Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Rosemary

I have only one sister. Her name is Nancy and she is 6 years older than me.
Nancy never liked me. Our rocky relationship began when I was but a mere 2 months old. She wrapped me in a blanket and put me out with the trash. Looking at the bright side, she did at least wrap me in a blanket. She took the lid of the can turned it over and placed me on top. A neighbor putting out his trash found me and brought me around to the baby sitter. Miss Nancy recieved a butt spanking for her efforts. This did not weaken her resolve to be rid of me. When I was nine months old she put a stray cat in the play pen with me , then, covered the playpen with a quilt. It was a brief battle. The cat won. My screams brought the sitter running. She released the cat and doctored my many scratches. Another butt spanking was applied to Miss Nancy's butt. Alas, she was NOT detered. Time rocked on until I was two. She walked me down to the corner bus stop, handed me two quaters and told me, "when the bus comes, tell the driver to take you to where Momma works". The bus arrived, the driver got off the bus , asked me where I lived. I said I didn't know. Fortunately for me, he knew who I was, and who Momma was, since she rode his bus every morning at 6 AM, on her way to work. He placed me in the seat right behind him. When we arrived at our appointed destination, he parked the bus, and took me into the cafe where Momma worked. I can remember Momma saying she damn near had a heart attack when that big black bus driver walked through the door of Vic's Cafe with me in his arms. He explained to her that I had 'somehow' found my way to the bus stop and requested to be taken to my Mother. Momma thanked him profusely, then took me to the back of the cafe, where the other waitresses took turns keeping an eye on me untill her shift ended. Nancy not only recieved yet another butt whuppin for that one, but was grounded for a month as well. This did NOT improve my lot with her, nor did it dissuade her determination to do away with a pesky younger sister. I made it to the ripe old age of four before she made her next attack. Angry at having to give me a bath, she plopped me down into a tub of scalding hot water. My cries of agony brought my grandparents running, MawMaw grabbed me out of the tub. That was the only time I ever saw my Grandfather strike anyone. He backhanded Nancy and then grabbed me and ran outside to the water hose. He ran cold water over me until the burning stopped. He then wrapped me in a towel and took me in the house. I cried myself to sleep. My Mother was in the hospital giving birth to my brother James, at the time so there was no butt whippin. After that, no one dared to leave me alone with her again. Which I am sure suited her just fine. I too had learned my lesson. I loved her from afar, but I steered clear of my big sister. Naive child that I was I never really understood the full extent of her hate for me. Until, the summer I was 14.

Always the wild and adventureous one. Nancy decided at the tender age of 16, to improve her lot in life. She ran away from home and married herself a 'damn yankee'. He was twice her age. There were whispered conversations about and 'annulment'. In the end, it was decided it was best to 'let it be'. Nancy was a handful an I suspect Momma decide to let Bill ( the aforementioned 'damn yankee') finish raising her. Lucky him.

After a few years, an many miles apart, things seemed to have gotten better between us. At least "I" thought so. Well, she wasn't trying to kill me or have me kidnapped anymore. THAT part was better. Anyway, the summer I was 14 she and Bill graciously invited me to spend the summer with them. Possibly I looked like a good babysitter. So off I went to Ohio. It was exciting, and I was having a great time. Bill's brother Bob had two daughters, Rosemary who was 16 and Bobby Anne who was 12. I fit right in with them. The back of Bill and Nancy's apartment complex faced a baseball field, and several nights a week they had games. Rosemary and Bobby Anne would come over and we would go and watch the games together. One Friday night they all arrived and Rosemary had a shopping bag with her. Nancy ask what "what's that". Rosemary said, "some things for Wanda". She took me upstairs and laid out all the clothes she had brought. "I am sick of seeing you wear those shorts that are too big for you and tee shirts that look like they belong to your grandaddy. We are gonna fix you up." And so she did. As I tried on the clothes she'd brought I was stunned. Who was that cute girl in the mirror? We finally settled on a pair of white denim shorts and a pink halter top that had ruffles around the bottom. She brushed my hair until it shone and put a pink ribbon in it. When we came bouncing down the stairs some 45 minutes later, I heard my brother-in-law whistle. Bob, his wife Mable, and Nancy all sat there, speechless I suppose,staring at me. I think I grew up right before their eyes. Rosemary grabbed me by the arm, pulling me toward the door, before anyone could say anything and said "We're going to the game". Out the door we ran. Across the backyard to the ball field we ran, breathless with excitement. Just as we reached the edge of the field, I looked down and realized I still had on my old flip flops. I stopped ,and told them I wanted to go back and put on my tennis shoes. "Okay, but hurry" Rosemary said. I ran back to the apartment. Just as I was about to open the screen door, I overheard Mable say to my sister. "I gather you don't care for your little sister very much", Nancy's rely was cold and icy, "I hate her. I have hated her since the day my Mother the little brat home from the hospital". I stood there, unable to move. I felt like I had been punched in the stomach. I turned and ran. Back across the yard to the ballfield. Once again at the edge of the field I stopped. I realized I didn't want anyone to see me crying, so I just sat down in the grass and cryed. After a bit, Rosemary came running up to me and said "I thought you were going to change your shoes", when she saw I was crying so she sat down beside me, "What happend" she said. As I tried to wipe away the tears , I replied, a dejected, heartbroken "nothing". She grabbed me and said "Wanda what happened to you? Did someone hurt you? You tell me right now, what happened." I started crying, again, then , I told her what I had over heard. She laughed, hugged me to her and said "Oh honey, of course she hates you. Have you looked at yourself? Have you looked at her? I mean geez she's skinny, homely and has that dull lanky hair, and all those freckles." "You are cute as a button, have a nice body, and beautiful eyes, and hair. Of course she hates you. The homly's always hate us pretty girls. That's why we have to stick together." "But she's my sister". I cried, "an I love HER"! "Yeah, I know, but it will get better" she replied as she hugged me again.

She was wrong about that. It didn't. But, thanks to Rosemary, it was the best summer of my young life.

Rosemary was drop dead georgous (Annette Funichello georgous), and the apple of her Daddy's eye. For her 16th birthday he had gotten her a brand new Mustang convertable. Red, candy apple red, with white leather interior. Gawd, that car was purty. On Saturday nights she'd fetch me, in a way that only Rosemary could have gotten away with. Downtown we'd go. To 'cruise the A&W'. Actually we'd sit parked at the A&W, drink pepsi and flirt. Yes even way back then Pepsi was my drink of choice.

Rosemary taught me many things that summer. How to giggle and flirt. How to be a 'fun girl' without being a 'bad girl'. She taught me that kissing was fun and, that a boy could be allowed to brush his hand or arm against your breast, or near your butt, but he was never allowed to grab or touch. Should he do so, a slap would be rendered. She taught me to never let my lips promise what I was not prepared to give. To always stop the kisses before the boy got so hot he didn't understand "NO" meant "NO". She taught me how to wear just the 'right' amount of makeup, and perfume. She introduced me to tampons!! She taught me how to handle men. Give them just enough to keep them interested but not enough to comprimise my morals. For a Northern girl, Rosemary had a lot of Southern wisdom and charm.

She was the big sister I had dreamed of. She was my first 'grownup' woman friend.

1 Comments:

Blogger Wanda said...

Love this post! Wish I'd had a friend like Rosemary....

11:02 AM  

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