ch-ch-ch…ah-ah-ah-ah…kill-kill-kill-kill…” I screamed my head off until my mom heard me and yelled, “Damn it Mark! Leave her alone!” I didn’t sleep for 2 weeks.
My parents were divorced and my mom worked full time. So I spent a lot of time at my aunt and uncle’s house and had made some friends in the neighborhood. One of the little girls down the street had asked me if I wanted to spend the night at her house. Her parents and my aunt and uncle had known each other for many years so my mom agreed I could spend the night. I was very excited. My mom dropped me off and Mark opened the door.
“My mom told me you’re going to Marie’s house for a slumber party.”
“Yes, she asked me if I wanted to,” I told him.
“I wouldn’t do it if I were you,’ he said, whispering and looking around like he was telling me a really big secret.
“Why not?” I whispered back.
“Have you ever met her dad?” he asked. Come to think of it, I hadn’t.
“No, why?” I asked, with eyes as large as saucers.
“The reason you haven’t seen him around is because he just got out of jail.”
“What for?” I asked him.
“Muuuuurder,” he told me in his best Vincent Price voice.
“Wh-wh-who did he kill?” I gasped.
“Oh just a couple of little girls. You’ll be fine. Have fun,” he told me as he patted me on the head and walked away.
“Are you ready?” my aunt asked as she came around the corner from the den.
“I…I…I…,” was all I could seem to muster.
“Come on, we don’t want you to be late,” she told me.
My aunt walked me down to Marie’s house. She knocked on the door and Marie’s mother answered. Oh good, she’s not dead, I thought to myself. Marie came around the corner and she too was alive. They invited me in and I quickly checked the house.
“Is your dad here?” I asked, eyes darting.
“No…” Marie responded, with a funny look in her eye.
“Good,” I said. As my aunt was leaning over to tell me to behave my self, I was screaming, “Please help me!” with my eyes. She just gave me a look, kissed me goodbye, and left me in the house of murder. After a while, I still hadn’t seen any blood on the walls, and I hadn’t stumbled across any dead bodies. Honestly, by the 3rd chocolate chip cookie, I was feeling pretty confident about my survival. Marie and I watched some TV, did a lot of talking, and finally went to bed.
Marie fell asleep quickly but I just lay there starting up at the ceiling for what seemed like hours. And that’s when I heard it. The front door opened. Someone was in the house.
“Marie,” I whispered, “Someone is in the house.”
“Relax, it’s just my dad,” she told me. Relax? There is a murderer in the house and she’s telling me to relax! Is she smoking crack?
“I have to go home now,” I demanded.
“I have to go home now,” I said. It was all I could say. I got up, grabbed all my stuff and left quietly so as not to wake the murderer down the hall.
I walked back to my aunt and uncle’s house in the middle of the night in my nightgown, barefoot, with my bag in my hand. When I got there I rang the bell. It took a couple of rings before my uncle finally answered. He opened the door and there I was: 7 years old, in a nightgown, crying and terrified for my life. He took me inside and I told him what had happened. He calmly told me that Marie’s father is a doctor, and that I had never seen him because he’s always on call and sometimes works odd hours. He took me into the guest room, put me into one of the twin beds, wiped my tears away, gave me a hug and told me to get some sleep. Then he shut the door and that’s when I heard it.
So I may not have any brothers or sisters, but I don’t need them. I have cousins.
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