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:
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: