Today is the birthday of my great and glorious sister, who teaches us all not to hide our evil under a bushel.  (Ed. note:  To be wicked, one must also be witty.)  Here is how phone conversations between us often begin:

HAVEN:  Hello?

MELINDA:  Shut up.  What are you doing?


MELINDA:  I asked what are you doing.

HAVEN:  You told me to shut up.

MELINDA:  Will you ever learn to let go of things? 

Two nights ago she called to discuss that swimmer no one will shut up about, and she was all jiggy about how close his race had been.  She said, “He’s amazing to watch, and I just love him, he’s so funny looking, and he’s nice to his mama, she was a single mother, there are sisters, too, I think, and he’s double-jointed in his shoulders and his ankles, like a gorilla dolphin.”  I said, “Whoa, there – I can’t abide the phrase ‘gorilla-dolphin.”   Melinda said, “Oh, I’m sorry Princess Fairydustfragileflower.  How about ‘big monkey fish’?”  I started to get her with something I knew she’d hate (miniature psychotic clowns skittering around in her kitchen), when she said, “I’m done, say goodbye.”  I said goodbye, she hung up.

This is a trick she loves, too.  Last night I called and her sweet husband who is much, much too nice for her, answered and I was trying to tell him how sorry I was about a loss in his family.  In the background Melinda was yelling, “Is that my sister?  Give me the phone.  HEY, is that Haven?  Give me the phone.”  He finally gave up and turned the phone over to her, and there was much jocularity and wickedness, and I said, “Will you please tell Wayne that I’m thinking of him, and I thought Connie was a very fine person?”  She said, “HEY WAYNE!  Haven said she doesn’t give a crap about you and she’s glad your sister’s dead.”  And then to me, “I’m done, say goodbye.” 

Thank you stars and all the powers that be that Melinda was born, and with minimal birth defects, or else we would live in a bleak and earnest world so boring I might activate my serial killer gene just to have something to do.  As it is, every day is some sort of weird

emergency, including the last time I stayed at her house, and when I returned from visiting Beth I was told I couldn’t use the bathroom because there was a skunk in it fighting viciously with the barn cats.  I made my daughter go check it out and she came back pale and in shock and said, “Those were ungodly sounds.”  I said, “Duh, a skunk is a WEASEL.”  Then I made her leave all her clothes and shoes outside the camping trailer we were staying because, wow, that smell gets on a person FAST.

I leave you with the definitive photograph of Melinda, Most Majestic.  This IS her.  Trust me, if a picture can be entirely free of dishonesty, it looks like this:

Published in: on August 18, 2008 at 8:36 am  Comments (30)  



    Let me be the first to wish you a Happy Birthday! We’ve never met, but I have read so much about you that I feel like I kinda know you…or, as we say in Hoosierland, kinder know ya.

  2. I kinder know ya from that time in Warshington — at least I reckon it was you. Might have been your brother, y’uns have a strong family resentments.

  3. Melinda…

    Happy birthday! Haven, I love your blogs!!!

    Give Kat a kiss for me!

    Love you all.

  4. warshinton, smarshinton…you’re right, could have been my brother…the big ‘un…people say we take after each other ‘cept he’s bald. people mix us up all the time. specially when we were striped shirts. we were twins and when they separated us, i went for the hair and took the brains…i think i got the better deal. now he goes around sayin’ he got the testosterone and i got the hair…either way…i’d rather have the hair.

  5. i feel an instant kinship with Melinda. Tell her this — what I do sometimes to telephone callers who are annoying me (friends, family) is I say, “Well, this is what I think of THAT.” and then I hang up. It’s really fun and shaves time off one’s day. As a child, I used to torture my brother my throwing a Super ball as hard as I could onto the floor so it would bounce back directly into his eye. It’s a kind of sibling pool,without the bother of a pool table or pool cues. oh we LOVE US SOME MELINDA. HAPPY BIRTHDAY DUDE.

  6. Melinda has a virtual encyclopedia of torture, all of it invented and tested on me. Now that I weigh more than 14 pounds, we are both alpha-females on the verge of catastrophe, and that has given us a sublime relationship. In reality it’s hoo-ha, but between two people as similar as Melinda and me, it’s all mutual deterence, all the time. We share a porous border, and we each have full nuclear capability, and thus we never, ever fight. Our love for one another is boundless and pure, because if one got her bitch on and let loose on the other? Goodbye, Big Blue Planet. We hardly knew ye. I consider us Pillar 1 and Pillar 2 of Great Wisdom. Oh, and also I just like her better than other people.

  7. Aunt Julie! A birthday shout-out from Ohio! I will happily kiss Kat for you, which will cause her to say, “You are surely not actually kissing me.” I maul that child, I tell you. Love to all.

  8. Happy Birthday Melinda! From the descriptions I have read I wouldn’t mind having you as a big sister, minus all the pinching of course.

  9. If Melinda had a Facebook page I would poke her, and then buy her stupid things she can’t use.

  10. If Melinda were running for president, I would ruin her chances with my shenanigans.

  11. If Melinda asked to share my Disney Princesses coloring book and my box of 78 crayons, I would say yes. But first I would remove Cornflower Blue and hoard it for myself.

  12. Well….thank you to all of the “sweet” people who sent out the big birthday greetings….and then to the one that should never never put pictures of her sister in sad positions anywhere where actual people see them…I pick up the gauntlet…I have many many pictures of the fetching beauty doing many things that should bring a pretty penny and many blogs and comments….nose picking….bottom scratching….sticky up hair….strange things on her head…giant glasses from the days of Sally Jessee Raphel….the one eyed sleeping position…oh that’s a good one…I could go on and on and on…but instead I need to commence to figuring out just how to get them on this site…plus, I’ve got some birthday things to do.

  13. Oh sorry, I forgot to add this: It was just one little skunk and it was hungry and the cat food was right there…and the smell didn’t last more than a week or so and at least it wasn’t fighting with the raccoon that’s not the least bit afraid of us or the skunk or the cats…and…
    I worship my sister and even though I did torture her just a bit and pinch when she misbehaved…truly…I’d walk through fire, mow down what was standing and face whatever force necessary…chew off my own arm and then beat them to death with the bloody stub to protect her skinny arse. That’s some big love folk!!!!!


  15. Melinda
    Yep thats some big ass love.

    However “the one eyed sleeping position” picture would make me laugh till tears came I am sure So here is the deal Melinda you can email me at michaelterryjr@hotmail.com and I will provide instructions for you so that you can get a link to that picture on this site hehe
    And remember you are still under the protection of MOM
    ( Michigan Omish Militia)

    Oh Haven stop it. I still love you but I think I love Melinda more 😉

  16. Melinda, I think we need to see some of those pictures of Haven. It could be a real battle of the blackmail-worthy pictures. We need a picture-off. Meanwhile, forget that middle finger action ~ I couldn’t help but notice the lovely gal on the right, holding her pinkie up like the Queen of Sheba as she readies to guzzle her Bud. Is she the image of femininity or what?

  17. Before this day is over it could very well be the BEST birthday I’ve ever had!!! Oh IT REEEAAAALLLLYYYY could!

  18. HAHA I hope So

  19. Okay, I just read this while my 9 year old was in the room and he said “why are you laughing Mom?” and when he wouldn’t take no for an answer- as in “it’s not something funny for kids bla bla bla” I said “okay you know my favorite writer who wrote the book about Oreville and the book you are reading right now, this is a conversation between her and Melinda, her older sister” and I read what Melinda told her husband you said and he laughed so hard I had to read it to him three times and that, Haven Kimmel, is why I love you.

