I got off of the bus, and walked to the circular lot in front of the station to meet my sister. She and her husband had moved to Massachusetts and they had a baby. The baby was three months old. I had come to visit her when he was a couple of weeks so this was my second visit. This was wonderful. My baby girl had her own baby. My sister is 18 years younger than I am. Same parents. I also have a brother a year and seven months younger, so I am the oldest.
My sister and I get along fabulously. We’re best friends really. We have our own language. But like a dummy I said something about her weight, three months after she had given birth, with hormones still out of whack. As I approached her car, she got out. She…well, she had gained weight… I told her so – doh! I also said that her baby, who was sleeping in the car seat, was chubby — doh! She turned into Linda Blair’s character from the Exorcist. “Fuck you! Fuck you!” She yelled. “You say I’m fat and that my baby’s fat?! Well fuck you! And you smell like an old lady!”
She proceeds to drive us to her house, and I try to apologize, meekly – boy I was scared. Boy had I made a dumb mistake. While the tirade went on for a spell, I wrote, ‘Help me’ on the window at my side for passing drivers to see – just in case. The storm passed. I told her I was stupid and shouldn’t have said that, and we had a nice visit.
But eventually I had to address that hideous thing that she had said to me. I waited a good amount of time to be respectful, not to downplay my insensitivity with regard to criticizing her for gaining weight after having a baby. My offense was bigger. So after a day or so, I said, “I smell like an old lady Debbie, really?” I mean, I was in my forties and still am. I mean it’s kind of old, but it kind of isn’t you know.
My sister is naturally tactful, and I could see that she felt bad about having said this. She said hesitantly, “Well, you know, you wear that perfume…” I didn’t want to put her through this so I gave her some help. “Oh, and my coat smells like the closet, I know, that stale smell. Right? Could that be it?” “Yeahhh,” she chimed, happy that I had said it first and was doing the work for her. “Yeah, like it’s been hanging in the closet for a while. You know” she said. “But you only just said that really because you needed to insult me with something bad enough to counter what I had said to you.” “Right,” she said nodding. “I don’t really, smell like old lady, do I?” “No,” she said shaking her head. Of course I hated to think that what she said was true – but maybe it kinda was.
My sister has a personal trainer and she watches what she eats. She has since slimmed down wonderfully. She looks like a star, and my nephew is a slim trim four year old. I have since learned something about restraint of pen and tongue, sensitivity and tact. I don’t want to incur this wrath again. In 1977 I incurred my brother’s wrath, and he called me a sword chinned bitch.