  20. Okay, I love everyone again! I’m drinking coffee . . . and, oh I know. It is no longer Melinda’s birthday, and we can return to our regular programming, which is identical to Melinda’s birthday programming. Webmeister suggested last night that I periodically have Melinda as a guest blogger, and I told him if he gets involved in any business like Our Gang he’ll have to pop a cap in someone and learn how to play ROUGH.

    Once when I was about six years old Melinda sat on my chest and tried to recreate Chinese Water Torture. It went on until, in essence, my lungs collapsed and she had to use the bicycle pump to reinflate me. Do recall that she was sixteen years old at the time, old enough to have had her first baby if she was a Spears girl.

  21. I don’t really ever comment on blogs but have to on this one because truly, without it, my days would be darker than nighttime in a coal mine. Haven, I have bought over 10 copies of A Girl Named Zippy because I keep giving mine away and then no one will give it back as they say then laughter would be out of their world. My latest is doing the same with Iodine- I have already purchased and given away 5 copies.

    But I think I might hate you now for writing that book because now I will never be able to read another book except maybe the Solace of Leaving Early, which I’ve already read. I finished Iodine and wept because I have been ruined by your brilliance.

    My favorite Melinda story is the one in which she is torturing your brother by not coming out of the bathroom, he rips the door off the hinges and she is sitting on the edge of the bathtub. It may be my favorite because I am also an eldest and did the same to my siblings. I never did try Chinese Water torture but I’m still bigger than them so I may have to do it at the next family gathering.

  22. And I thought I came from the only family where people would, without heat, suggest that under certain circumstances they would break off your arm and beat you with the bloody stub. That Michigan/Indiana border’s pretty permeable…

  23. Kat, I’m frankly stupefied by the reaction to IODINE; I thought I’d written my Career Ender. But everyone who reads it understand what’s happening under the surface, which restores my faith in humanity. Well, it restores my faith in people who read books. Thank you for saying so.

  24. Here is an actual sentence spoken by my sister, in her usual loving dulcet tones:
    “I SAID, get your skinny ass through the hole in that fence and catch that cow! I don’t care if you tear your silk blouse, you big weenus, we’ve got a problem to solve. Take off your belt, let me see if it would work as a harness. Oh, oh, bless its little delicate heart, this is about the size of a damn bracelet. Use it anyway, and also shut up, I know it’s barbed wire! I’m not blind! I’ll get you a tetanus shot, Precious Agnes, if you get a little scratch. Dear god, you wear me out, I am a flat frazzle, do I have to do EVERYTHING? You think I’m going to push my fats through that hole so you can stand there and write poems? THINK AGAIN, ARSEHOLE.”

  25. Well there goes the image I had of this sweet sweet Quaker girl with flowers in her hair and little birds flying around her while she spoke to bambi.

  26. i think Delonda should run in 2016 for President, with Melinda on her ticket as VP. then , in the manner of LBJ, Melinda would end up President in 2020-2028, with Haven on her ticket. Then Haven for Preident in 2028, with Augusten Burrough on her ticket. Then Augusten for President in 2036. And so on.

  27. What you’ve described there, Miss Fennimore Cooper, is a political dynasty inside a mental institution. Hey Mom, are you there? Remember how we were talking about KING OF HEARTS just a few days ago, and how Alan Bates (swoon) would rather live with the crazies than the townspeople? That’s where we should stage our coup.

  28. Michael T, I was that dear angelic little nymph who could talk to the animals! I was punished for it by Melinda with brute force and terror. Also? Her favorite game — my brother’s too — was to put the little toddler Haven in our recliner and spin it so fast I was bound by centrifugal force. Then they’d stop it and make me stand up, in order to watch my eyes simultaneously wiggle and spin in circles, and to see me walk sideways a few feet before falling down. Years of harrowing neurological difficulties followed, but it’s my nature to love and forgive.


  29. In conclusion, thank God her birthday only comes round once every two years.

  30. Your sister has nice nails.

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